Ambassador John Bolton on UN Arms Control Treaty and Benghazi - A TexasGOPVote Exclusive Interview

Ambassador John Bolton and TexasGOPVote's Bob Price - Exclusive InterviewFormer U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has been celebrated by conservatives and maligned by liberals and the mainstream media (isn't that the same thing?) for decades. Having served under three Republican presidents (Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43), Bolton has built a reputation for being solid on the facts and outspoken with his opinions. TexasGOPVote was privileged this week to speak with Ambassador Bolton in an exclusive interview about President Obama's efforts to do an end run around our Constitution's Second Amendment with the U.N. Arms Control Treaty and one of the worst scandals in American history, the cover-up of the assassination of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other brave Americans. The audio of the interview follows below and a full transcript of the interview is available at the bottom of this page.

U.N. Arms Control Treaty:

Ambassador Bolton opened the discussion on the U.N. treaty stating, "The treaty’s sponsors say that it has to do with international trade of small arms and light weapons, but in fact it contains language that if the U.S. were to ratify the treaty, its advocates could say it later required the United States to enact sweeping gun control legislation."

"I think, that after the failure of very restrictive gun control legislation in Congress and in many state legislatures over the past several years," Bolton continued. "This is sort of the back-door way that gun control advocates have found to impose gun control on the United States, all the while saying, 'Oh no no, this just applies to international transfers,' but knowing that there’s language in the treaty that once it becomes ratified, they would then turn around and say, 'To comply with the treaty, you have to adopt further gun control laws,' so that’s what’s at issue."


Despite the approval of the treaty by the U.N. and the Obama Administration, President Barrack Obama did not join with the sixty-seven other nations who signed the agreement on June 3rd and has still not signed the treaty. Bolton explained the President is under no time pressure to sign the treaty and that even when he does eventually sign the treaty, he can withhold it from the Senate for an indefinite amount of time. The treaty could be brought to the Senate after the mid-term elections if the balance of power were to shift further to the left, or even by a future president to a future senate.

That does not stop; however, a president like Obama from taking actions based upon the existence of the treaty. "This is a real danger," Bolton warned. "And it stems from two sources, really. First off, there’s an obscure international treaty, which, by the way, the United States isn’t a party to, but it hasn’t slowed down Administrations before. The treaty basically says, if you’ve signed another treaty, but haven’t yet ratified it, you cannot act to defeat the object and purposes of the treaty."

Bolton went on to say, "We saw the Clinton Administration try to use that obscure treaty to justify, for example, compliance with a prohibition on underground nuclear tests, and I think the Obama Administration, having seen that lesson, will try and do the same. That’s why the Administration’s signature actually could make a difference here. And, under that theory, the President could say, 'Well, in order not to defeat the object or purpose of the treaty, while we’re waiting for the Senate to ratify it, I’m going to issue executive order A and executive order B,' that in effect tries to implement the treaty. And that’s where the way of avoiding Congress entirely really could arise." Of course we know that President Obama would never try to skirt around the Congress or the Constitution. [Heavy sarcasm alert]

Many, including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot, are concerned that not only is this an attack on the 2nd Amendment, but it could also lead to attacks on our nation's sovereignty by subordinating other amendments to our Constitution or even the entire Bill of Rights to the United Nations through treaties. This would represent the kind of fundamental change to the United States that then Senator Obama promised to deliver in 2008.

"I think we’re vulnerable across the board," he said. "Issues like gun control, family law, the death penalty, environmental issues, the Left in the United States, when it is not satisfied with the result of our democratic process, when it doesn’t get what it wants on these and a whole range of other domestic issues, has increasingly been trying to internationalize the issue, to have these questions debated and decided in bodies of the United Nations in international treaty negotiations, because they know that they have a lot more congenial environment negotiating with the rest of the world than negotiating with their fellow citizens. This has the prospect of fundamentally undermining our sovereignty."

Bolton responded to Gen. Abbott's threat to sue the federal government and challenge the constitutionality of this treaty were it to be signed by the President and approved by the Senate. "A treaty has to be consistent with the Constitution," Bolton explained. "You know, there’s an idea out there, that even some conservatives and Republicans have espoused, that treaties are superior to the Constitution. That cannot be the case. For us, the highest authority, at least on this earth, is the Constitution, and treaties, like laws of the United States, cannot be inconsistent with the Constitution. So, if by chance, the treaty is ratified, it would certainly be subject to Constitutional challenge."

