Kurt Haskell, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Michigan's Seventh District, called out corruption in both major parties and challenged the status quo on several key issues in an exclusive interview with Digital Journal.
Digital Journal: Kurt, as you know, many people recognize your name because you were a survivor of the Christmas 2009 underwear bombing, and you told investigators that you saw a well-dressed man get Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab through security checkpoints and onto the plane without a passport. Did that ordeal affect your decision to run for Congress?
Kurt Haskell: Not really. I had wanted to run for a while, and the redistricting finally gave me a realistic shot of winning as a Democrat. The Christmas Day bombing incident just made me even more aware of how much corruption there is in our government and added to my disillisionment with Congress.
DJ: When Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy admitted in a Congressional hearing that the U.S. government was tracking Mutallab and intentionally allowed him to travel to the U.S., how did you feel?
KH: It was a very good day for me... I felt partially vindicated. I can at least say that there were Congressional hearings that show I was telling the truth. What more proof do you need than that?DJ: Let's talk about some of the issues that Americans are concerned about right now, such as the economy. The banker bailouts have been pointed to by both Democrats and Republicans as a necessary tool to prevent an economic collapse. How do you feel about that program?
KH: The bailout was one of the biggest mistakes the U.S. government has made. The big banks should have been allowed to fail, and their business would have gone to the small banks. Quantitative easing has made it even worse, and will lead to the permanent destruction of the dollar. It also creates inflation, which will destroy the middle class and the poor. To have a Democratic president supporting this is hypocrisy.DJ: What about Ron Paul's bill to audit the Federal Reserve? Would you have voted for it if you were in Congress?
KH: I would have voted for it, but it doesn't go far enough. We need a bill to end the Fed, since it serves no purpose other than to enrich the bankers.DJ: What you you think of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, that authorizes the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens?
KH: I hate the NDAA. The indefinite detention section clearly violates the Constitution, and I will do everything in my power to stop it. DJ: What is your take on the war on drugs? There are initiatives on several state ballots this year to legalize the possession of marijuana.
KH: The war on drugs is a complete failure. It drives up the prison budget. It targets minorities unfairly, and drug use hasn't decreased. It's a waste of precious money. However, if you legalized marijuana, the government could tax it and generate revenue. Remember, at one time, alcohol was illegal too, and the states made the right decision to legalize it.DJ: One of the most discussed state propostitions during this election cycle is Prop 37, the California initiative to label genetically engineered foods. Where do you stand on that issue?
KH: I think that would be a good thing. If you're buying food from the store, you should be able to know what's in it. Besides, we don't know the long-term effects of genetically modified food.DJ: Let's talk about foreign policy for a minute. Do you think the President has the power to wage war without Congressional approval, like he did in Libya?
KH: Absolutely not. He does not have that authority.DJ: And what about the ongoing war in Afghanistan... how soon would you like to see the troops brought home?
KH: We should bring them home right now. We have no business being there.DJ: What are your views on the TSA and airport security?
KH: I can't stand the TSA. There has not been one incident in which they have actually found a terrorist, and yet when we fly we have to choose between showing our naked body in the body scanners or being groped. All you really need are bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors to stop terrorism at the airports.DJ: Getting back to the War on Terror for a moment, the New York Times recently published an article that chronicles the many terror plots in the U.S. over the last few years in which the suspects were assisted by the FBI. Have you had a chance to read that?
KH: Yes... it's ridiculous to think that these guys could pull off these plots without undercover intelligence. I can't think of one attack in the U.S. recently where the FBI or the CIA wasn't involved.DJ: Let's discuss your opponent, incumbent Tim Walberg, for a minute. What do you think his biggest weaknesses are?
KH: My opponent is not very popular at all. He supported the Paul Ryan budget and voted to end Medicare and cut education spending. He is also very much against the Constitution, since he voted for the Patriot Act and the NDAA. DJ: Why do you think Walberg has refused to debate you?
KH: It's a no-win situation for him. He has an extremely bad record and I would point it out. Plus, I'm a trial attorney, so I do this for a living. I would destroy him in a debate.DJ: What do you think your chances are of beating him in November?
KH: I have a really good chance. My district votes 51 percent Republican, but people in Monroe County don't normally vote along party lines, and that's the largest county in the district. If I can win Monroe County, I have a great shot of winning the election.DJ: How have the voters responded to you on the campaign trail?
KH: I get a great reception because people want someone who is not on the inside and not a career politician.DJ: That's true, but many voters are also concerned that candidates who are outsiders will end up "selling out" once they get into office. Why should people believe that you are any different?
KH: If anyone followed me during the underwear bomber case, they would see that I stand for truth and justice. I will never toe the party line.
More information on Kurt Haskell's campaign can be found at kurthaskellforcongress.com. Or connect on Facebook here.