About Pat Roberts, U.S. Senator
Charles Patrick "Pat" Roberts (born April 20, 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Kansas. A member of the Republican Party, he has served since 1997. He is the ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture and previously served as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, Roberts is a graduate of Kansas State University. He served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked as a newspaper reporter before entering politics in the late 1960s. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 to succeed 1st District Congressman Keith Sebelius, for whom he had worked. He served eight terms in the House, including one as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Roberts was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, and is currently serving his third term. He has a conservative voting record. On the Intelligence Committee he was responsible for an investigation into the intelligence failures prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He led the creation of the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program in 2004.
Early life, education, and early political career
Roberts was born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Ruth B. (née Patrick) and C. Wesley Roberts. His father served for four months as Chairman of the Republican National Committee under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Roberts's great-grandfather, J.W. Roberts, was the founder of the Oskaloosa Independent, which claims to be the second-oldest newspaper in Kansas.
Roberts graduated in 1954 from high school in Holton, Kansas. He went on to earn a B.A. in Journalism from Kansas State University in 1958, where he became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. From 1958 to 1962, he served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. Roberts was a reporter and editor for several Arizona newspapers before joining the staff of Republican Kansas Senator Frank Carlson in 1967. In 1969, he became administrative assistant to Kansas's 1st District Congressman Keith Sebelius.
U.S. House of Representatives (1981–1997)
After Keith Sebelius announced his retirement, Roberts easily won the Republican primary, which was tantamount to election in the heavily Republican 1st District. He was re-elected seven times without serious difficulty, never receiving less than 60 percent of the vote; in 1988, he ran unopposed.
Roberts served as the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1995 to 1997.
U.S. Senator (1997–)
Following the retirement of Senator Nancy Kassebaum, Roberts easily won the Republican primary. In the general election, he defeated Democratic State Treasurer Sally Thompson with 62 percent of the vote, almost certainly helped by the presence of Bob Dole atop the ticket as the Republican presidential candidate. No Democratic candidate opposed Roberts in 2002, allowing him to win re-election to a second term with 82.5% of the vote. Roberts won a third term in 2008, taking 60% of the vote against former Congressman Jim Slattery.
Roberts became Kansas's senior senator in the 112th Congress, as Brownback is retired from the Senate to run for Governor. Roberts was a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, chairing the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. This subcommittee oversaw the military's work in the area of homeland security and the efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
Roberts's voting record is conservative. Among other issues, he is pro-life, opposes same-sex marriage and supports the Patriot Act, and loosening restrictions on NSA wiretapping.
Roberts opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Investigation into pre-war intelligence on Iraq
As chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Roberts was responsible for the committee's investigation into the intelligence failures prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The first half of the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq was released on July 9, 2004. The second half, according to language voted on by the full Committee, consists of five parts including: whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information; the postwar findings about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments; prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq; any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and the use by the Intelligence Community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC).
On November 1, 2005, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called the Senate into a rare closed session. The move was "an attempt to get around the perceived stalling by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). Roberts had promised in July 2004 to investigate the Bush administration's misuse of intelligence before the Iraq War, but to date has not released any findings of such an investigation."
Almost two years after finishing of Phase I investigation, Roberts released the Committee's schedule for completion of Phase II on March 14, 2006, saying, “Today members of the Committee were provided three draft reports of the Phase II inquiry including: postwar findings about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments, the use by the Intelligence Community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq.
“The Committee’s efforts on Phase II must be completed in a timely manner,” Roberts said. “I intend to complete this inquiry within the agreed upon Phase II parameters and turn the Committee’s attention to other pressing national security matters.
“Two of the drafts given to members today are complete or close to completion. The third is still being revised. Members were briefed by Committee staff, in detail, about each draft. Staff continues to work on a draft of the fourth report on public statements. The Committee will receive this draft when it is ready.
“It is my intention to complete work on the drafts presented to members today following the Easter recess. During the recess, staff will receive and incorporate member input where appropriate in order to complete the three drafts. They will begin drafting conclusions for member consideration.
“In order to expedite the declassification process so that the American people can review the information, the drafts of the factual findings of the report will be sent to the Intelligence Community for fact checking and declassification with the understanding that they are not final until approved by the Committee.
“Following the recess, the Committee will engage in a series of closed business meetings to move forward on Phase II which will include Committee approval of factual findings and conclusions.”
On August 3, 2006, Chairman Roberts publicly released the findings of fact and conclusions of the first two of the Phase II reports.
On February 16, 2006, the Committee voted to create a seven member subcommittee to conduct enhanced oversight of the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program, instead of a vote called by committee Democrats to investigate the misconduct by administration because the program is claimed by many scholars as breaking the 1978 law of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A New York Times editorial accused Roberts of "trying to give legal cover to the president's trampling on the law and the Constitution."
Roberts was one of nine Senators to vote against the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 on October 5, 2005.
On September 28, 2006, Roberts voted with a largely Republican majority to suspend habeas corpus provisions for anyone deemed by the Executive Branch an "unlawful combatant," barring them from challenging their detentions in court. Roberts's vote gave a retroactive, nine-year immunity to U.S. officials who authorized, ordered, or committed acts of torture and abuse, permitting the use of statements obtained through torture to be used in military tribunals so long as the abuse took place by December 30, 2005. Roberts's vote authorized the President to establish permissible interrogation techniques and to "interpret the meaning and application" of international Geneva Convention standards, so long as the coercion fell short of "serious" bodily or psychological injury. The bill became law on October 17, 2006.
Roberts worked to secure $15 million for research on carbon sequestration.
The nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters has given Roberts a score of zero on environmental issues for 2006. In that year, the senator voted to increase offshore oil drilling, to include provisions for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the House Budget Amendment, to deny funding for low-income energy assistance and for environmental stewardship, and effectively to exempt Army Corps of Engineers project analyses from independent review. Roberts voted to confirm Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior, to exclude oil and gas smokestacks from mercury regulations, and to reclassify the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Cabinet department — moves widely seen as pro-business and anti-environment.
The 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act saw the creation of the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program. The program links undergraduate and graduate students with US security and intelligence agencies" by providing funding to selected US students entering university, in return for a commitment to join the agency for at least 18 months on graduation. PRISP is a decentralized program which funds students through various intelligence agencies
Roberts married Franki Fann in 1969. The couple has three adult children: David, Ashleigh, and Anne-Wesley.