Benghazi Attack and Political Cover-Up

I asked Ambassador Bolton about the White House's cover-up and former Secretary of State (and possible 2016 presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton's role in the Benghazi scandal that left four Americans dead and many questions unanswered. In particular, I asked about her testimony before Congress where she incredulously asked "What difference does it make?" referring to whether the attack was a terrorist attack or a protest that had simply gotten out of hand.

Hillary Clinton 2016 - Remember Benghazi

Bolton replied, "I think it shows she still doesn’t understand how grave this kind of attack is. It’s a tragedy for the four people who were killed, it shows that official Americans remain at risk all around the world, it shows that private citizen Americans, doing business and tourism, visiting their families around the world are vulnerable, and the impression it leaves with friends and adversaries alike is that the United States can’t protect its own people, that you can attack representatives of the United States with impunity."

"There’re a whole range of questions about Benghazi: why the facility was there, why it wasn’t adequately protected, what happened on the day of the attack, and then after the attack, where the Administration came up with this ridiculous argument that it wasn’t really a terrorist attack, but a demonstration over this Muhammad video that had gotten a little bit out of control. Really, right across the board, before, during, and after the attack, we don’t have answers yet from the Administration. So, public opinion polls show the American people really want to know the answer. I think they’re very disturbed by this, and by the assassination of the diplomats, they want answers. Congress really needs to continue this investigation, and indeed, step it up, I think."

We agree Mr. Ambassador. President Obama has shown a callus disregard for the loss of American lives and for the pain of the families. Just like the family of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in an earlier deadly Obama Administration scandal called Fast & Furious, Obama and his gang of henchman have become masters of the cover-up and refuse to provide answers the families deserve and American citizens demand.

Having served under three U.S. Presidents, Bolton expressed a unique and interesting insight into this President's character and actions. "The President’s a very detached man," Bolton said. "It’s almost like he thinks his government consists only of what’s on the four corners of his desk. I frankly have never seen anything like it, in any prior president, Democrat or Republican, and I think that what we have to as citizens is keep up the pressure. We do not accept that the United States won’t protect its people, that they won’t go after people who carry out operations like Fast and Furious and who allow people who are part of the protective services, that protect the American people and represent the American people, we’re not going to allow them to be killed with impunity, and I think that we need to transmit how strongly we feel about this to our representatives in Congress, and we just have to keep at it day after day."

Ambassador Bolton promised to come back to TexasGOPVote and discuss future developments on the U.N. Arms Treaty and Benghazi as news develops.  We are grateful for his time and perspective and look forward to future interviews.

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW:

TexasGOPVote Political News Commentator Bob Price: We’re on the phone today with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

Ambassador Bolton, welcome to TexasGOPVote. 

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton: Well, glad to be with you, thank you for having me. 

Bob Price:  We’re very glad to have you here today to talk about the U.N. arms control treaty that has been approved by the United Nations, and I understand that President Obama has not signed that yet, but can you explain what the impact of that treaty would be on the U.S. Constitution, and particularly on the second amendment? 

John Bolton: Well basically, the treaty’s sponsors say that it has to do with international trade of  small arms and light weapons, but in fact it contains language that if the U.S. were to ratify the treaty, its advocates could say it later required the United States to enact sweeping gun control legislation. And you know, this has been the hidden agenda of the advocates of this treaty for fifteen years now. They were basically stopped during the Bush Administration, but Obama in his first term tried to move the treaty forward and now, safely re-elected, I think it’s clear from what he has said, and Secretary of State Kerry, they intend to sign the treaty and try to have it ratified. So it really is something, I think, that after the failure of very restrictive gun control legislation in Congress and in many state legislatures over the past several years. This is sort of the back-door way that gun control advocates have found to impose gun control on the United States, all the while saying, “Oh no no, this just applies to international transfers,” but knowing that there’s language in the treaty that once it becomes ratified, they would then turn around and say, “To comply with the treaty you have to adopt further gun control laws,” so that’s what’s at issue. 

Bob Price: Okay, on June the third, sixty-seven of the countries actually signed this treaty, but the United States has not yet. Is there any kind of deadline by which the Obama Administration has to sign the treaty? 

John Bolton: No, they can sign it at any point, before it comes into force, or after it comes into force, that’s really up to them. There’s been a lot of speculation as to what’s taking the Administration so long. Hard to answer that question, of course, they don’t consult with me, but it’s possible they just wanted to see what the initial reaction was in the United States. They don’t want to make a big deal out of it, they want to sign the treaty in the dark of night, and bring it before the Senate, when they hope people will not pay close attention. That’s my guess, anyway. 

