Those of you who were in the Crack Van with us this morning heard it in the original, delivered by a righteously pissed off Chris Dodd, who along with Russ Feingold was about the only person in the Senate fully awake today. But if you missed it, or wanted the full version unsullied by kitten noises, applause, vague sexual innuendo and recipes, why, I’m here to serve:
Mr. President, I oppose the Intelligence bill on these five counts for the same reason I oppose retroactive immunity: because where the president’s power is strongest, the rule of law should be strongest, as well. The Intelligence Committee’s bill means more power—and less law.
It reduces court oversight nearly to the point of symbolism; it could allow the targeting of Americans on false pretences; it opens us up to new, twisted rationales for warrantless wiretapping, the very thing it ought to prevent; it could allow bulk collection, as soon as an administration has the wherewithal to build such an enormous dragnet; and it sets all of these deeply flawed provisions in stone for six years.
In sum, Mr. President, the Intelligence version is entirely too trusting a bill. With its immunity, and with its wiretapping provisions, it has a simple answer to George Bush’s “trust me”: an all-too-eager “yes!”
I leave my colleagues with a simple question: Has that trust been earned?
I found it hilarious that Reid and others accused Dodd of “grandstanding” for his presidential campaign when he threatened the filibuster before. Hilarious because most Americans, sadly, couldn’t pick this issue out of a lineup consisting otherwise only of seletions of breakfast pastry. Hilarious because, yeah, if you want to boost your presidential campaign in Iowa, what you do is talk all day in the Senate. Hilarious because, given all that Dodd said in December, like hewasn’t gonna come back and fucking own this in January. He warned Reid then: Bring it back and back I’ll come and bring everybody with me.
There’s a few more days to salvage this thing, to at least convince enough people to make a stand. To convince Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that they need to get into town on Monday, walk into the Senate chamber, clap Chris Dodd on the shoulder and say, “Good job, man, and we’re here with you.” I know it’s a pipe dream, but what are we doing here, if not to call for the courage we dream of, so that it becomes reality?Ask them to stand up. You shouldn’t have to, and they might not, but ask them anyway. Ask them to lead. Ask them to stand. Ask them to have the courage of not just their convictions but their constituents.