Friday, March 31, 2006

Feingold Speaks

BY NTODD

Not surprisingly, I've found little coverage of today's Judiciary hearing, and the committee's website hasn't even been updated with the witnesses' prepared remarks yet. Feingold has at least posted his opening statement, and here's the meat:
If Congress doesn’t have the power to define the contours of the President’s Article II powers through legislation, then I have no idea why people are scrambling to draft legislation to authorize what they think the President is doing. If the President’s legal theory, which is shared by some of our witnesses today, is correct, then FISA is a dead letter, all of the supposed protections for civil liberties contained in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act that we just passed are a cruel hoax, and any future legislation we might pass regarding surveillance or national security is a waste of time and a charade. Under this theory, we no longer have a constitutional system consisting of three co-equal branches of government, we have a monarchy.

We can fight terrorism without breaking the law. The rule of law is central to who we are as a people, and the President must return to the law. He must acknowledge and be held accountable for his illegal actions and for misleading the American people, both before and after the program was revealed. If we in the Congress don’t stand up for ourselves and for the American people, we become complicit in his law breaking. A resolution of censure is the appropriate response – even a modest approach.

Mr. Chairman, the presence of John Dean here today should remind us that we must respond to this constitutional crisis based on principle, not partisanship. How we respond to the President’s actions will become part of our history. A little over 30 years ago, a President who broke the law was held to account by a bipartisan congressional investigation and by patriots like Archibald Cox and Elliot Richardson and yes, John Dean, who put loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law above the interests of the President who appointed them. None of us here can predict how history will view this current episode. But I hope that thirty years from now, this Senate will not be seen to have backed down in the face of such a grave challenge to our constitutional system.

Right on. It still astounds me that more Dems have not gotten onboard. How can you be an opposition party if you don't oppose? How can you act like a Senator if you cede lawmaking power to the Executive?

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2 comments:

Cranky Daze said...

Can the Republicans back-date a law making Bush's prior bad acts legal at a time when they were obviously illegal? I don't think so, but then I also find myself amazed on a daily basis at the unmitigated gall of the neocons, not to mention the spectacular ignorance implicit in ignoring the outrage of the people who have the power to vote them out of office.

There is, as I see it, two explanations for the position taken by Republicans who kowtow religiously to the administration. The first would be that they're scared out of their puny minds that Karl Rove will punish them. The second, and most likely, is that they are themselves nose-deep in the corruption that has infested the GOP. Their concern for their country appears to be nil when they defend and protect a criminal president, not out of some belief that is the right thing to do, but from fear that challenging his mischief will impact their wallets and alienate the lobbyists who provide them with all those delicious perks that keep their lives so comfortable.

I suggest a law making it a felony to support criminal acts by the government, "accessory after the fact" or something like that, as in criminal trials. A little time in the Big House and the loss of their voting rights could go a long way in getting through their heads that the laws of this country mean business.

lucretia said...

AMEN! Cranky daze, this is how it's done.