Bob Price: Okay, and I understand that 57 senators have said that they will not vote to ratify the treaty, or to confirm the ratification of the treaty. If the treaty is not presented to the Senate for confirmation, does it have any impact on our law at that point, or can the President bypass this with some kind of executive order, or…? 

John Bolton: Well, this is a real danger, and it stems from two sources, really. First off, there’s an obscure international treaty, which, by the way, the United States isn’t a party to, but it hasn’t slowed down Administrations before. The treaty basically says, if you’ve signed another treaty, but haven’t yet ratified it, you cannot act to defeat the object and purposes of the treaty. And, you can argue about what sense that makes with parliamentary governments signing treaties. It makes no sense for a system like the United States, where the President can sign a treaty, but it doesn’t mean anything to us until the Senate ratifies it. Nonetheless, we saw the Clinton Administration try to use that obscure treaty to justify, for example, compliance with a prohibition on underground nuclear tests, and I think the Obama Administration, having seen that lesson, will try and do the same. That’s why the Administration’s signature actually could make a difference here. And, under that theory, the President could say, “Well, in order not to defeat the object or purpose of the treaty, while we’re waiting for the Senate to ratify it, I’m going to issue executive order A and executive order B,” that in effect tries to implement the treaty. And that’s where the way of avoiding Congress entirely really could arise. The President has not been reluctant to use executive orders. Obviously his regulatory agencies are running out of control, so I do think that this is a real risk. Obviously, I think opponents of this approach believe that if the President tries to do it, it should create a real firestorm of opposition, cause this would be, in effect, ignoring the Constitutional process for legislation. 

Bob Price: Which we’ve seen in the past, the President is not shy about doing with his recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess and things like that. Now, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot has said that he will file a lawsuit against the federal government if this treaty is signed and ratified. Can the Supreme Court overturn a treaty like this? 

John Bolton: Sure, a treaty has to be consistent with the Constitution. You know, there’s an idea out there, that even some conservatives and Republicans have espoused, that treaties are superior to the Constitution. That cannot be the case. For us, the highest authority, at least on this earth, is the Constitution, and treaties, like laws of the United States, cannot be inconsistent with the Constitution. So, if by chance, the treaty is ratified, it would certainly be subject to Constitutional challenge. 

Bob Price: Now, I understand also that the President can hold the treaty back from submitting it to the Senate to basically any point in time, so if he got a larger majority after the 2014 midterm elections, or even a future President could take this treaty and submit it for ratification. Is that correct? 

John Bolton: Yes, that’s correct. The President, of course, can withdraw his signature from a treaty, I mean one of my proudest moments during the Bush Administration was when we un-signed the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, which is a real, potentially a real threat to the United States, but there are a lot of other treaties out there that have been signed long, long ago, like the Law of the Sea Treaty signed back during the Carter Administration, which we’ve successfully blocked over the years, but which can be resubmitted at any time, and in John Kerry you’ve got somebody who wants that treaty approved, he want the Arms Trade Treaty approved, so we’re shaping up for battles ahead, but the point you make is very important. Obviously, the balance of power in the Senate can change at any point, and that’s why the 2014 election, among other reasons, is so important, because we don’t want to let this happen. 

Bob Price: Now, I think that this is not only a threat to the Second Amendment, but to our entire Bill of Rights. If the President allows the sovereignty of the United States to be subordinated to the United Nations, attacking the Second Amendment, couldn’t he do the same thing with the First Amendment, the Fourth, Fifth Amendment, or any other Amendment? 

John Bolton: Well, I think we’re vulnerable across the board. This is something that I’ve written about and spoken about for a long a long time, I mean like fifteen years now, that for issues we normally consider domestic, I’m not talking about foreign policy and defense and national security issues here, but issues like gun control, family law, the death penalty, environmental issues, the Left in the United States, when it is not satisfied with the result of our democratic process, when it doesn’t get what it wants on these and a whole range of other domestic issues, has increasingly been trying to internationalize the issue, to have these questions debated and decided in bodies of the United Nations in international treaty negotiations, because they know that they have a lot more congenial environment negotiating with the rest of the world than negotiating with their fellow citizens. This has the prospect of fundamentally undermining our sovereignty. You know, sovereignty is not an abstraction to the United States. We know exactly what it means. The Constitution says in the first three words, “We the people.” We the people are sovereign in the United States, not the government. So when you hear people say, “Well, you know, we need to share sovereignty internationally,” that means sharing the power that we the people have. I think it’s a huge mistake, I think it’s very dangerous. Certainly we see it at risk here and thing like the Arms Trade Treaty, but the risk is much broader than just gun control, really. It’s potentially all the way across the board of the whole range of domestic issues. 

