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Tulsi Gabbard (1981–) is an American politician, and since 2013, one of two Congressional Representatives from Hawaii. She is of European and Samoan ancestry, and is the first Hindu member of the Congress.
She was the youngest woman to be elected to a U.S. state legislature, and served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004. Directly following this she served in an Iraq combat zone from 2004 to 2005, and was later deployed to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009.
She was the vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2013 until 2016, when she resigned to endorse Bernie Sanders for President. She is a relatively moderate Democrat in a heavily left-leaning district, and her support for Sanders was a convenient way to counter a primary challenger from the left. As a result, her reputation as a progressive has been called into question.
On the issues
Gabbard opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, calls for a restoration of the Glass-Steagall banking regulations, wants to stop mass surveillance of Americans by repealing the PATRIOT Act, supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and favors single-payer healthcare like many Democrats after the passage of Obamacare. She supports marijuana legalization.
In 2014, Gabbard said she was "conflicted" on the CIA's use of torture, saying that the "debate carries on" as to whether torture leads to accurate intelligence, and although she would not like to see any person being treated inhumanely she would do everything in her power to keep Americans safe in a ticking time bomb scenario. This is tantamount to feeling conflicted about committing crimes against humanity because that is what torture is.
Tulsi's base of support comes from Indian expatriates, many of whom are BJP sympathizers or supporters. She's networked with plenty of them. She thinks that it is important to identify the enemy by using the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism."
“”To try to act as if there is a difference between 'civil unions' and same-sex marriage is dishonest, cowardly and extremely disrespectful to the people of Hawaii who have already made overwhelmingly clear our position on this issue… As Democrats we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.
|—Tulsi Gabbard in 2004.|
Her record on LGBT issues is mixed. The Gabbards started in politics as homophobic activists. In 2016, the Hawaii Democratic Party's LGBT Caucus issued strong support for Gabbard's primary opponent, Shay Chan Hodges. A decade earlier, Gabbard was a pro-life opponent of same-sex marriage, just like her Republican father, Mike Gabbard. In her early 20s, Gabbard protested against a bill that would have legalized civil unions for same-sex couples and delivered a speech in the Hawaii State House against a resolution that was meant to target anti-gay bullying in public schools. Gabbard objected to teaching students that homosexuality is "normal and natural" and worried the resolution would be "inviting homosexual-advocacy organizations into our schools to promote their agenda to our vulnerable youth."
When Honolulu magazine emailed Gabbard's father to clarify his former relationship with Chris Butler's Hare Krishna group, Tulsi responded "it’s clear to me that you’re acting as a conduit for The Honolulu Weekly and other homosexual extremist supporters of Ed Case." Despite being followers of Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (a.k.a. Chris Butler), whose cult was founded after breaking away from the Hare Krishnas, Mike Gabbard publicly claims to be Catholic while Tulsi identifies as Hindu. He and Tulsi have been running a nonprofit called Stand Up for America, with the mission of promoting patriotism and unity of the US.
Gabbard has since apologised and says her "views have changed significantly since then." Nowadays, she has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign.[note 1] While she rebuffed a 2013 offer for a meeting with the Hawaiian LGBT Caucus, she is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Gabbard herself once cited her time in the military, seeing the dangers of theocratic rule, that made her change her mind on her public position on marriage equality.
“”In short, when it comes to the war against terrorists, I'm a hawk. When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I'm a dove.
|—Gabbard in 2016.|
Gabbard's perspective on war is that it is terrible but sometimes necessary:
Kim Iversen: You definitely feel strongly about sending our troops off to battle for regime change wars.
Iversen: That it’s clearly an unnecessary cost, often of which is their life. Are you against all wars?
Gabbard: Look, wars are terrible. Unfortunately they are sometimes necessary to keep our people safe. This is the reality of the world that we live in and we have to look at this world as it exists rather than try to exist in a world that doesn't. So the reality is that there are those that seek to do us harm. Unfortunately war is sometimes necessary.
