Feingold Slaps Down Bond’s, Mukasey’s, and McConnell’s “Tired Accusations”

Senator Feingold noticed the same thing I noticed today: Republican opponents of his amendments are mischaracterizing his amendments.

[Bond] referred to our concerns that somehow the rights and privacy could be affected by this bill as "tired accusations." I object to that characterization. I think that this is clearly the kind of thing we should be worried about and debating, but I’ll tell you what is a "tired accusation"–the notion that somehow our amendment would affect the ability of the government to listen in on Osama bin Laden–that is a tired and false accusation. The Senator from Missouri said that if Osama bin Laden or his number three man–whoever that is today, after the last number three man in al Qaeda was just wiped out–calls somebody in the United States, we can’t listen in on that communication unless we have an independent means of verifying that it has some impact on threats to our security from a terrorist threat. That’s what he claims. That’s what he claims, that we wouldn’t be able to listen in on that kind of conversation. That is absolutely false.

This amendment, the Feingold Webb Tester amendment specifically does not require a FISA court warrant to acquire or disseminate the communications of any foreigner overseas who is suspected of terrorism. Now Mr. President, there is no separate threat requirement. The amendment merely requires that the government label terrorism-related communications that have one end in the US so they are traceable for oversight. And it simply requires that when the government accesses and disseminates terrorism-related communications that it has already acquired–it has already acquired it–that the court just be informed with a brief certification. So I don’t know where the Senator gets idea, really bizarre idea, that somehow you can’t listen in on conversation of Osama bin Laden. And I don’t think it’s credible to anybody that that would be the case.

Finally, he raises the concern that somehow we’re insulting the FISA court, saying that they’re not doing a good job? Now, what we’re trying to give them is the power to enforce their will. We’re trying to give them the ability to say, "hey wait a minute, you guys aren’t doing what you said you were going to do." That’s all. That’s not an insult to the court. That’s essential for the court to be able to do its job. Let’s worry less about the alleged, and I think falsely [scarequotes] feelings of a secret court and worry more about the rights and privacy of perfectly innocent Americans.

After slapping down Kit Bond’s "tired accusations" Feingold goes on to take on the "tired accusations" of Michael Mukasey and Mike McConnell–many of the same ones that I point out here.

You know, the fact that the Bush Administration already got caught illegally wiretapping Americans already makes their claims suspect. But when they and their surrogates in the Senate misrepresent their program so badly, it really makes you wonder what they’re up to.

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50 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      Saw that. Who was missing, do you know? And who were the R’s that flipped? I heard the following:

      Collins
      Coleman
      Domenici
      Smith

      Looks like the Rs in moderate states with re-election battles flipped.

  1. IMbobo says:

    it really makes you wonder what they’re up to.

    What are they up to? Why do they want the US government to have an unchecked power to spy on American citizens, to the point that they’re willing to simply LIE to get it? Especially given the strong possibility that the government in question won’t be in their party’s hands a year from now?

    The only explanations I can come up with are purely political. They don’t want Democrats to have any meaningful power in shaping policy. They don’t want Democrats to be seen as effective.

    And they don’t care what price the rest of us pay for it.

    • RevDeb says:

      That presumes that they won’t use their illegal bag of tricks to stop or derail or steal another election. At this point in time, I would put NOTHING past them. They have no souls, lost them long ago.

      I wonder what the going price of a soul is these days.

    • phred says:

      What are they up to?

      I think what the Dem leadership is up to is protecting Reid and Pelosi specifically. Bond as much told us so when he reminded everyone today that the committees were notified, specifically the Gang of 8. Reid and Pelosi were members of the Gang of 8. He said it out loud in case any uppity Senate Majority Leaders were getting ideas of a mutiny.

  2. wkwf says:

    “But when they and their surrogates in the Senate misrepresent their program so badly, it really makes you wonder what they’re up to.”

    It also makes you wonder how much of their senatorial surrogates’ (that would make a good name for a rock band, methinks) behavior is dictated by their desire to cling to Bush (or reject anything suggested by the Democrats) and how much of it is based on them realizing that they have also potentially been spied on since before 9/11 and they probably know what kind of information could come to light if they didn’t fall in line. Certainly makes me wonder all the time – you shouldn’t hope to be able to take a stand against this admin unless your hands and pockets are completely clean.