Bob Price: Well Ambassador, I know you have a really tight schedule, I’d like to change horses real quickly, if we can, and talk about the incident that happened in Benghazi where the United States Ambassador was killed. Where are we on that investigation, and is this something that is, that Hillary Clinton, is more responsible for than perhaps even Barack Obama. 

John Bolton: Well, I’m very worried that we’ve just completely lost any possibility of really doing anything about Benghazi. No, it’s nine months now, and none of the people who committed these murders have been apprehended. I think that’s the wrong way to go about it. In any event, this is not a criminal justice matter, this is an attack on the United States, it’s an act of war by the terrorists, and yet we haven’t retaliated against anybody. And, I think that’s a terrible signal. You know, an ambassador is the President’s personal representative in the country where he’s serving. And I think the symbol that we’re sending is that you can kill the person representative of the President of the United States, and get away with it, and three other brave Americans as well. So this is a signal of weakness that we’re sending, I think the terrorists and our other adversaries around the world can see it. They’re calculating their policies accordingly. There’re a whole range of questions about Benghazi: why the facility was there, why it wasn’t adequately protected, what happened on the day of the attack, and then after the attack, where the Administration came up with this ridiculous argument that it wasn’t really a terrorist attack, but a demonstration over this Muhammad video that had gotten a little bit out of control. Really, right across the board, before, during, and after the attack, we don’t have answers yet from the Administration. So, public opinion polls show the American people really want to know the answer. I think they’re very disturbed by this, and by the assassination of the diplomats, they want answers. Congress really needs to continue this investigation, and indeed, step it up, I think. 

Bob Price: Now, Secretary Clinton testified before Congress and said, “What difference does it make?” whether it was a terrorist attack or a protest gone awry. Don’t you think that that’s really making light of a very, very, very serious situation? 

John Bolton: I think it shows she still doesn’t understand how grave this kind of attack is. It’s a tragedy for the four people who were killed, it shows that official Americans remain at risk all around the world, it shows that private citizen Americans, doing business and tourism, visiting their families around the world are vulnerable, and the impression it leaves with friends and adversaries alike is that the United States can’t protect its own people, that you can attack representatives of the United States with impunity. And the weakness that that indicates, the decline of American power and influence around the world, I think could have consequences we can’t even begin to imagine. And all of this because of the attitude of the President that, you know, “The War on Terror is over,” he says, Al Qaeda’s on the road to defeat, he doesn’t even believe in victory over the terrorists, he thinks it’s kind of a condition that you have to get used to, declining American military capabilities, on and on and on, that I think represent policies that are gravely endangering our national security, and we need to have more discussion in our national political debate about the weakness that the President is creating. 

Bob Price: One of the things that I’ve been amazed in this, is the lack of sensitivity to the families of the Americans who were lost in this incident and in Fast and Furious with border patrol agent Brian Terry who was killed, and his family is not getting any answers. What can we do with an Administration that just ignores the responsibility of taking care of its representatives across the country and across the world? 

John Bolton: Well, the President’s a very detached man, it’s almost like the thinks his government consists only of what’s on the four corners of his desk. I frankly have never seen anything like it, in any prior president, Democrat or Republican, and I think that what we have to as citizens is keep up the pressure. We do not accept that the United States won’t protect its people, that they won’t go after people who carry out operations like Fast and Furious and who allow people who are part of the protective services, that protect the American people and represent the American people, we’re not going to allow them to be killed with impunity, and I think that we need to transmit how strongly we feel about this to our representatives in Congress and we just have to keep at it day after day. 

Bob Price: Well Ambassador, thank you very much for your time on this. I hope we can get back to you again in the future when this treaty, if it moves forward, when it moves forward, I’d like to get your feedback on that at that point in time. 

John Bolton: Well, I’d be pleased to do that, I plan to keep my eye on it, and I look forward to talking to you in the future. 

Bob Price: Okay, thank you very much. 

John Bolton: Thank you. 

 

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