Gabbard voted for the Iran nuclear deal, albeit while still being critical of Iran. She opposes allowing the US to go to war with Iran without explicit congressional authorization. She opposes the US military support for Saudi Arabia's intervention in Yemen. She also said the US has to stand up for Israel, whom she considers to be America's strongest ally. She opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel's occupation of Palestine and cosponsored a bill establishing support for an independent 'demilitarized' Palestinian state without the ability to raise a military force for its defense.
In a 2015 press release, Gabbard was quoted saying that Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had shown "great courage and leadership" in taking on "extreme Islamist ideology". Gabbard has also described India's Narendra Modi as "a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected officials everywhere."
In 2015, Gabbard criticised the United States for not bombing al-Qaeda in Syria and said it was "mind-boggling" to protest Russia's military intervention. Gabbard was also in favour of directly supporting and arming Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq. Gabbard voted to add extra investigation on Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming into into the US, even though the screening process already took between 1.5 and 3 years. This would essentially block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from resettling in the United States.
In March 2016, Gabbard was one of only three members of Congress, and the only Democrat, to vote against a resolution condemning violence against civilians by Assad's forces. In January 2017, she went to Damascus and got wined and dined by the regime. Democratic leaders in Congress were not notified of the trip in advance. While she has called Assad a "brutal dictator", she does not believe he is an enemy of the United States. She has stated that Syria "would be in a far worse situation if al-Qaida took charge" and is therefore against a regime-change war.
If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court.
She made similar comments on CNN, adding that she would call Assad a war criminal if he were found responsible after an independent investigation:
If President Assad is found to be responsible after an independent investigation for these horrific chemical weapons attacks, I'll be the first one to denounce him, to call him a war criminal, and to call for his prosecution in the International Criminal Court.
After an investigation, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism[note 2] confirmed Assad's forces were responsible for the Khan Shaykhun attack. However, rather than calling for Assad's "prosecution and execution", according to Gabbard's official website, her position is that "there is evidence to suggest that the attacks [in Khan Shaykhun and Douma] may have been staged by opposition forces". Both attacks occurred after her visit with Assad.
Her website also states that "there is evidence that both the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad as well as the armed opposition groups aligned against him have used chemical weapons (CW) during the Syrian war", apparently in reference to previous chemical attacks. As a guest on The View, Gabbard said "there is no disputing the fact that [Assad] has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people." Despite this, she has refused to say Assad is a war criminal:
Questioner: Do you remain skeptical, as you were in 2017, that Bashar al-Assad used chemical warfare against Syrian civilians?
Gabbard: I want to correct that because there's been some misunderstanding. There have been reports showing that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, both by the Syrian government as well as different terrorist groups on the ground in Syria.
Dana Bash: This week, Syrian refugees in Jordan, they requested that the first International Criminal Court case against the Syrian government commence. You met Bashar al-Assad in 2017, do you believe that Assad is a war criminal?
Gabbard: I think that the evidence needs to be gathered and as I have said before, if there is evidence that he has committed war crimes he should be prosecuted as such.
Bash: But you’re not sure now?
Gabbard: Everything that I have said requires that we take action based on evidence. If the evidence is there, there should be accountability.
Bret Baier: In 2017, you visited Syria. You met with Bashar al-Assad. Recently you were asked if he was a war criminal and you couldn’t really say. Can you say it tonight?
Gabbard: Look, like I said earlier, we have to be willing to meet with people who may be adversaries, or potential adversaries or dictators or others, in the pursuit of peace and security. What’s more important than the question that you're asking right now is to focus on the cost of this regime change war on our country.
Baier: There are people inside the US military, many of them, and inside the US intelligence agencies that believe that Assad was behind the gassing of his own people. You just don’t buy that?
