Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dodd puts "hold" on FISA

In his courageous move today to blog the FISA "amnesty" bill, Senator Dodd may have revealed a dirty little secret about the Senate.

It seems that every single senator has an extraordinary amount of power in the way bills are allowed to proceed! Check this out:
"Dodd Ends Spying, No Senator Will Do Same for War"
by David Swanson, Op-Ed News.Com:

Senator Chris Dodd on Thursday single-handedly blocked a bill to legalize unconstitutional spying and immunize criminals who have engaged in it. But by doing so, Dodd may have made the biggest blunder Washington has seen in many months. He advertised the fact that a single senator with nerve has the power to block a bill, including – of course – every bill to further fund the occupation of Iraq. Now, how will Dodd explain his past and future failure to use the same power to end the war that he has used to end warrantless spying? How will other senators, including Harry Reid, explain their own failure? How will Nancy Pelosi manage to keep asserting in every conversation that only 67 senators can end a war?

Dodd released the following statement:
It's been a busy day, but I wanted take a moment and let you know that I have decided to place a "hold" on legislation in the Senate that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.

I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.
It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution.

But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today.
But blocking a bill, not passing one, is exactly what's needed to get our troops and mercenaries home from Iraq. It is a lie that Congress must pass a bill to end the occupation of Iraq. The occupation can be ended with an announcement by Congressional leaders that there will be no more funding. Any proposal to fund it can be blocked by 41 senators filibustering or by a single senator putting a hold on the bill. Bush has plenty of money for withdrawal and could be given more for that exclusive purpose. When your television tells you the Democrats need 60 or 67 senators to end the occupation, your television is lying to you.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could if they wanted announce today that the House and Senate will no longer bring to a vote any bills to fund anything other than withdrawal. They have many colleagues already on board with that position, not to mention two thirds of the country. It would take 218 signatures on a discharge petition to force a bill to the floor of the House without Pelosi's approval. It is unlikely enough Democrats would oppose their party to fund Bush's war in that way. In the Senate, Reid alone could refuse to bring a bill to the floor, or another senator could put an open or secret hold on a bill. And, while not all bills can be filibustered (appropriations bills can be, budget reconciliation bills cannot), you can hardly claim you need 60 votes to get past a filibuster without admitting that with only 41 you could launch your own filibuster and that with 51 you could defeat any bill. Once you understand the goal as blocking bills rather than passing them, the number of allies you need shrinks dramatically.

In fact, Senator Dodd has just very publicly advertised his ability to take action on Iraq in January, thereby earning the right to be president. This would be a major shift from his current proposal that we elect him president first, after which he'll see about ending the war.

Thank Dodd and urge others to join him in blocking the FISA bill here:

4th Congressional District candidate Jim Himes ( issued the following statement today:
"I applaud Sen. Dodd for his bold leadership today in announcing that he will place a hold on Senate FISA legislation that gives retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who may have broken the law in spying on American citizens without warrants.

Whether these companies broke the law by going along with President Bush's warrantless wiretap program is a matter for the courts to decide, not for Congress, and certainly not for President Bush. It is long past time that Congress stop rubber-stamping Administration policies which are so contemptuous both of the Constitution and of our nation's longstanding commitment to the rule of law.

We need more leaders in Congress who will stand up for a competent national security policy and against unchecked executive power to spy on American citizens. I am very proud to be Sen. Dodd's constituent today."


vagabondblogger said...

I have to say, watching the debates here in Cairo (yeah, we got just about all of them), the more Dodd opened his mouth, the more I liked the guy. He explains things very naturally, in clear terms, with no triangulation, or, bullshit. He actually seems to "understand" the issues, and seems like a straight shooter.

As for FISA - It's a pet peeve of mine. I can't wait to get back to the States to see if I still hear strange pings on my phone. This bill targets "anyone" calling from overseas, and the Bush Administration wants to use it to trace calls on through others. Once they've got the overseas connection, they then can go on to track calls (say from my home in CT) to anyone else who has called me, or vice versa, and then down on the line. This is pretty much what Qwest CEO testified to, when he recently stated the government requesting phone tapping before 9-11, and he felt it was illegal, refused to cooperate, and subsequently lost a government contract.

I can only say that Chris Dodd has the balls that most of the others in Congress lack. Like I said, the more I hear about him, the more I like him. - Sorry for the long comment.

CT Bob said...

Long comments are welcome! Especially when they're as logical and well-presented as yours...thanks!