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Schumer and Durbin Want Lieberman Stripped of Homeland Security Chair

Newsweek’s Howard Fineman on Keith Olbermann:

[Obama’s]  going to leave it up to a vote I think.  What my sources tell me is that there’s likely to be a vote next Tuesday. The Senate Democrats will caucus when they come back for the lame duck session.  They’ll all go into a room, Joe Lieberman will make his case for maintaining his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, then there will be a secret ballot vote.

Obama’s opinion is sort of on record via Harry Reid, and we’ll see how it goes. 

Interestingly, people like Dick Durbin who is the first Democrat in the Senate — the first Senator, and from Illinois, to support Barack Obama — is really loaded for bear about Lieberman, he wants to kick Lieberman off that Chairmanship. Chuck Schumer, the head of the Campaign Committee likewise.

So it could be a very close vote, and it’ll be left to the secret ballot of the Senators. You’ve got Evan Bayh and you’ve got Chris Dodd who are supporting Lieberman, but there are a lot of other people who are still angry at him for the very comments you were talking about just a little while ago.

One point I think needs to be made.  This isn’t about Joe Lieberman maintaining membership in a country club as a matter of feel-good "bipartisanship."  There’s actually a job that needs doing here, and when Chris Dodd and Evan Bayh say that they want Lieberman to retain his chairmanship, they are saying that the extraordinary waste, graft, greed and cronyism that have built the Department of Homeland Security to a bloated, ineffectual taxpayer-funded behemoth under Joe Lieberman is just fine.

Here’s Naomi Klein from the Shock Docrine:

In just a few years, the homeland security industry, which barely existed before 9/11, has exploded to a size that is now significantly larger than either Hollywood or the music business. Yet what is most striking is how little the security boom is analysed and discussed as an economy, as an unprecedented convergence of unchecked police powers and unchecked capitalism, a merger of the shopping mall and the secret prison. 

No-bid contracts kept from public scrutiny in the name of "national security" have built a department of unprecedented waste and theft, all rubber stamped and protected from Senate investigation by Joe Lieberman’s chairmanship.  And what has it gotten us?  Nothing.  Basically, the Department of Homeland Security became just another front for the military industrial complex to feed off American taxpayers while neocons like Lieberman screamed "terror terror terror, just trust us."

The FY 2009 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security is $50.5 billion, a 6.8% increase over 2008.

What Bayh and Dodd are saying is that they like Joe so much that this is a small price to pay, that the status quo is just fine and that there is no real need for change.

I wonder if taxpayers agree that $50.5 billion is chump change so long everyone can still sing kumbaya on the Senate floor?

Good for Schumer and Durbin for putting public stewardship over old-boy clubbiness and saying "no."

You can call your Senators here.

You can sign a letter telling Senators to strip him of his Committee Chairmanship here.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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