Gabbard: No, what I have said and I have said this numerous times is that the Assad government, the Syrian government, there have been other actors, terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and others, other jihadist groups in Syria, have unfortunately used these chemical weapons in this war that’s currently being waged.
“”Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated. Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did. #neverforget911
|—Gabbard on Twitter|
Apparently due to Gabbard's support for Russian military involvement in Syria, she has gained financial campaign support from at least two or three Americans who are Russia sycophants: "Stephen F. Cohen, a Russian studies professor at New York University and prominent Kremlin sympathizer; Sharon Tennison, a vocal Putin supporter"; and "Goofy Grapes", an employee of RT. The actual identity of "Goofy Grapes", who gave $1000, is unknown and would therefore seem to be a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act. In response to the Daily Beast's revelation of these campaign donations, she responded in a most Trumpian manner, by falsely proclaiming "fake news".
On October 18, 2019, Hillary Clinton said that Russia was “grooming” a candidate to run as a third-party candidate who would help President Trump win reelection through the spoiler effect. Later that day, Gabbard went Trumpian again, responding in a tweet by attacking Clinton as the "queen of warmongers."
In February 2019 NBC News published a report charging that "the Russian propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election is now promoting" Gabbard based on an analysis of the main English-language news sites employed by Russia in the Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. In October 2019 the New York Times reported that "an independent analysis of the Russian news media found that RT, the Kremlin-backed news agency, mentioned Ms. Gabbard frequently for a candidate polling in single digits, according to data collected by the Alliance for Securing Democracy."
In 2017 Christopher Cooper, a media consultant with the Potomac Square Group, worked as a consultant to Gabbard. Cooper, a figure in the investigation of the Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, has been involved in Russian-sponsored lobbying; during Congressional testimony his lobbying work was referred to as "one the best examples of Putin’s propaganda."
Science of Identity Foundation
Gabbard has a number of ties to the Science of Identity Foundation, a religious sect in Hawaii that has been described as a cult. In 2015 Gabbard referred to Chris Butler, the founder of the sect, as her "guru dev" or spiritual master. Butler had been a member of the Hari Krisha movement (ISKCON) since 1970 but later split with organization to found SIF. SIF has sufficient similarities to ISKCON (Vaishnava branch of Hinduism, teaching of Bhakti yoga, similar taboos), that it should probably be regarded as schism of ISKCON. Gabbard's husband, Abraham Williams, has strong family connections to Butler. His mother, Anya Anthony, works with Wai Lana Productions LLC, a company associated with Butler’s wife; Anthony runs Gabbard's political office in Honolulu. Gabbard's father, Mike Gabbard, said in 2004: "Although I'm not a member of the Science of Identity Foundation, I'm eternally thankful to Chris Butler;" both he and Gabbard's mother served on the board of the Science of Identity Foundation. Gabbard has not answered questions about her ties to the sect, claiming that it is an attack on her Hindu faith.
- LGBT civil rights advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign gave Gabbard a 100% score for the 115th United States Congress (January 2017 to January 2019). Her 114th score was 88% and her 113th score was 92%.
- The Joint Investigative Mechanism was a partnership between the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations (UN).
- Gabbard has appeared at least 11 times on Tucker Carlon's show since 2017, including at least 6 appearances in 2019:
- Tulsi Gabbard. GovTrack.us
- ProgressivePunch: House Members by score / All issues
- Pignataro, Anthony, "Maui Democratic Party activist Shay Chan Hodges says she’s running against U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard", Maui Time 7.7.16.
- Higgins, Eoin, "Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Who You Think She Is", Paste (11/22/16 at 9:12am).
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Facebook: Raise the Wage Act | Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. January 8, 2018. Press Release.
- Universal Healthcare | Tulsi Gabbard - Fighting for the people. votetulsi.com
- Tulsi Gabbard on Marijuana Legalization
- Peoples War: "Tulsi Gabbard Endorses Torture During 12/17/14 NDTV Appearance @ 16:45" YouTube. January 14, 2019.
