Roll Call on FISA in HJC

Via email, here are the roll call votes against the Forbes amendment (favoring immunity for Telcos) and for the RESTORE legislation.


No: Conyers, Berman, Boucher, Nadler, Scott, Watt,Lofgren, Jackson Lee, Waters, Delahunt, Wexler, Sanchez, Cohen, Sutton,Sherman, Baldwin, Weiner, Schiff, Davis, Wasserman Schultz, Ellison

Yes: Smith, Sensenbrenner, Coble, Goodlatte, Lungren, Cannon, Keller, Pence, Forbes, King, Feeney, Franks, Gohmert, Jordan

Final Passage

Yes: Conyers, Berman, Boucher, Nadler, Scott, Watt, Lofgren, JacksonLee, Delahunt, Wexler, Sanchez, Cohen, Johnson, Sutton, Baldwin, Weiner, Schiff, Davis, Wasserman Schultz, Ellison

No: Smith, Sensenbrenner, Coble, Goodlatte, Chabot, Cannon, Keller, Pence, Forbes, King, Feeney, Franks, Gohmert, Jordan [my emphasis]

Just two details of note. First, Artur Davis voted with Democrats on both votes. Davis is the only Democrat on HJC who voted for the crappy August bill. And it appears, at least, that on the important issue of immunity, he will side with Democrats. Hopefully this suggests more of those Dems who voted for the Bush bill in August will exercise some judgment and restraint in this go-around.

Second, I’m curious about the Dan Lungren non-vote against RESTORE. In one of the FISA hearings, Lungren was vocal about the importance of sound minimization procedures. Perhaps someone finally told him that Mike McConnell was actually opposed to Read more

House Rules

The WaPo has more on the logic behind the refusal of the 13 Congressmen subpoenaed yesterday to testify.

As required by House rules, the subpoenas were read into theCongressional Record late Monday evening. John D. Filamor, assistantHouse counsel, wrote Geragos on Sept. 6 to object to the subpoenas,citing House rules that forbid members from testifying in judicialproceedings unless their testimony is "material and relevant."

Filamor also cited the "speech or debate" clause of the Constitution asa likely impediment to the testimony and to "many, if not all, of thedocuments" Geragos is seeking from a handful of lawmakers. That clauseprotects members from being tried criminally for legislative acts.

We have yet to see the subpoenas themselves, but the mention of documents here suggests that one of the documents Geragos is seeking is the report on the HPSCI’s involvement in approving Cunningham graft–and perhaps other documents that chronicle Congress’ addiction to earmarks.

I don’t think I adequately explained what I meant yesterday when I said Congressional subpoenas are the new graymail. Recall that the goal of graymail is not to actually win a trial. It is to force the government into deciding between actually holding the trial or dismissing the charges against the defendant.

The reason Read more

Congressional Subpoenas Are the New Graymail

The AP has the list of Congressmen whom Brent Wilkes has subpoenaed to appear at his trial. There are virtually no surprises on the list–all are either former or current Chairs of the Committees that knew of Wilkes’ behavior and/or noted earmarkers in their own right. Here’s why I think each person was subpoenaed.

Duncan Hunter, R-CA: Duncan Hunter was Chair of the Armed Services Committee when Duke Cunningham pulled off his scams. In fact, Hunter is the one who taught Cunningham how to earmark worthless programs to bring home pork for the district. He showed up on a list of people whose re-election had improved Mitch Wade’s position in Congress. And he’s on CREW’s list of 22 most corrupt Congressmen.

John Doolittle, R-CA: He shows up on a list of people whose re-election had improved Mitch Wade’s position in Congress. He’s on CREW’s list of 22 most corrupt Congressmen.

Jerry Lewis, R-CA: He shows up on a list of people whose re-election had improved Mitch Wade’s position in Congress. He’s on CREW’s list of 22 most corrupt Congressmen. Lewis Chaired Appropriations in the last Congress.

Roy Blunt, R-MO: Blunt has been very good at the same kind of revolving door earmarking as Cunningham.