    • cboldt says:

      has any votes on FISA amendments occured?

      One vote. Cardin’s 4 year sunset amendment was rejected.

      Cardin 3930, an approximate 4 year sunset for the procedure to obtain new orders (Dec 31, 2011) was
      REJECTED Feb 6, 2008 at 15:42, on a 49-46 vote

        • phred says:

          Mahalo CTuttle! It really is a shame you missed the festivities today… Inouye cast his 15,000th roll call vote and the Senate just stopped in its tracks to recreate an episode of This Is Your Life. It was really something.

          • bobschacht says:

            “Inouye cast his 15,000th roll call vote and the Senate just stopped in its tracks to recreate an episode of This Is Your Life. It was really something.”

            Thanks, phred. I missed it, too, but heard the echos.

            Bob in HI

            • phred says:

              Hi Bob : ) It’s a shame you missed it, it was really odd. I have nothing against Inouye and wish him the very best, but it was the way that things just stopped in mid-stream. At first, it sounded for all the world as if the man had died, with the way Reid started praising him. The Senate is a peculiar place : ) Congrats to your Senator all the same.

  3. selise says:

    it really irks me to see feingold have to be on the senate floor by himself to defend the most reasonable of amendments.

    yes, feingold is probably the best spokesman we have… but just think of the attention that would be brought on the issue if clinton and obama were to show up and work together to defeat the senate bill.

    now that’s the kind of bipartisanship i could get behind. that is doesn’t happen, imo, says a lot about our candidates.

  4. cboldt says:

    And McCain was the only one not voting

    Check this out, by Reid yesterday, goading McCain to vote for cloture …

    The final paragraph of the [LA Times] editorial is as follows:

    McCain has made much during the campaign about his determination to combat global warming. If he’s the man of conviction he claims to be, he should return to Washington and back the Baucus bill.

    That was the Los Angeles Times.

    Mr. President, now the Arizona Republic, which is a very conservative publication. That is an understatement. But here is what they said:

    The economic stimulus package from Congress needs some power. Renewable power. The plan should include an extension of tax credits for renewable-energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal.

  5. JimWhite says:

    Durbin up. No announcement on tomorrow other than time for Harry to talk. Hmmm, still no agreement on a path forward for econ stimulus or FISA.

    • Stephen Parrish says:

      MSNBC/Associated Press headline: GOP senators block alternative stimulus plan

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23027685

      WASHINGTON – The fate of $600-$1,200 rebate checks for more than 100 million Americans is in limbo after Senate Democrats failed Wednesday to add $44 billion in help for the elderly, disabled veterans, the unemployed and big business to the House-passed economic aid package.

      (snip)

  6. phred says:

    cboldt — I have a quick question about the timing issue you were discussing earlier on the liveblog thread. If the House runs out of time to properly rectify the two versions of the bills, is there any reason the House and Senate couldn’t pass another extension (aside from Rethug obstruction of course), but in principle, there is no reason they couldn’t do it, is there?

    I just want to make sure we can hang this albatross right around Reid and Pelosi’s neck, no matter what sort of nonsense they try to use to claim that there was nothing they could do.

  7. cboldt says:

    If the House runs out of time to properly rectify the two versions of the bills, is there any reason the House and Senate couldn’t pass another extension

    None whatsoever. This time deadline is a creation of the executive, unlike last August when the Congress was working against its own vacation plans. If the House (or Congress as whole) wants/needs more time, it can pass another extension, and put that in President Bush’s lap.

  8. merkwurdiglieber says:

    The real value of the program to the Republicans is domestic political
    intelligence and opposition research like Rove has done with US Attys
    in many states. Bond even mentions potential vendetta against Telcoms
    as reason to immunize them. You have to give Feingold his due for trying,
    this bill that Rockefeller stuck us with should cost him his chair on
    that committee.

      • PetePierce says:

        Chair? It should cost him his seat in the Senate. When is he up and who’s running against him?