Host: Let me ask you in the end, as a soldier how do you respond to the much discussed report on the CIA's use of torture and what some Americans have called a blot on American values. Do you share that opinion or as a soldier do you have a very different perspective on the use of torture?
Gabbard: Very bluntly, I'm conflicted. I'm conflicted on this report. There are-- I think the jury is still out on the report itself. There have been comments that there are things missing or it was incomplete and there are differing opinions on the report itself. But as I think about it myself, clearly we would not like to see any human, any person around the world being treated inhumanely. On the other side, I can also understand that any of us, if we're in a situation where our family, or our community, our state, or our country is in a place where, let's say in an hour, a nuclear bomb or an attack will go off unless this information is found. I believe that if I were the president of the United States that I would do everything in my power to keep the American people safe. So this is an area that I have conflicting feelings on.
Host: Although of course there are questions about whether torture actually leads to the correct intel, right? That debate carries on.
Gabbard: That debate carries on. There are those who are in the position of conducting these interrogations. Some who have said...
Host: ...it does work...
Gabbard: ...it does and others who have said it doesn't.
- Gun Control Vote Tulsi.
- Tulsi Gabbard's Voting Records on Issue: Guns Vote Smart.
- Balachandran, Manu, "Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu in the US Congress, on Modi, Hinduism, and linking Islam to terror", Quartz India 3.2.16.
- Schwartz, Ian, "Dem Rep. Gabbard: Use Term Radical Islamic Terrorism, 'Important That You Identify Your Enemy'", RCP 7.18.16.
- Adrienne LaFrance, Tulsi Gabbard's Leftward Journey", Civil Beat. January 16, 2012.
- Antone, Rod. Crowds jam civil union debate Starbulletin.com. February 20, 2004.
- Pignataro, Anthony, "UPDATED: Here’s why the Hawaii LGBT Caucus doesn’t support Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s reelection campaign", Maui Time 7.25.16.
- Bolante, Ronna, "Who is Mike Gabbard?", Honolulu Magazine (8/1/04).
- Sanneh, Kelefa. "What does Tulsi Gabbard believe?" The New Yorker. November 6, 2017.
- Q&A with Tulsi Gabbard. Yoga, Peace, and the Aloha Spirit, Yoga Hawaii Magazine 03.08.18.
- Tulsi Gabbard Still Dogged By Krishna Cult Rumors by Rui Kaneya (03/16/2015 02:26 pm ET) The Huffington Post.
- Essoyan, Susan, "Rivals protest endorsement of Tamayo by her nonprofit", Star Advertiser 1.4.17.
- Choi, Matthew. "Tulsi Gabbard apologizes for past anti-LGBT rhetoric" Politico. January 17, 2019.
- "The rise of Gabbard: No telling how far independent path will take her" Hawaii Tribune-Herald. August 28, 2016.
- Kim Iversen: "Understanding Tulsi Gabbard: Interview March 2019". YouTube. April 6, 2019.
- Press Release: "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes in Support of Iran Deal Over Alternatives", 9.11.14.
- VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges Congress to Oppose Authorization for War Against Iran Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard - Press Release. May 22, 2018.
- Press Release: "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Reacts To Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Address To Congress", 3.4.15.
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Reinforces Commitment to Peace Through Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard - Press Release. January 6, 2017.
- PHOTOS: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Meets with Egypt President el-Sisi and Other Leaders in Cairo Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard - Press Release. November 23, 2015.
- "Bad enough US has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria. But it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists." Tulsi Gabbard on Twitter. September 30, 2015.
- Fox News: "Lawmaker says Assad should stay in power for now". YouTube. Oct 2, 2015.
I've introduced resolutions, introduced amendments, to the defence bill in Congress to say "hey, we need to directly support and arm these Kurdish fighters both in Iraq as well as in Syria."
