FISA amendment pits Rule of Bush vs. Rule of Law

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the rule of law today, and call me a cynic, but I’m guessing the rule of law will fail.

Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Bob Inglis (R-SC) will offer the following one-sentence amendment to the pending Defense Appropriations bill (H.R.5631):

None of the funds made available in this Act may be expended to conduct electronic surveillance (as defined in section 101(f) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801(f)) of any United States person (as defined in section 101(i) of such Act (50 U.S.C. 1801(i)) in contravention of the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

This should be one of those “duh-uh” votes — an amendment so simple in both language and intent that even a congressman can understand it — for all it does is merely prohibit expending funds on surveillance activities that are already prohibited by law. Well, um… duh-uh.

So I’m not sure what is more ironic (or frightening): that such an amendment is even necessary, or that a majority of Republicans will likely vote against it?

Relying on an extreme version of the unitary executive doctrine and certain undefined wartime powers, the President and his men have chosen to interpret FISA and other laws as they see fit. With the Republican-controlled Congress lacking the will or the balls to fulfill its constitutionally mandated role as a coequal branch of government, the only Congressional power not left up to Presidential interpretation is the power of the purse.

That is the power the amendment’s bipartisan sponsors seek to exercise here, and it is hard to understand how their colleagues can possibly argue against it. Don’t appropriate money for illegal activities! What’s so controversial about that?

Of course our vaunted checks and balances have long since collapsed under a Republican leadership that values party loyalty over that to the Constitution, and seems to ignore the possibility that the next imperial President could be a Democrat. Still, Rep. Inslee — the amendment’s lead sponsor — remains hopeful that the amendment will pass and the rule of law will prevail. For if we don’t do something to rein in this “radical and dangerous” expansion of presidential power he said, “we might as well kiss off Democracy.”

Pucker up, America.

[Cross-posted at Huffington Post]

UPDATE:
After much spirited debate, the amendment was defeated on a voice vote. The cowards weren’t even willing to go on the record.

Members of the intelligence committee refused to verify if the current wiretapping program complied with FISA. So much for the rule of law.

UPDATE, UPDATE:
Well, apparently there was recorded vote, and the amendment failed 207 to 219. Closer than I expected. But still, the vast majority of Republicans refused to pass an amendment that would have prohibited spending taxpayer’s money on illegal activities. What’s up with that?

Comments

  1. 1

    Michael spews:

    Fabrizi, who became mayor in 2003 after his predecessor Joseph Ganim was convicted of racketeering, vowed to stay in office. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  2. 3

    Donny Most spews:

    Sorry! Ganim’s a Democrat. It’s John Rowland, the corrupt Governor of Connecticut, who is the Republican.

    John Rowland is the 1st corrupt Governor in 100years in Connecticut. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s a Republican.

  3. 5

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    I wonder what the tories who troll around here think of the loss
    of democracy in the United States.

    My guess is, it’s OK with them as long as Bill Clinton didn’t take it.

  4. 7

    Nindid spews:

    First things first… it is a sad state of affairs in this country when someone has to introduce an amendment that stipulates the President of the United States must simply follow the law. Its not sad, its traitorous.

    One question…

    Could someone fill me in if there is any inside baseball on this vote? Would passing such a measure obligate the Republicans to actually investigate these things to enforce its Constitutional oversight obligations? Or is this merely symbolic?

  5. 8

    Donny Most spews:

    It’s merely symbolic. But, really, the Bushistas are only overtly what this country has been about all along : The Monied Elites Rule.

    There seems, short of revolution, nothing that can be done about it.

  6. 9

    righton spews:

    where’s the rider that censures McDermott for his illegal release of private cell phone conversations?

  7. 11

    ManofTruth spews:

    righton >”…censures McDermott for his illegal release of private cell phone conversations?”

    Violating an illegal law is NOT an illegal act

  8. 12

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    Mc Dermott did not play a role in intercepting the call, and there’s no law against receiving information from an illegal
    interception.

    There is a Supreme Court decision that found “a stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.” Judge David B. Sentelle argued in a compelling dissent, this distinction is far less clear than it may seem. For one thing, the tape in the Supreme Court’s case quite clearly had been illegally recorded as well. What’s more, Judge Sentelle rightly points out that under the majority’s reading, the newspapers that published the story were just as legally culpable as Mr. McDermott.

    Funny that you come to this thread, about the abuse of power, and bring up another such abuse. McDermott had a First Amendment right to pass on the information, according to some pretty convincing legal opinions.