Denny Read more

McConnell and Dick

There are two stories out today claiming Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, is really wearing the pants in the Executive Branch’s dealings with intelligence. The NYT has McConnell describing tremendous pressure from Congress, yet insisting he got no pressure from the White House.

In an interview in his office, Mr. McConnell insisted on Tuesday thathe never felt direct pressure from the White House to reject theDemocratic proposal, and that contrary to statements from seniorDemocrats he had never given a verbal commitment to their plan.


“My job is to speak truth to power,” he said.

And the LAT has McConnell’s spokesperson claiming the same:

A spokesman for McConnell rejected assertions that he had changed hisposition or been used for political purposes by the White House. "TheWhite House did not play any part in rejecting that bill," said RossFeinstein, a McConnell spokesman. McConnell "made his own decisions. Hewas clear all along on what he needed in the bill."

In handlingthose negotiations, McConnell was thrust into a delicate position. Bytradition, the nation’s top intelligence official is supposed to beinsulated from political pressure or from debates over policy. But atthe same time, the director is appointed by the president and serves ashis top intelligence aide.

"He is the president’s seniorintelligence advisor, not Congress’ senior intelligence advisor," saidMark Lowenthal, a former top CIA official and intelligence historian.But, he added, "I don’t think McConnell would ever allow himself to beput in the position of doing the bidding of the White House. It’s justnot who the guy is."

Both stories contradict the stories TPMM and others were getting from during the negotiations.

Given the contradiction, I couldn’t help but remember the reports from negotiations on Bush’s recent Executive Order on torture (including one from Mark Mazzetti, the author of today’s NYT piece).

Why Are Pete Hoekstra's Knickers in a Twist?

Laura Rozen has been cataloging the back and forth between Jane Harman and Pete Hoekstra. First, Jane Harman unilaterally released the executive summary of the report on how Duke Cunningham executed his graft (a fair response, I think, to all the clear propaganda they’ve got Fred Fleitz churning out over there). Then, Pete Hoekstra got wee bit upset with her for having done so.

Today the committee’s Ranking Member, Jane Harman, unilaterally andwithout the consent and authority of the full committee, released aninterim, internal report by the committee’s independent counsel intothe actions of former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Cunningham’s actions to enrich himself as a Member of Congress arereprehensible, but it is reassuring that the committee’s independentcounsel has found no instances of wrongdoing on the part of othercommittee Members or the committee’s staff.

That said, the unilateral decision by Harman to break ourbipartisan, written agreement to review the Cunningham matter byreleasing an incomplete, internal committee document that has not beenreviewed by the other committee Members is disturbing and beyond thepale.

Beyond the pale!! Those are fighting words. But then, when you read the report, it’s not clear what Hoekstra is so upset about.

Why Are They Afraid of a Living Wage, Clean Air, and Free Speech?

Well, the Republicans have launched their long-planned attack on the Representatives who will be Committee Chairs when we take back Congress. It will get nastier than this–the WSJ hides, at least, the degree to which this fear campaign depends on race-baiting and gay-baiting. But let’s look at some of the things they fear:

Energyand Commerce would return to the untender mercies of John Dingell, thelongest-serving Member first elected in 1955, who was a selectivescourge of business when he ran the committee before 1994. The MichiganCongressman would do his best to provide taxpayer help to GM and Ford.But telecom companies would probably get more regulation in the form ofNet neutrality rules, and a windfall profits tax on oil would be a realpossibility.

Hmm. Provide help to GM and Ford? Even Republican candidate for governor in MI, Dick "Amway" DeVos, is trying to force Bush to help out the automobile companies. Not a bad idea, you know, to try to preserve hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs.

But look what they don’t mention about John Dingell’s legacy. Dingell is known for several things–the Clean Air Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Medicare Program that works (unlike the  donut hole monstrosity invented by Bush’s donors)–all programs with solid support around the country.

