Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) denied that a nuclear Iran would pose a national security threat to the United States or Israel in a 2007 radio interview with talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“Even our own intelligence community consensus opinion now is that they’re not a threat. Like my dad [Rep. Ron Paul] says, [the Iranians] don’t have an Air Force, they don’t have a Navy,” said Paul, according to a recording of the interview. “You know, it’s ridiculous to think they’re a threat to our national security.”
“It’s not even that viable to say they’re a national threat to Israel,” Paul added. “Most people say Israel has 100 nuclear weapons, you know.”
The future senator, who was working on his father’s presidential campaign at the time, also came out against military action, saying Republicans “all want to invade Iran next.”
“I tell people in speeches, I say, you know we're against the Iraq War, we have been from the beginning,” said Paul. “But you know we're also against the Iran war—you know the one that hasn't started yet.”
In a recent Washington Post column, Paul said he does not support containment of a nuclear Iran, but believes it should be an option.
Since joining the Senate he has stopped short of saying that a nuclear Iran would not endanger U.S. and Israeli national security.
Last year, Paul voted in favor of a resolution led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), which recognized “the tremendous threat posed to the United States, the West, and Israel by Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” and passed unanimously in the Senate.
The head of Rand Paul's official PAC told the Free Beacon that Paul has never claimed Iran is not a threat to the U.S. and Israel.
"It has always been Senator Paul's position that Iran poses a threat," said Rand PAC head and Paul's former chief of staff Doug Stafford.
Paul’s past statements on Iran are not the only ones that could pose a problem for him as he tries to reposition himself into the Republican Party’s foreign policy mainstream.
Paul recently came under fire from conservative columnists after Mother Jones unearthed a 2009 speech in which he suggested Vice President Dick Cheney supported the Iraq War because of his past work for defense contractor Halliburton.
The Kentucky senator’s past is littered with similar political landmines, which could provide fodder for opponents and ad-makers if he decides to run for president in 2016.
Paul has also endorsed “One World Government” conspiracy theories, including theories about the Bilderberg Group, a closed-door annual conference that brings together influential political and financial leaders from around the world.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Bilderberg Group is a popular target of extremists and conspiracy theorists who claim it “is a shadowy force seeking to control world events, exerting allegedly dominating powers of international influence to promote a ‘new world order’ under their control.”
In one 2010 interview, anti-Bilderberg activist and independent journalist Luke Rudkowski asked Paul what he knew about the Bilderberg Group.
“Only what I've learned from Alex Jones,” said Paul. “I'm not probably the world expert on it, but I think it's people who get together, who are very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage.”
Paul said opponents should “combat” and “expose” the Bilderbergs and said the group would benefit financially off of “world government.”
“[The Bilderberg Group] want[s] to make it out like they just want to help humanity and world government would be good for humanity,” said Paul. “Well guess what—world government's good for their pocketbook. They’re very wealthy and they use government to make more money for themselves, and that's where you expose them.”
Paul also discussed the Bilderberg conspiracy with Jones in a 2010 interview shortly before he announced his Senate run, saying “we should expose people who are, you know, promoting this globalist agenda for personal gain and for financial gain at the expense of the rest of our country and at the expense of our Republic.”
Paul has neither confirmed nor repudiated these views since joining the Senate. In 2012, Rudkowski again confronted Paul about the Bilderberg Group, but the senator declined to answer.
In the six-minute video, Paul and a staffer try to dodge Rudkowski on Capitol Hill, as he follows them and peppers the senator with questions about the conspiracy theory.
“I know it’s an uncomfortable question, I know you know a lot about the Bilderberg Group” said Rudkowski, holding a video camera inches from Paul’s face. “Rand, the Bilderberg Group is a very serious group.”
Paul did not respond; at several points, a member of his staff intervened to try to wave off the persistent activist.
“You were willing to talk to me before I brought up Bilderberg,” said Rudkowski. “I know you can hear me. Rand, I know you’re trying to ignore me.”
Rand PAC head Doug Stafford dismissed the notion that Paul had ever embraced the Bilderberg conspiracy theory, telling the Free Beacon that Paul has always believed "Build a Burger would be a great name for a fast food chain."
"And before you ask, no Dr. Paul does not beat his wife," added Stafford.
Paul has previously struggled to distance himself from controversial associates and elements of his father’s political movement.
Last summer, the Washington Free Beacon reported that one of Paul’s close aides and book coauthor spent over a decade working as a pro-secessionist radio host known as the Southern Avenger.
The aide, Jack Hunter, who also coauthored Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, wore a confederate flag luchador mask and published commentary praising the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.
Hunter, who has renounced these views, resigned from Paul’s office shortly after the controversy broke.
Earlier this week, Mother Jones reported on a 2009 speech in which Paul suggests Cheney supported the Iraq War because of his work for Halliburton, and called the Sept. 11 attacks “an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq.”
“Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton. Makes hundreds of millions of dollars, their CEO,” said Paul in the speech at Western Kentucky University. “Next thing you know, he's back in government and it's a good idea to go into Iraq.”
Mother Jones also reported that Paul blasted the Bush administration for using enhanced interrogation techniques against War on Terror detainees in a 2009 interview with AntiWar.com.
Last August, Paul floated the theory that the chemical weapons attack in Syria was a false flag attack by the Syrian opposition, citing a column by Pat Buchanan that made a similar argument.
“To whose benefit is this? All of this redounds back to this is to the benefit of the rebels because now it’s bringing other people in on their side. So there is a great incentive for this to actually have been launched by rebels, not the Syrian army,” said Paul.
Paul’s father, 2012 presidential candidate Ron Paul, has routinely faced problems with controversial associations.
In 2011, the New Republic reported on the elder Paul’s newsletters, which included racially charged commentary in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Rep. Paul said he was not aware of the content, and that the offending columns were written by an unknown member of his staff.
Last August, Rep. Paul spoke at a conference hosted by a defrocked Catholic leader who denied the Holocaust in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. Rep. Paul is also a supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for handing over hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Assange.
The Free Beacon reported in March that several members of the elder Paul’s think tank, the Ron Paul Institute, have worked at public relations outlets for Russia and other repressive regimes.