        He’s up this November

        I have no idea about his opposition or the dynamics of that election, but I’m sure Christy Smith has a handle on it.

        I listened to Rockerfeller on my DVR of the Senate today–and found his rhetoric to be the same tired shallow false characterizations as Bond, Chamblis and Sessions used.

        Their script has to be coming from some legislative liason office at Mukasey DOJ. It’s all the same; it’s banal, and it none of it is accurate.

  9. Mary says:

    but just think of the attention that would be brought on the issue if clinton and obama were to show up and work together to defeat the senate bill

    It’s why I’m not too excited about anyone likely to end up on tickets this year.

    They don’t care.

    • bmaz says:

      Interesting article. One thing is for sure, however many warrants they applied for to inject the CIPAV, it has been so used far, far more often than that.

  10. MadDog says:

    Just in case EW needs a jolt to get started this morning, check Laura Rozen’s catch about the Torture Tapes:

    The lead prosecutor in the terrorism case against Zacarias Moussaoui likely knew the CIA destroyed tapes of its interrogations of al-Qaida suspects more than a year before the government admitted it to the court, newly unsealed documents show.

    • nomolos says:

      They don’e care. They will lie as long as they can as they know full well that the Dems are not going to do a damn thing about it. Where is the incentive for telling the truth when by lying you get all kinds of bennies from the gummint like healthcare for ever and double dip pensions.

  11. MadDog says:

    From Froomkin:

    Walter Pincus writes in The Washington Post: “After the hearing, Hayden told reporters that the information obtained from those detainees amounted to a quarter of all the human intelligence the CIA gained about the terrorist organization between 2002 and 2006.

    “‘We would not have done it if it were not that valuable,’ Hayden said.”

    Mikey always seems to get his logic backwards:

    1. We tortured these folks first.
    2. Then got intel from them.

    So, how did Mikey know before torturing them, that he’d get valuable intel?

    He didn’t, he couldn’t, so it appears Mikey is lying, again!

    • skdadl says:

      a quarter of all the human intelligence the CIA gained

      That little detail fascinated me, too. How does he measure that “quarter”? How is that done? I’m trying to imagine how they weigh up or measure out all the intel they get. Either that, or I’m suspecting he just made that up. Figures always sound good, I guess.

  12. radiofreewill says:

    To me, at least, Hayden has come to symbolize the “Conflict of Legitimacy” Faced by All of the military-style, chain-of-command People inside BushCo – Until Bush’s “Un-checked and Un-balanced Authority” is stricken-down by Congress and/or the Courts, until then, Our men and women in uniform, like Hayden, are going to feel “obligated” to Salute and Follow Orders.

    Before they invoke the Nuremburg Defense, they Follow Orders.

    No matter how conflicted these folks may be – Torture, Spying on Citizens Based on Suspicion, Destroying Evidence, Carpet Bombing a Neighborhood, Leaking Classified Information, etc – no matter how conflicted they may be, as long as Bush is “vested” with the “Moral Authority” he grabbed when he Crowned himself UE, they will “Do as They are Told.”

    And, for the parts that even the Military won’t do – Bush will use Contractors – Depravity can be Bought.

    There’s a Monster in the White House, but Our Representatives in Congress and Our Institutions of the Law are Too Afraid to Challenge His Claim to Legitimacy.

    In the face of such Weakness, We should Expect the Boots to Keep Marching…on US.

  13. Sedgequill says:

    I’d wondered the same thing. Word count during waterboarding, maybe? I can’t think of a valid means of measurement.

  14. Sedgequill says:

    Were fear and anti-Islamic prejudice to diminish enough, or were the majority of the public and the majority of their legislators to grow tired and exasperated from hearing dubious and flagrantly false accounts of what’s being done and why, the Bush administration would have a hard time locking in the programs they want, so the press is on.

  15. acerigger says:

    we tend to lose sight of the fact that the “government” intends to have all of us under it’s control! that’s why dems are bowing to repugs on the issues of “our” constitutional rights.they don’t intend to rule a country, they intend to rule a society.

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