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Feingold and censure of Dear Leader

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) has a DKos diary up explaining his call for censure.

Serious questions remain about certain provisions in the Patriot Act that threaten the privacy of innocent Americans, and about the basis for the claims the administration made in leading us into the Iraq war. In both of those instances, Congress gave its approval to the President’s actions, however mistaken that approval may have been.

That was not the case with the illegal domestic wiretapping program authorized by the President shortly after September 11th. The President violated the law, ignored the Constitution and two branches of government, and disregarded the rights and freedoms upon which our country was founded. No one questions whether the government should wiretap terrorists — of course we should, and we can under current law. But the President is refusing to follow that law, which includes safeguards to protect innocent Americans, and instead he’s making up his own law. It’s time that he is held accountable for breaking the law.

Congress may consider a range of other actions, including investigations, an independent counsel, or even impeachment. But at a minimum, and as a first step, Congress should censure a president who has so plainly broken the law.

Today I will introduce a Senate resolution censuring the President.

The facts and the case for censure are clear. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, makes it a crime to wiretap American citizens without a court warrant – which is what the President has admitted doing. Before the program was revealed, he also misled Congress and the American people about the wiretapping that was being done. For example, at a 2004 speech in Buffalo, he said, “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires, a wiretap requires a court order.” And at a 2004 speech in my home state of Wisconsin, he said that “the government can’t move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order.”

When the domestic spying story first broke, the President went from saying he wouldn’t be able to talk about it, to suggesting there was no other way to wiretap terrorists, to implying that the FISA law is out of date. He went on to claim that sweeping inherent powers of the presidency or the authorization of force back in 2001 gave him such authority — neither of which is legally or factually correct. While the President has cherry-picked information before, he cannot do the same with the laws of our land.

Censuring the President is not something that should be taken lightly. But the President has BROKEN the law and there needs to be action and accountability.

It makes you feel pretty damn useless when you get a call like this from ReddHedd at Firedoglake to canvas your senators to see where they stand on censure.

I have a request: Russ Feingold really stuck his neck out today, and it would be great if he — and every other Senator — knew that we had his back. It’s a gutsy move, not without risk in the polarized environment that is Washington these days and with the hatchet squad that Rove and his ilk generally deploy when their actions are questioned, so you have to hand it to Sen. Feingold for having the guts to raise the censure issue — not just in the privacy of his office or at home, but right there on national television for all the world to hear.

So, what am I asking you to do? Something small by comparison, but if enough of us do this, it could start a little snowball rolling down the hill. By the time it reaches bottom, who knows how big it will have gotten — but I sure like the sound of the word avalanche, so I say we get it going.

Your action steps: call both your Senators first thing in the morning and ask if they support Russ Feingold’s censure proposal. If they don’t, ask what their position is on the issue — and why.

Well, for Tar Heels, we’re always screwed on these action items. We’ve got the empty suit Richard Burr, and the Empty Wig, Elizabeth Dole, with the latter so far up the Chimp’s rear she can see daylight out of his pie hole.

However, anyone with reasonable representation in the Senate, you can contact them here and get them on the record regarding Feingold’s brave initiative.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding