Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Feingold Roasts Bush on Senate Floor

After a frustrating day trying to get a word of truth out of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) lit into George W. Bush on the Senate floor Tuesday for the president’s illegal domestic spying.

Here’s some excerpts from his prepared text:
The President issued a call [in his State of The Union speech] to spread freedom throughout the world, and then he admitted that he has deprived Americans of one of their most basic freedoms under the Fourth Amendment -- to be free from unjustified government intrusion.

The President was blunt. He said that he had authorized the NSA’s domestic spying program, and he made a number of misleading arguments to defend himself. His words got rousing applause from Republicans, and even some Democrats.

The President was blunt, so I will be blunt: This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.

How is that worthy of applause? Since when do we celebrate our commander in chief for violating our most basic freedoms, and misleading the American people in the process? When did we start to stand up and cheer for breaking the law? In that moment at the State of the Union, I felt ashamed.

Congress has lost its way if we don’t hold this President accountable for his actions.
Feingold also debunks the ridiculous spin being offered by Team Bush that the president’s actions are consistent with what other presidents, such as Wilson and Roosevelt, have done throughout history:
Let’s examine for a moment some of the President’s attempts to defend his actions. His arguments have changed over time, of course. They have to – none of them hold up under even casual scrutiny, so he can’t rely on one single explanation. As each argument crumbles beneath him, he moves on to a new one, until that, too, is debunked, and on and on he goes.

In the State of the Union, the President referred to Presidents in American history who cited executive authority to order warrantless surveillance. But of course those past presidents – like Wilson and Roosevelt – were acting before the Supreme Court decided in 1967 that our communications are protected by the Fourth Amendment, and before Congress decided in 1978 that the executive branch can no longer unilaterally decide which Americans to wiretap. The Attorney General yesterday was unable to give me one example of a President who, since 1978 when FISA was passed, has authorized warrantless wiretaps outside of FISA.

So that argument is baseless, and it’s deeply troubling that the President of the United States would so obviously mislead the Congress and American public. That hardly honors the founders’ idea that the President should address the Congress on the state of our union.
And this about the Iraq war:
We all recall the President’s “Mission Accomplished” banner on the aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003. In fact, the mission was not even close to being complete. More than 2100 total deaths have occurred after the President declared an end to major combat operations in May of 2003, and over 16,600 American troops have been wounded in Iraq. The President misled the American people and grossly miscalculated the true challenge of stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.
Please go to the Senator’s web site and read the entire thing by a man who, as much as I deplore talking about 2008 with bigger fish to fry in 2006, is sounding very much like my idea of a presidential candidate.