by Dave Lindorff
This Can’t Be Happening
August 04, 2007
What was Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) thinking when he told Senate colleagues it was a “sad day” when that body started taking its marching orders from an outsider (the president and the director of national security), in passing a new version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that gives the president a free hand to spy on communications of Americans without a judicial review?
Is he implying that this is the first time the Senate has done this?
Isn’t that exactly what the Senate (and the House) did when they passed the so-called USA PATRIOT Act in October, 2001? Isn’t that what they did in overturning the Posse Comitatus Act and in altering the Insurrection Act last fall? Isn’t it what they did in approving the Military Commissions Act last year, which retroactively okayed the use of torture on captives?
The truth is that the Senate and House have both become little more than rubber stamps for Administration power grabs ever since 9-11. Indeed, since that date, the members of Congress have been willing sell-outs of their own institution, which today bears no resemblance to what the Founders described in Article I of the Constitution–a document which the members have effectively destroyed.
For the past six-and-a-half years we have watched as a group of political midgets have destroyed what hundreds of thousands of our ancestors put their lives on the line to create and defend–a government system that was founded on the concept of individual rights and liberties, and that was structured to limit the power of the executive.
Much has been made of a conversation at the White House a few years ago, in which Bush is reported to have told a few Republican members of the House that the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper.” In fact, that is what the members of Congress have also decided by their actions–and by their continued inaction.
Prior to 2006, it was primarily the Republicans in Congress who were trashing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the concept of separation of powers, though with significant Democratic backing. Now, it is the Democrats who are the wrecking crew.
Make no mistake: the Democrats did not have to pass this latest piece of legislation, loosing the NSA spies on us all. They had the power to kill that bill in its tracks. Instead, they succumbed to the President’s empty threat to label them all “soft on terror” if they didn’t give him what he wanted: a blank check. They caved, just as they did when they had the power to end the war in Iraq last April by cutting off funding for it, and instead, voted to fund it in full.
The Democrats in this Congress are a bunch of spineless cowards and willing enablers, and they now bear the chief responsibility for establishing the elements of an American police state.
For that is clearly where this nation is headed.
There was no need to give the president new warrantless surveillance powers. Would be terrorists are already fully aware of the government’s spying capabilities and certainly are being cautious in their use of phones and email to communicate. Moreover, the secret FISA court has demonstrated that it is most accommodating of spying requests, having only rejected one such request from the President and National Security Agency in the past two years. It is obvious then that what the president is seeking is expanded power to spy on Americans. And incredibly, despite his 27-percent support rating in the polls, and despite widespread public fears of this kind of government snooping, he is getting it.
Sen. Feingold has been one of the staunchest defenders of the Constitution, voting against the USA Patriot Act and against the invasion of Iraq, but he is wrong to imply that before Friday’s betrayal of that document, the Senate was acting as an independent body. Both the Senate and the House ceased playing their constitutional role and became rubber stamps a long time ago.
Instead of empty rhetoric, Sen. Feingold needs to take action and mount a filibuster against this shameful and dangerous bill, so that when it comes back for a final vote after being reconciled with whatever comes out of the House, it is killed.
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What will the history books say about us? How we let down the American citizenship and democracy as a whole? Will they be reading the truth about how it is that the Democratic majority stood up for what is right and did the right things and said no to the present President and his hench men and to have them impeached on high Crimes treason and misdemeanors. Well none so far has shown any such back bone so far. No one has the inner self fortitude to do the right things.
Well just my two cents worth in is what I think: I would rather think history will show to the children whom are still able to read. It will show how cowardly the Democratic majority leading house caved to a power hungry president and his hench men. How we lost our constitutional rights freely given away by a complacent Democratic majority wanting to head off for their August vacations or their spineless fears fed by supposed terrorist communications. Must be nice to be able to have the huge benefits packages, that they all have health care, and the huge salaries, not to mention the 4 weeks vacation, that most Americans don’t get the same rights or enjoyment of… But that’s just me you know? Or the no back bone theories take your pick? Which is the real reason? I just couldn’t believe that the democrats were allowing it to happen. I was wondering what the is going on? Did I miss something did they add something in there to protect the citizens rights again? What happened? No it was so they could leave on vacation and or be spineless. I was so disgusted with the Democrats that of which I am I suppose a member of…
I feel so betrayed and let down. Maybe violated is the right term? Which term would you use I ask you? Constitutionally raped? Bill of rights screwed?
Weapons have disappeared and are being used against the Americans or when the part where we have been there for 6 and ½ years and were still there is the same position that they were in from the very beginning. It is really piss poor planning on some one whom is supposedly in charge to hasn’t even gotten his act together enough to have a mission statement workable and up and running in 6 and ½ years to do it in and it still isn’t done. It still isn’t complete and the supposed terrorist that supposedly did the terrorist acts in the first place still isn’t caught supposedly. Who is the real criminal here? Who is the planner? Who is it that makes sure the things are supposed to be done have been done? Why are our troops still in Iraq? Who even knows what is going on? Who did the Congress allow our troops to attack in the first place? Was those orders never carried out with 6 and ½ years? Who is leading and why? Why no clear cut mission statement that our troops and our troop’s leaders have to accomplish? Does any one have an idea? What is the plan why isn’t it being executed? What the….
Who is more clueless the Iraqi people or government or our president and our government or just us plain ole dumb Americans like me? I have no clue!!! It must be me that I am clueless and the news papers and the TV news wants to keep us all like that!!!
Namiste and peace,
Namiste peace to you all,
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Amen and thank you, Mr. Lindorff. A filibuster is exactly what’s needed. Ceding any further powers to Shrub and His Thugs should be out of the question — and it should be further made clear that their days of “demanding” anything from Congress are over. The Dems were elected to take charge, not keep acting like whipped puppies. I’ve been blogging about this today, too.