Russ Feingold Stands Up Again
by Dave Lindorff | Sep 9 2006
Once again, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), has nailed it, doing exactly the right thing, acting in a courageous manner as a progressive politician should act.
It is clear to everyone in Congress that President Bush knows he's in deep political and legal trouble over his warrantless NSA spying program. It has been declared a violation of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence law passed by Congress in 1978, and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, by a federal judge in Detroit. His justification for breaking those laws--that he is the commander in chief in a so-called “war” on terror--was summarily slapped down and tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court in the course of its Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decision in June. And anyone who thinks honestly about why the president would have decided to violate the FISA law and avoid seeking warrants for the spy program from a group of secret, top-security-clearance-rated judges in a special FISA court that has only rejected four such requests in 28 years has to admit that Bush is clearly doing something outrageous (most likely spying on his political enemies in a replay of Nixon’s actions—the very crime that led Congress to pass FISA in the first place).
My own Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican who keeps playing at liberal to the home crowd in Pennsylvania but who has shown himself to be nothing but an enabler of Bush’s constitutional crime wave, held hearings on the NSA spying. He huffed and puffed a little about its being illegal, and then came up with a proposal that, if passed by Congress, would retroactively exonerate the president of his crime against the Constitution, while establishing a new shortcut to permit the warrantless spying to continue unabated, and unmonitored by either Congress or the FISA court.
It looked like this atrocity of Specter’s was going to pass into law, but Sen. Feingold, with the help of, not Democrats, but three Republican senators he rounded up who still respect the Bill of Rights and rule of law, managed to fend it off by way of a filibuster threat.
Feingold deserves all of our thanks for this move--so uncharacteristic of his feckless Democratic colleagues, who continue to cower at the thought of an attack by Karl Rove and his media minions.
The amazing thing is that when Feingold introduced a censure motion against Bush late last year, his approval rating among Democrats and among the general population soared--a clear indication that he has the political positions that American voters are looking for. It is likely that Feingold’s numbers will jump again as news of his latest action in the Senate spreads. And yet most Democrats in Congress still remain supine when it comes to standing up to the Bush administration.
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