Only Remaining Senator Personally Targeted by Terrorist Attack Still Believes in Constitution

The Senate just voted down cloture on the USA Freedom Act, 58-42. Even while we disagreed on the bill, I extend sincere condolences to civil liberties allies who worked hard to pass this in good faith. I know you all have worked hard in good faith to pass something viable.

Several things about the vote were predictable (in fact, I predicted them in June). Just as one example, I noted to allies that if Jeff Flake — who had a great record on civil liberties while he was still in the House — did not support the effort, it would fail. Four Senators — cosponsors Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Dean Heller, plus Lisa Murkowski voted for cloture; Rand Paul did not. Bill Nelson voted against cloture as well (there are reports he is claiming it was a mistake, but given how closely this bill was whipped that would be … telling).

Equally predictable was the fear-mongering. GOP Senator after GOP Senator got up and insisted if the phone dragnet ended, ISIL would attack the country. None noted, of course, that the phone dragnet had never succeeded in preventing a terrorist attack. Pat Leahy made that point but it’s one opponents of the dragnet need to make in more concerted fashion.

Then there was a piece of news that neither side — supporter or opponent — seemed to want to mention. Dianne Feinstein revealed that at first 2 of 4 providers (presumably the fourth is T-Mobile though it could even be Microsoft, given that Skype is a more important phone carrier for international traffic) had refused to keep phone records, but that they had voluntarily agreed to do so for a full two years (this is at least a 6 month extension for Verizon, though may be significantly longer for cell calls).

The most dramatic part of the debate came after everyone left, when a frustrated Pat Leahy made the case for defending the Constitution. He recalled the anthrax letter addressed to him, on September 18, 2001, that killed a postal worker who processed it (another letter killed a Tom Daschle aide see Meryl Nass’ correction). “13 years ago this week, a letter was sent to me, addressed to me. It was so deadly, with the antrax in it that one person who touched the envelope–addressed to me, that I was supposed to open–They died!” Leahy reminded that the FBI had still not caught all the culprits for the attack. (That he believes that was first reported here in 2008; I believe FBI has, in fact, caught none of the culprits.) That attack targeting him personally, Leahy noted, did not convince him he had to abrogate the Constitution. “This nation should not let our liberties to be set aside by passing fears.” Leahy said. “If we do not protect our Constitution we do not deserve to be in this body.”

Senators like Marco Rubio got up and screamed about terrorists. But unless I’m mistaken, Pat Leahy is the only one remaining in the Senate who was personally targeted by a terrorist.

Maybe we ought to highlight that point?

Updated w/additions from Leahy’s comments.

16 replies
    • P J Evans says:

      You’re getting that one also? I would think C-Span would be safe, but clearly their security isn’t up to current browser standards. uses an invalid security certificate.
      The certificate is only valid for the following names:, *
      (Error code: ssl_error_bad_cert_domain)

      • wallace says:

        quote’You’re getting that one also? I would think C-Span would be safe, but clearly their security isn’t up to current browser standards.”unquote

        I started getting those notices last week on every single site I visited. I immediately did some research and found out something in the latest Firefox update seems to cause the Clock module in Windows to revert back in time. I can’t find the link now, but as soon as I synched my computer TIME to an Internet Time server, those notices went away.

        Have you checked your TIME module? Mine had reverted back to 2007. While this may not be a reason you get those notices, I didn’t get it when I clicked on the link. I connected to CSPAN. So you might check it.

  1. Teddy says:

    Well, Dianne Feinstein certainly *acts* as if she’s been targeted by terrorists, at least when you try to visit her SF office through the twisted layers of security they’ve put in place, even when she’s not there. So there’s that.

  2. GKJames says:

    Help. What explains the Republicans’ position on this? Pure politics (1), i.e., we need to recover our mojo on national security regardless of the inane utterances required to do so? Pure politics (2), we’re taking advantage by scaring the crap out of the public so that it’ll us as its protector? Or is it deep-seated conviction as in, we really are afraid and, consequently, are prepared to sacrifice the very liberty we normally whine about ad nauseam? It’s an enduring mystery to me how these guys think.

  3. phred says:

    “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
    He chortled in his joy.”
    I am incapable of feeling the slightest dismay at the failure of this pitiful excuse for “reform”. The fact that I have bedwetting Republicans to thank for this outcome however, makes me sick.
    If our miserable Congress wants to dispense with the bill of rights that they find so inconvenient to their rapacious grifting, perhaps they can bestir themselves to amend the constitution. The fact that they don’t suggests they know the public does not share their contempt for the rule of law. If only we had a judiciary to keep them in check…

  4. TarheelDem says:

    Can Leahy’s comments be rescued from the memory hole?

    Was the death of Daschle aide hushed up at the time?

    • prostratedragon says:

      It was very slow, but eventually rendered for me even without javascript, which I allow only case-by-case.

  5. Meryl Nass says:

    No one who worked in any Congressional office died from anthrax. The five deaths included 2 DC postal workers,one AMI photo editor, and two women from CT and NYC.

Comments are closed.