Censure Hearing, Part III
The hearing is concluded today. The entire hearing will be re-aired this evening beginning at 8:50 ET, according to C-Span.
C-Span played the opening statements that were omitted earlier. Here’s the blog of those in their entirety.
SPECTER OPENING: Important hearing because it addresses the struggle between inherent Presidential authority and Congress’s checks and balances, the questions addressed by the Youngstown case and the Fourth Amendment. Spends time griping that media didn’t cover FISA judge testimony adequately – and that this was a shame, given the rarity of this type of testimony and its value for the public debate. (RH: Completely agree with this.) Discusses uniform warrant requirement issue based on case law. Discusses the conflict between inherent authority and statutory legalities via Congress and the attempt at checks and balances. Then discusses his own proposed legislation – says President didn’t ignore the torture vote (RH: But Specter doesn’t mention the signing statement that the President issued that gutted the torture legislation oversight provisions.)
LEAHY OPENING: Leahy does bring up the signing statement – President says to Congress you may have passed a law, but I don’t intend to follow it. Leahy commends Specter for actually having hearings, which is something that the Republican-controlled Congress has not been doing. (RH: Yay, Leahy!) Hits Gonzales for not being forthcoming with regard to secret programs that he acknowledges exists so that Congress can provide appropriate oversight. First, Administration said that this President is above the law during the undefined war on terror. Second, they asserted the AUMF – which gave them authority to go after Osama Bin Laden, and they gave up on that – makes no reference to wiretaps. This is Alice in Wonderland gone amok. This is not what we in Congress said, and certainly not what we in Congress intended. Attempts at oversight have been stonewalled by this Administration and Republican controlled Congress has not pushed. We know that the Administration’s justifications have been flimsy – Leahy condemns President for systematically violating the laws of the United States. History will record how the republican controlled Congress has failed in its duties. Leahy says that he is inclined to agree that censure is an appropriate remedy for the President’s violation of law. The President may have been given bad legal advice, but that does not excuse violation of the law. "We are not a member of men or kings, we are a nation of laws." (Quoting Graham’s statement as an impeachment manager. RH: ha!) Did the President knowingly choose to flout the law when he chose to spy on the American people without a warrant? We know that the President broke the law, now we need to know why. (RH: great opening by Leahy, who clearly had his Wheaties this morning.)
FEINGOLD OPENING: Thanks Specter for having this hearing, says that this is a serious matter. Wishes Leahy a happy birthday, and thanks him for his eloquent opening statement. Welcomes the witnesses. Says he waited three months after the start of these hearings and briefings before he decided that censure was an appropriate remedy. Says that he and Specter agree on many things. We agree that FISA is appropriate oversight. That the AUMF did not give President authority to violate the laws and requirements. Where we disagree is whether inherent authority under Article II gives President authority to violate FISA – but the fact that Specter has proposed legislation undermines the inherent authority argument. And the fact that the President isn’t following the law anyway, means that any legislation we pass won’t be worth a hill of beans. Why are people scrambling to enact legislation to legalize what the President is doing – when we really have no idea what he is doing. We no longer have a system of government with three, separate co-equal branches of government – we have a monarchy. If we in Congress do not stand up for the Constitution and our nation of laws, we are complicit in the lawbreaking. Dean being here should serve as a reminder. We must look to our history, to the accountability that a former President was held over 30 years ago. This is a grave challenge to our Constitutional history.