FYI:  Discussion of the FISA bill (S.2248) has begun in the Senate this morning and is being broadcast live on C-Span2.  I’ll be updating as I can on this throughout the morning, and following the proceedings closely.  At the moment, Mitch McConnell is speaking — and, apparently, the "Democrats are trying to unpatriotically steal your money" meme is alive and well inside the Beltway.  Do these people never get new material?!?  Here’s a thought Mitch:  America is watching, and your willingness to give away the Constitution in subservience to an imperial presidency is duly noted.  Rockefeller is up next mainly talking process, and according to the order as read, Dodd will be given a chunk of time to control as opposition to the SIC bill.  Here we go…


In this nation of ours, our elected leadership is only as good — or as bad — as the American public allows them to get away with being.  Thomas Jefferson said it best here:

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.
– Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781

The power for change rests in our hands alone. The Constitution and the rule of law are not just arcane concepts that lawyers throw around for billing purposes. They are, in fact, bedrock principles that we allow to be ignored at our peril.

Congressional Quarterly has an updated article on the ins and outs and various currents of influence involved in the FISA legislation, including some updates on potential amendments that may be offered today.  And Glenn has some information about the superhero powers of the "hold," except when it is placed on legislation by Chris Dodd apparently.

As you can see from the video, Sen. Chris Dodd fundamentally understands that the rule of law and patriotism are things that go hand in hand.  And he’s willing to put action and leadership where his values are.  As do Senators Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy who have agreed to aide in the filibuster today and are to be applauded for it.  Sen. Feingold has an article at TPMCafe this morning detailing why this fight is so important.  As is Rep. John Conyers who sent out a note of support for Sen. Dodd’s efforts yesterday.  

I would hope that every Senator who was a signatory to the letter to Harry Reid urging that the SJC version of the FISA bill be the base bill would stand in support of Dodd’s filibuster efforts:

Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Barack Obama (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Joe Biden (D-DE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Jim Webb (D-VA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

As the day progresses, we’ll see which other Senators stand up for American values…and which ones stand only for themselves. I know I’ll be watching. 

Reader JimWhite distilled the FISA battle against retroactive telecom immunity very well yesterday, and I wanted to be certain everyone saw this:

Thank you Senator Dodd for your patriotic service to our country.

I see this FISA battle you are waging as a clarion cry for our country to return to the rule of law. I am not asking that the government abandon surveillance. I am only asking that the government abide by reasonable laws and allow appropriate levels of independent oversight so that we the people can be assured that the powers which we vest in our intelligence community are used for the purposes for which they have been designated. Please make it clear to anyone listening tomorrow that the Senate Judiciary Committee version and House version of the FISA renewal do not weaken our surveillance capability in any way but instead improve the Constitutionally mandated oversight function which has been missing.

Without law, we have no government.

For every elected leader out there let me just say this: actions speak far louder than words, and we will be watching what you do today…and what you do not do. So think carefully before you try a dodge and phony show of support without actually providing any support on this filibuster. That goes for procedural manipulations as well. We have long memories…and we have learned a lot about primary challenges that we are willing to put to good use.

You take an oath to uphold and support the Constitution of the United States and the laws of this nation.  Isn’t it time you did everything you could to uphold that oath — for your nation, for this generation and every one that follows, and for the very foundations of our government?  That responsibility rests on your shoulders, and we will hold you to every ounce of it or you’ll have to step aside for someone who will actually do the job.   And last I checked, the Fourth Amendment doesn’t have an exception for the President’s demands not quite meeting the letter of the law that day.

Being a patriot is something that you do.   How about some inspiration and leadership today?

Here’s a way to nudge some leadership forward

Here is the Dodd phone tool for calling your Senators.  Senate phone numbers are here; we should focus first on the 14 Senators who promised to help Dodd.  Here are their fax and phone numbers:



Feingold (202) 224-2725 (202) 224-5323
Dodd (202) 224-1083 (202) 224-2823
Obama (202) 228-4260 (202) 224-2854
Sanders (202) 228-0776 (202) 224-5141
Menendez (202) 228-2197 (202) 224-4744
Biden (202) 224-0139 (202) 224-5042
Brown (202) 228-6321 (202) 224-2315
Harkin (202) 224-9369 (202) 224-3254
Cardin (202) 224-1651 (202) 224-4524
Clinton (202) 228-0282 (202) 224-4451
Akaka (202) 224-2126 (202) 224-6361
Webb (202) 228-6363 (202) 224-4024
Kennedy (202) 224-2417 (202) 224-4543
Boxer (415) 956-6701 (202) 224-3553
Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com