Monday, December 17, 2007

The Magnificent Ten (Updated)

By Cernig

Here's the magnificent ten who voted against cloture on the telecom immunity bill aka S. 2248 (FISA Amendments Act of 2007) :

Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Dodd (D-CT), Feingold (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Kerry (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Wyden (D-OR).

Among the 14 who were absent or did not vote were Obama, Clinton, Biden, McCain, Lieberman and, to my personal disgust, Sanders. WTF Bernie? Unless you were bleeding from the eyes, I won't forgive this one.

Think Progress quotes Dodds:
So here we are–facing a final decision on whether the telecommunications companies will get off the hook for good. The president’s allies are as intent as they ever were on making that happen. They want immunity back in this bill at all costs.

But what they’re truly offering is secrecy in place of openness. Fiat in place of law.

And in place of the forthright argument and judicial deliberation that ought to be this country’s pride, two simple words from our president’s mouth: “Trust me.”

I cannot speak for my colleagues–but I would never take that offer, not even in the best of times, not even from a perfect president. I would never take that offer because our Constitution tells us that the president’s word is subject to the oversight of the Congress and the deliberation of the courts; and because I took an oath to defend the Constitution; and because I stand by my oath.
Even Leahy, who voted "Yea" to cloture, says:
"This administration violated FISA by conducting warrantless surveillance for more than five years. They got caught, and if they hadn’t, they would probably still be doing it. When the public found out about the president’s illegal surveillance of Americans, the administration and the telephone companies were sued by citizens who believe their privacy and their rights were violated. Now the administration is trying to get this Congress to terminate those lawsuits in order to insulate itself from accountability. We should not allow this to happen."
But it seems as if that's exactly what is going to happen unless Dodd and a few other brave souls manage to filibuster. Kagro at DKos explains where that could go from here.

Over at TP, commenters are calling this as the bitter end of progressive hopes that the Democratic party is ever going to be more than Republican-Lite. I have to say I agree with that. I saw Tony Blair dangle electability before the UK's Labour Party, then turn and destroy everything that party had stood for. Now I'm seeing the beltway oligarchy do the same to Democrats. Yet neither party ever had to do more to get elected, at the actual moment of betrayal, than contrast their original and true beliefs with the excesses of conservative rule the electorate were all too familiar with.

Update Dodd's presidential campaign blog puts it well: "Constitution Protected...For Now".
Majority Leader Harry Reid has just pulled the FISA bill from consideration in this session. It will be brought up at some point next month.

Without Senator Dodd's leadership today, it is safe to assume that retroactive immunity would have passed.

This is a great victory for the American people. His outspoken opposition to retroactive immunity and the Intelligence Committee's FISA bill made it impossible to move forward now. From a process standpoint, that took the persistent shadow of a Dodd filibuster on this legislative process, a "hold" against any legislation that included retroactive immunity, and today, a refusal to grant unanimous consent to rules of debate that would have made it harder to strip retroactive immunity from the Intel Committee's bill through the Dodd-Feingold Amendment. He brought along some of the Senate's most passionate voices -- Senator's Feingold, Kennedy, Boxer, Wyden, Brown and Bill Nelson joined him to stand up to the President today.

Throughout the day Senator Dodd stood on the Senate floor and spoke out against the Bush administration's abuse of executive powers. He spoke out against granting retroactive immunity for telecom companies who helped the Bush administration spy on Americans without warrant - noting that if we grant immunity now, we may never know the full extent of what happened behind closed doors and what arguments were used to justify warrantless surveillance.

For now, the FISA debate is over. It will come up again down the road, but for now everyone who supported Senator Dodd's leadership against retroactive immunity and supported his promise to filibuster should be proud of their work to defend the Constitution and the rule of law.
Think Progress reports that Rockefeller (D-Telcos) is disappointed. Poor him. Think they'll ask for their campaign funds back?

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