Friday, April 13, 2007

Leahy On Democratic Senate's First 100 Days

There's a lot I could write about the accomplishments of the Democratic Senate in its first 100 days, but I'd rather give you audio of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) , chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee as he spoke on the Senate floor yesterday. Leahy talked of his committee's accomplishments in the first part of the 110th Congress -- and while watching a crooked Bush administration, his committee is arguably the most important of all -- and speaks of the work ahead to restore the American peoples' faith in government.

An excerpt:
"We have heard the American people’s call for accountability and competence in their government and have started making those goals a reality. We have returned the focus to the rights and interests of the American people.

"Just as I have commended the Members of the Judiciary Committee for their help and active participation in the work of our Committee, I come to the Senate today to thank the Majority Leader and those Senators who have been working so hard to restore balance to our government, protect the liberties and rights of all Americans and revive America’s leadership in the world.

"First and foremost, we are making progress restoring the Senate and the Congress to their proper constitutional role. From the FBI’s illegal and improper use of National Security Letters to the politically motivated dismissal of so many of the Nation’s U.S. Attorneys, there are concerns about the competence and independence of the Department of Justice. This pattern of abuse of authority and mismanagement causes me, and many others on both sides of the aisle, to wonder whether the FBI and Department of Justice have been faithful stewards of the great trust that the Congress and American people have placed in them.

"We need to keep our Nation safe, while respecting the privacy rights and civil liberties of all Americans. Last year in the former Congress, the Administration sought expanded powers in the PATRIOT Act reauthorization to appoint U.S. Attorneys without Senate confirmation, and to more freely use National Security Letters. The Administration got these powers, and they have badly bungled both.

"The Judiciary Committee early oversight efforts included our January 18 hearing with Attorney General Gonzales. There we examined the change in course of this Administration, which had engaged in warrantless wiretapping of Americans contrary to the law for years. Under the watchful eye of the new Congress, the President’s program for warrantless wiretaps on Americans has been revised and the government is seeking approval for all such wiretaps from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as the law requires."
Leahy goes on to talk more about the Alberto Gonzales scandal, the mysterious missing e-mails from the White House and other issues under his purview in the Judiciary Committee.

And he ends with this:
"The new Congress is off to a strong start in restoring accountability, in revitalizing the checks and balances of our system, and in earning back the public’s trust in government that has eroded during a rubberstamp Congress. Much remains to be done but we have made meaningful progress in just 100 days."
It's about 12 minutes (with about eight seconds of "dead air" at the start). Please have a listen.