Monday, March 13, 2006

Feingold to Introduce Resolution Censuring Bush

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) said that he would introduce a resolution in the Senate today to censure George W. Bush for approving illegal wiretaps on American citizens. Speaking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, Feingold said the time has come for some degree of official condemnation from the legislative branch of government for domestic wiretapping that was done without obtaining required court orders.

“It's a big step, but what the president did by consciously and intentionally violating the Constitution and laws of this country with this illegal wiretapping, has to be answered," said the Wisconsin Senator, who is considered a sure bet for a 2008 presidential run. “There can be debate about whether the law should be changed. There can be debate about how best to fight terrorism. We all believe that there should be wiretapping in appropriate cases -- but the idea that the president can just make up a law, in violation of his oath of office, has to be answered.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), appearing later on the same program, went after Feingold and, after invoking 9/11 almost out of habit, said that the president’s illegal conduct should not be the focus of attention.

“Here we are, the Republican Party, the leadership in the Congress, supporting the president of the United States as commander in chief who is out there fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and the people who have sworn -- have sworn -- to destroy Western civilization and all the families listening to us,” said Frist. “And they're out now attacking -- at least today through this proposed censure vote -- out attacking our commander in chief.”

It’s too bad Feingold wasn’t still on the set so he could have challenged Frist on that misleading statement. Feingold has been in the lead on reminding Americans that, in addition to Osama bin Laden still running free, al Qaeda remains in 60 countries well over four years after Bush pledged to "smoke them out." Heck of a job, Bushie.

Among other things, the Feingold resolution says “…that the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, president of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans."

And a press release at his web site goes on to further illuminate the number of times Bush has lied about the program, including this quote from April of 2004.
“Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.”
Remember, this was said while the illegal eavesdropping on Americans was occurring and without the court orders Bush claimed were being used.

Asked by Stephanopoulos whether he believes most of his colleagues will support a censure of the president, Feingold indicated that, despite the spineless showing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on this same issue last week, he was hopeful other Senators would have some sense of their Constitutional duties.

“What I'm interested in is my colleagues acknowledging that we as a Congress have to stand up to a president who acts as if the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on September 11,” Feingold said. “We didn't enact martial law on September 11. We still have a constitutional form of government, and if the Congress of the United States does not stand up for that authority at this point, it will be an historic failure of our system of government.”