Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FISA Debate in the Senate: Senator Chris Dodd's Remarks

Senator Chris Dodd(D-CT), along with Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) have all announced that they will filibuster the FISA legislation before the Senate, which passed the House last week with retroactive telecom immunity.

Here is an excerpt of Senator Dodd's remarks from tonight. In the speech, Dodd not only expresses his opposition to retroactive immunity for telecoms, but he also skewers the Bush Administration for its long train of abuses and usurpations(to borrow from the Declaration of Independence).

And let me make clear, at the outset of this debate, that this is not about domestic surveillance itself. We all recognize the importance of domestic surveillance – in an age of unprecedented threats. This is about illegal, unwarranted, unchecked domestic surveillance.

And that difference—the difference between surveillance that is lawful, warranted and that which is not—is everything.

Mr. President, I had hoped I would not have to return to this floor again under these circumstances – hoped that in these negotiations we would have been able to turn aside retroactive immunity on the grounds that it is bad policy and sets a terrible precedent.

As all of my colleagues know, I have long fought against retroactive immunity, because I believe, quite simply, it is an abandonment of the rule of law.


Opponents of immunity, including myself, have stated that we would support a reasonable alternative to blanket retroactive immunity.

No one seriously wants to financially cripple our telecommunications industry. The point is to bring checks and balances back to domestic spying. Setting that precedent would hardly require a crippling judgment.

It’s much more troubling, though, that our Director of National Intelligence even bothers to speak to “liability protection for private sector entities.”

This isn’t the Secretary of Commerce we’re talking about, but the head of our nation’s intelligence efforts.

For that matter, how does that even begin to be relevant to letting this case go forward? Since when did we throw entire suits out because the defendant stood to lose too much?

It astounds me that some can speak in the same breath about national security and bottom lines. Approve immunity, and Congress will state clearly: The richer you are, the more successful you are, the more lawless you are entitled to be. A suit against you is a danger to the Republic!

And so, at the rock-bottom of its justifications, the telecoms’ advocates are essentially arguing that immunity can be bought.

Give the whole speech a read, it's worth it. And thanks to Senator Dodd for standing up for the Constitution and rule of law. He's been a consistent and strong voice on this issue.


Blogger renegade said...

If my mind hasn't failed me, these actions by the telecoms remind me of what the government did when Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had arranged to divert CIA intel to a special office for gathering intelligence. Between Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney, they arranged to have all intel being fed into this office provide data with all the normal filters removed. It was the kind of situation that was ripe for someone to float the highly bogus information about a letter from the Nigerian government relating yellow cake uranium and Iraq, and the subsequent lead up to the war. I don't need to belabor the details about what our government did to abuse their trustee status to operate in the interest of the general citizenry, or their unscrupulous behavior to get us where we are today.

How does this relate to the telecom issue?

If our government could do what they did to abuse sensitive intelligence; intelligence (found later to be false) that led us into a war that will arguably be the end of America as we know it; what kind of abuses are occurring with the OTHER illegal intelligence they are gathering in our phone conversations and emails? How many people have been imprisoned (even tortured) as a result of these actions?

In addition, I don't see where timelines fit into this argument. As I see it this legislation applies to the time since Sept 11, 2001; what about prior to that time? Is that why Congress gave in to the compromise legislation? Of course it doesn't have ANYTHING to do with all the money telecoms donated to numerous Congressional members lately (namely Hoyer and Pelosi among others)...

Thank you Senators Dodd, Feingold, and Wyden for standing up for the constitution and doing your job the way it should be done.

June 25, 2008 2:15 PM  

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