And they’ve thrown in Net Neutrality, pretending that Dingell’s support for Net Neutrality, which simply preserves the state of Free Speech on the Internet, is something to be feared. Why is the WSJ, a media outlet, campaigning against Free Speech. (Hint–the dead tree media aren’t doing so well with real competition. I guess the WSJ’s support for competition only extends to other publicly traded companies?) So just with John Dingell, the WSJ wants you to be afraid of Clean Air, adequate medical care for children and seniors, and Free Speech. Whew, I’m quivering from fear.

Can You Hear Me NOW?

The NYT’s blockbuster story on Brent Wilkes is most interesting, IMO, for the delicate dance of threat and technical legal denial it portrays. Wilkes leaves little doubt as to why he agreed to the interview.

Ms. Luque said her client’s legal problems were a battle that he “will fight and win.”

Shesaid federal prosecutors told her in January that they were notinterested in Mr. Wilkes’s dealings with Mr. Lowery and Mr. Lewis.“Cunningham couldn’t have followed through on what he did without thecooperation of other people on the committee,” Ms. Luque said.Prosecutors should be looking at the entire committee, she said.

And notice that Ms. Luque doesn’t even say that Wilkes plans to "fight and win" this in the courts. Heck, she doesn’t even say who this is a battle against, the law or Wilkes’ former associates, Lowery and Lewis. Meanwhile, Wilkes claims he believes Lowery and Lewis haven’t broken the law. But then he describes Lowery making threats that reveal a clear quid pro quo.

DeLay's Dilemma

Let’s say you’re Tom DeLay. It’s February 2006, and your legal defense fund is beginning to run dry.Well, not just run dry. It’s already running a deficit. You’re already polling behind your Democratic opponent in the polls, and you haven’t even won the primary yet. Thing is, you consider the three people running against you disloyal. Fuck ’em. Who are they to accuse the Hammer of corruption? So you stay in the race just to prevent one of them from benefiting from the misfortune of Tom DeLay. No problem. You can whup their asses in the primary and just deal with getting a candidate later.

Fast forward to Summer 2006. At this point, you’ve got $1.4 million in your campaign fund, with $1 million in unpaid legal bills. With lots more legal bills to come. And your Democratic opponent has $2 million in his campaign chest. You know you’re not going to win your seat. In fact, all your colleagues want you out, ASAP, because you’re making them look like crooks. And frankly, with the Legal Defense Fund donations slowing down, it’s beginning to look like you’ll need to use all of your campaign funds to pay the lawyers. And shit, they haven’t even gotten Buckham yet. There’s a while ‘nother legal case on the Abramoff charges, that’s coming down the pike.

So you just ask the head of the TX GOP party to declare you ineligible. Tell them I’m from VA, now. Those Democrats won’t do anything about it. They’re a bunch of pansies. Right?

Lamont's "Single Issue" Voters

The Q-Poll shows that 44% of Lamont’s supporters support him mainly because of Lieberman’s stance on the Iraq war. And Markos anticipates a bunch of pundits frowning on the large number of "Single Issue" voters.

For a pundit to suggest the Iraq war is a "Single Issue" simply betrays their ignorance of the impact that war has and will continue to have on this country and the rest of the world.

Some are opposed to the war because they’re opposed to 2,500 Americans dead, 18,000 Americans wounded, perhaps 100,000 Iraqis dead, untold wounded. Some oppose the war simply because it uses violence to solve problems that should be solved using other means.

Some are opposed to the war because it has ruined our military. Two-thirds of our active army and three-quarters of our National Guard face readiness problems because it needs to replace equipment used in Iraq. Extended deployments and lowered recruiting standards are having bad effects on the military, their families, and our mission. The Iraq war–sold as a way to make our country safer–has only exposed it defensively.

Some are opposed to the war because it has thoroughly destabilized Iraq, and threatens to destabilize the entire region. By almost every standard, Iraqi quality of life is worse today than it was under Saddam.

Some are opposed to the war because it has created precisely the problem that it was cynically sold as a way to prevent. Iraq is creating terrorists, at a time when the threat of terrorism remains very real.

Some are opposed to the war because it has turned us into an international pariah. Some countries no longer trust us. Others want nothing to do with our aggressive ways.