    But, Republicans don’t care about the law, only about winning.

  9. 13

    Thomas Trainwinder spews:

    McDermott blew it. Nothwithstanding that, Zaratheus could use some help. You mean “Hear Hear” not “Here Here”.

    Otherwise, people might doubt your credibility….

  10. 14

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    The correct term is, “hear, hear!” It is an abbreviation for “hear,
    all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say!”

    Of course, if the speaker is actually asking a question, such as
    “and just where do you think we should open the new strip club?”
    it’s not hard to imagine that at least one yahoo in attendance
    might yell, “here, here!” But this would be the exception that
    proves the rule.

    I think the exeption is the case here, since such a rider is
    available only here.

  11. 15

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    Back to the important subject of the president breaking specific
    laws, the Inslee amendment deserves passage, though it will be ingnored by the Emperor-in-Chief.

  12. 16

    Nindid spews:

    It is not about winning, its about power.

    People like to talk about Republican values, but I have never seen them.

    Republicans say they believe in limited government.

    Yet every single Republican administration in my lifetime has increased the size of the federal government and every single Democrat has made it smaller.

    Republicans say they believe in fiscal responsibility.

    C’mon, do we really even need to go here? Even the most rabid Republican sycophant has to see that Bush and his pet Republicans Congress have blown up the good fiscal policies of the Clinton years and turned massive surpluses into massive deficits. They have barely even slowed down their massive show of pork and corruption.

    Republicans say they believe in individual rights.

    Everyone remember all the Republicans freaking out about black helicopters and how the goverment was going to impose martial law and the police state? Well, you guys were right. Big Brother is here and the Republicans are bringing it right down Main Street. You can’t be both a Libertarian and a Republican these days without some serious doublethink.

    Republicans say they belive in truth.

    They went to the ultimate cynical end in trying to impeach a president for lying about an affair. They asked “what will we tell the children?” Well, what the hell will we tell the children this time? Bush has made a habit of lying his ass off to teh American people every single chance he gets, but only about the most important issues of the day. In fact, his defense in lying is that Our Dear Leader knows best and Americans can’t handle the truth about important things. I won’t bore you all with the details of the lies since you all know them.

    This is not to say Republicans are hypocrites. I don’t think they are. The Republican Party is built on propaganda. They tell their right-wing fundamentalist base that they are right there with them and if only they vote for them one more time, they will stamp out all sin and anyone who doesn’t toe the religous ideology of the right-wing.

    How is that working for you all so far?

  13. 17

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    But, in the context of the refusal of elected officals to obey rules and agreements, the case of John Boner versus Jim McDermott is illustrative.

    The House Ethics Committee received complaints in 1995 against House Speaker Newt Gingrich. McDermott insisted that the Committee proceed with a thorough investigation of Gingrich. This led to a special investigation of the charges and resulted in a fine of $300,000 against Gingrich. A condition of the Ethics Committee action, accepted by Gingrich, was an agreement that he would not orchestrate a media response to downplay the penalties imposed for his ethics violations.

    Gingrich quickly thereafter organized a telephone conference call with House Republican leaders to craft and implement precisely the kind of media response that had been explicitly prohibited in the agreement. The tape that was released by McDermott was of that call.

    So, the Republican leadership conspired to break a rule the Speaker agreed to, then cried foul when they were exposed. Not able to retaliate under criminal statutes, they go for a nuisance civil suit. Even if the suit is upheld, the only thing that will happen is that McDermott will have to spend his campaign fund to pay Boner’s legal fees and the relatively small damages.

    Bush does the same thing. Failing to obey a specific law that requires the president and his administration to obtain a warrant from the FISA court, they are exposed and then go after anyone who leaked the information, including reporters, hammer and tong.

    These are examples of a grab for excessive power, that has clearly corrupted the Republican Party and sent it far afield of its traditional role in U. S. politics.

    Why is it that Republicans cannot govern based on their ideas? Why is stealing elections the Republican strategy. Why don’t you want to follow the will of the people.

    Why are you crooks? Did you love Richard Nixon that much?

  14. 20

    LeftTurn spews:

    We can use this against the taliban wing of the GOP. When they vote no on this, we’ll put it into campaign commercials showing that the righties won’t protect our civil rights.

  15. 22

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    15.