- Ashe, Ivy, "Gabbard supports GOP bill on Syrian refugees", Hawaii Tribune-Herald (11/21/15 at 1:30am).
- See the Wikipedia article on American SAFE Act of 2015.
- Siddiqui, Sabrina, "Tulsi Gabbard reveals she met Assad in Syria, without informing top Democrats", Guardian (1/26/17 at 12:58 PM EST).
- "Tulsi Gabbard: The Bernie-Endorsing Congresswoman Who Trump Fans Can Love" The Daily Beast. July 25, 2016.
- Tulsi Gabbard's Syria meeting with Assad sparks outcry. BBC News. January 27, 2017.
- Heather Caygle and Josh Bresnahan, "Gabbard won't disclose who's paying for secret trip to Syria", Politico (Updated 01/18/17 05:24 PM EST).
- Cribb, Esmi, "Tulsi Gabbard Confirms She Met With Assad During Secret Trip To Syria" TPM (1/25/17 at 4:34 PM EDT).
- Rowell, Alex, "Tulsi Gabbard’s Fascist Escorts to Syria", Daily Beast (1/26/17 at 4:25 PM ET).
- Gabbard, Tulsi. "End the War in Syria." votetulsi.com
- Dem Rep Gabbard Repeatedly Defends Assad, Refuses To Call Him An “Adversary” Or “Enemy” YouTube. Feb 6, 2019.
- "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bill To Halt U.S. Arms Supplies To Syrian Allies", NPR (12/10/16 at 8:27 AM ET).
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Trump’s Military Strikes in Syria Are Reckless and Short-Sighted Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard - Press Release. April 6, 2017.
- CNN: "Rep. Gabbard on Syria: Evidence, facts matter" YouTube. April 7, 2017.
- Timeline of investigations into Syria's chemical weapons. Reuters. April 9, 2018.
- Tulsi's Record on the Issues: Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria. tulsi2020.com
- "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on why she’s running for president | The View". YouTube. Feb 20, 2019.
Gabbard: There is no disputing the fact that Bashar al-Assad in Syria is a brutal dictator. There is no disputing the fact that he has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people.
- US Presidential Debates: "Tulsi Gabbard Democratic Primary Town Hall - March 10 2019 on CNN" YouTube. Apr 1, 2019.
- US Presidential Debates: "Tulsi Gabbard Democratic Primary Town Hall - March 10 2019 on CNN" YouTube. Apr 1, 2019.
- Fox News: "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard goes one-on-one with Bret Baier". YouTube. April 17, 2019.
- Fox News: "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard goes one-on-one with Bret Baier". YouTube. April 17, 2019.
- "Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated. Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did. #neverforget911". Tulsi Gabbard on Twitter. October 1, 2015.
- Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists: The Hawaii congresswoman is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood. by Lachlan Markay & Sam Stein (05.17.19 4:44 AM ET) Daily Beast.
- Contribution limits Federal Election Commission.
- Gabbard calls unflattering report 'fake news' by David Beavers (05/19/2019 11:29 AM EDT) Politico.
- Morgan, Scott. "Hillary Clinton suggests Russia is grooming Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run" (in en). https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/hillary-clinton-says-russia-grooming-3rd-party-candidate-u-s-n1068786.
- Pearce, Tim (2019-10-18). "Hillary Clinton says Tulsi Gabbard is a 'Russian asset' groomed to ensure Trump reelection" (in en). https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/hillary-clinton-says-tulsi-gabbard-is-a-russian-asset-groomed-to-ensure-trump-re-election.
- Kelefa Sanneh, What Does Tulsi Gabbard Believe? The New Yorker, 30 October 2017.
- Sophie Cocke, Tulsi Gabbard’s run for president brings questions about past. staradvertiser.com, 27 January 2019.
- Rui Kaneya, Krishna Cult Rumors Still Dog Tulsi Gabbard. civilbeat.org, 16 March 2015.
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