Friday, October 19, 2007

Sen. Dodd Blocks FISA Bill, Skewers The Lies, Sets Example For Defunding & Ending Iraq Occupation

Let's hear a big round of applause for Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT).

President Dodd?

Speaker Pelosi? It is time to stop funding and put an end to George Bush's occupation of Iraq and get all the troops there home. Now. You have exhausted all your excuses, and all of them have just been shown up to be nothing more than the hot air they are. If you will not end it before November 2008, after Chris Dodd's clear example yesterday of real, honest legislative leadership, you deserve to be unseated and sent home in disgrace.

Dodd issued a press release yesterday stating

...that he would block the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) "from being considered by the full Senate and from receiving a vote on the Senate floor." The statement came as the Senate Intelligence Committee met to consider the legislation -- and weeks before it is likely to reach the floor.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of Senators and the Bush administration reached a compromise on the politically charged bill, which governs the federal government's domestic surveillance program, including a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies. Civil libertarians oppose the compromise as going too far to protect telecoms that were revealed to have participated in a warrantless wiretapping program, and because the legislation wouldn't establish warrants for each individual wiretap.

Dodd said he would place a "hold" on the FISA bill, a device available to any senator to stop legislation from moving forward. "By granting immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the president's terrorist surveillance program, even though such participation may have been illegal, the FISA reform bill sets a dangerous precedent by giving the President sweeping authorization to neglect the right to privacy that Americans are entitled to under the Constitution," Dodd explained in a statement outlining his concerns.

The rhetoric got hotter with every paragraph. "It is unconscionable that such a basic right has been violated, and that the president is the perpetrator," Dodd said. "I will do everything in my power to stop Congress from shielding this President's agenda of secrecy, deception, and blatant unlawfulness."
Chris Dodd deserves to be elected President next year.

He has just blown out of the water all of the claims by Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Leadership that they are unable to defund and end the occupation of Iraq with the claims that they 'don't have the votes', and set a clear, effective example of the "power of the purse" that Pelosi now has no excuse not to follow.

David Swanson explains in greater detail on the flip.

Dodd Ends Spying, No Senator Will Do Same for War
By David Swanson. After Downing Street, Thursday, October 18, 2007
Senator Chris Dodd on Thursday single-handedly blocked a bill to legalize unconstitutional spying and immunize criminals who have engaged in it. But by doing so, Dodd may have made the biggest blunder Washington has seen in many months. He advertised the fact that a single senator with nerve has the power to block a bill, including – of course – every bill to further fund the occupation of Iraq. Now, how will Dodd explain his past and future failure to use the same power to end the war that he has used to end warrantless spying? How will other senators, including Harry Reid, explain their own failure? How will Nancy Pelosi manage to keep asserting in every conversation that only 67 senators can end a war?

Dodd released the following statement:
It's been a busy day, but I wanted take a moment and let you know that I have decided to place a "hold" on legislation in the Senate that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.

I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.

It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution.

But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document.

That's why I am stopping this bill today.
But blocking a bill, not passing one, is exactly what's needed to get our troops and mercenaries home from Iraq. It is a lie that Congress must pass a bill to end the occupation of Iraq. The occupation can be ended with an announcement by Congressional leaders that there will be no more funding. Any proposal to fund it can be blocked by 41 senators filibustering or by a single senator putting a hold on the bill. Bush has plenty of money for withdrawal and could be given more for that exclusive purpose. When your television tells you the Democrats need 60 or 67 senators to end the occupation, your television is lying to you.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could if they wanted announce today that the House and Senate will no longer bring to a vote any bills to fund anything other than withdrawal. They have many colleagues already on board with that position, not to mention two thirds of the country. It would take 218 signatures on a discharge petition to force a bill to the floor of the House without Pelosi's approval. It is unlikely enough Democrats would oppose their party to fund Bush's war in that way. In the Senate, Reid alone could refuse to bring a bill to the floor, or another senator could put an open or secret hold on a bill. And, while not all bills can be filibustered (appropriations bills can be, budget reconciliation bills cannot), you can hardly claim you need 60 votes to get past a filibuster without admitting that with only 41 you could launch your own filibuster and that with 51 you could defeat any bill. Once you understand the goal as blocking bills rather than passing them, the number of allies you need shrinks dramatically.

In fact, Senator Dodd has just very publicly advertised his ability to take action on Iraq in January, thereby earning the right to be president. This would be a major shift from his current proposal that we elect him president first, after which he'll see about ending the war.

Thank Dodd and urge others to join him in blocking the FISA bill here: