doddpix.JPGYesterday evening, Sen. Chris Dodd gave a ripping speech on the Senate floor regarding FISA, the rule of law, and the disrespect for the institutions of government that supporters of telecom immunity have shown. It was the best speech anyone has given since this whole illegal domestic spying program was revealed.

Sen. Dodd laid out the law and the facts of the whistleblower revelations about what has been done…everything. It was clear, concise, and passionate, and if you missed it last night, you need to watch it.

Here’s just a segment:

…And if I have needed any reminder of that fact, simply look to all those who have joined this fight – my colleagues and the many, many Americans who have given me strength for this fight. Strength that comes from the passion and eloquence of citizens who don’t have to be involved, but choose to be nonetheless.

They see what I see in this debate – that by short-circuiting the judicial process we are sending a dangerous signal to future generations. They see us establishing a precedent that Congress can—and will—provide immunity to potential law breakers, if they are “important” enough….

Mr. President, unwarranted domestic spying didn’t happen in a panic or short-term emergency, not for a week, or a month, or even a year. If it had, I might not be here today.

But that isn’t the case. What we now know is that spying by this Administration went on, relentlessly, for more than five years….

But that isn’t the case either, Mr. President. Indeed, I am here today because with offense after another after another, I believe it is long past time to say: “enough.”

I am here today because of a pattern—a pattern of abuse against civil liberties and the rule of law. Against the Constitution—of which we are custodians, temporary though that status may be….

So, why are we here? Because, Mr. President – it is alleged that giant telecom corporations worked with our government to compile Americans’ private, domestic communications records into a database of enormous scale and scope.

Secretly and without a warrant, those corporations are alleged to have spied on their own customers – American customers.

Here’s only one of the most egregious examples. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Clear, first-hand whistleblower documentary evidence [states]…that for year on end every e-mail, every text message, and every phone call carried over the massive fiber-optic links of sixteen separate companies routed through AT&T’s Internet hub in San Francisco—hundreds of millions of private, domestic communications—have been…copied in their entirety by AT&T and knowingly diverted wholesale by means of multiple “splitters” into a secret room controlled exclusively by the NSA.

The phone calls and internet traffic of millions of Americans, diverted into a secret room controlled by the National Security Agency. That allegation still needs to be proven in a court of law. But it clearly needs to be determined in a court of law and not here in Senate.

I suppose if you only see cables and computers there, the whole thing seems almost harmless. Certainly nothing to get worked up about—a routine security sweep, and a routine piece of legislation blessing it….

I imagine you wouldn’t see much harm in voting to allow this practice to continue either.

But if you see a vast dragnet for millions of Americans’ private conversations, conducted by a government agency that acted without a warrant, acted outside of the rule of law—then, I believe, you’ll recognize what’s at stake here. You’ll see that what’s at stake is the sanctity of the law and the sanctity of our privacy. And you’ll probably come to a very different conclusion….

Read the entire speech and watch it on video here. Bravo, Sen. Dodd — and thank you for standing up, time and time again, on this issue. Much appreciated.

Glenn, dday, Kagro, emptywheel — all have more on this issue. And I’ll have more in a bit as well.

UPDATE:  The Senate, for this morning at least, will be dealing with housing bill issues.  Just confirmed that with some folks on the Hill.  Am keeping an eye on this, though, and will update if that changes. 

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