    Also at the National Press Club, Cheney was asked about his “last throes” statement last year, concerning the violence in Iraq. He said, when asked if he still thought the resistance was in its last throes:

    I do. What I was referring to was the series of events that took place in 1995 [sic – 2005]. I think the key turning point when we get back 10 years from now, say, and look back on this period of time and with respect to the campaign in Iraq, will be that series of events when the Iraqis increasingly took over responsibility for their own affairs.

    Cheney said that violence in the country, from May 2005 on, “will clearly decline.” He was making a prediction and he was wrong.

    But, the crowd Cheney runs with can never accept reality. They just lie, and lie, and lie.

    Isn’t that funny? No? I don’t think so, either.

  16. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hey, anybody wanna see a bunch of Republicans wallowing in their own excrement? Get a load of the Kentucky governor and his pals — up to their eyeballs in corruption and indictments!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06.....artner=AOL

    HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR

  17. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hey Bill — if you’re still side scrolling, try taking your computer to a shop where someone can show you how to push the buttons.

  18. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    1

    Ironic, isn’t it, that the crows who cawed the loudest about “freedom” turned out to be its worst enemy.

  19. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    6, 7

    The only wrong with McDermott releasing that tape is that the traitors caught on it plotting the overthrow of our democracy haven’t been hanged.

  20. 28

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    Fletcher is an ordained minister, a family physician and a former fighter pilot, Mr. Fletcher, who was elected in 2003 by a 10-percentage-point margin.>/i>

    His background sounds a lot like what many of the trools (that’s a cross between a troll and a fool) who post here claim. I guess we are seeing the real face of the Republican Party here. A bunch of crooks.

    (I suppose we’ll be getting the JCH rant about isolated black politicians in the South soon.)

    In anticipation, I will ask him what is the relationship between them and the National Democratic Party?

  21. 29

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    24.

    From the article:

    Fletcher is an ordained minister, a family physician and a former fighter pilot, Mr. Fletcher, who was elected in 2003 by a 10-percentage-point margin.

    His background sounds a lot like what many of the trools (that’s a cross between a troll and a fool) who post here claim. I guess we are seeing the real face of the Republican Party here. A bunch of crooks.

    (I suppose we’ll be getting the JCH rant about isolated black politicians in the South soon.)

    In anticipation, I will ask him what is the relationship between them and the National Democratic Party?

  22. 30

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    13

    “Why is it that Republicans cannot govern based on their ideas?”
    Commentby Harry Tuttle— 6/20/06@ 10:24 am

    Because they have no ideas. They invaded Iraq with no idea of how they would occupy it. They steal elections with no idea of how they will govern. They can’t finish anything they start. Republicans can’t, and don’t, think past money. All they’re capable of thinking is, where is the money, and how can we take it?

  23. 31

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    While we’re on the subject of rule of law, let’s not forget sillyguy’s silly suggestion to amend the state constitution to require revotes in close elections:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....hopter.JPG

    Know what Republicans would say if a Democrat demanded a revote?

    “Sore losers”
    “Whiners”
    “Crybabies”

  24. 33

    proud leftist spews:

    27, 28
    Let’s apply sillyguy’s proposal for “do-over” elections to a broader spectrum of events. For instance, if the Mariners lose 3-2, shouldn’t the result be stricken and the game played over because a one-run win doesn’t resolve anything? Or, if the Supreme Court reaches a 5-4 decision, shouldn’t we just start the case over again and deem the 5-4 decision as having no precedential value because it’s too close to mean anything? I’m sure we can come up with other instances in which close results should permit do-overs.

  25. 34

    GORDITOS DE LOS ALBERTO spews:

    The 3rd tier Republican trolls who post here have their lips firmly planted on the aristocracies hindquarters.

  26. 35

    Michael spews:

    @8 So you would agree then that there is nothing wrong with possessing or selling stolen property as long as it wasn’t you who stole it?

    @13 Did you actually listen to the tape, or are you parrotting the driveby media? On the tape Newt actually discusses how the Republican were going to comply with the ruling, not how they were going to get around it.

    @19 Hey, anybody wanna see a bunch of Democrats wallowing in their own excrement? Get a load of the Connecticut mayor and his pals – up to their eyeballs in cocaine!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....00845.html

  27. 36

    YoSUCKSDICK spews:

    I listened to the tape and Newt The Hoot, the rethug who was so crooked even his own party censured him three times, was trying to BREAK the law. Oh and by the way, during this time he was having an affair with his intern. While his wife was in the hospital with cancer he left her and eventually married the intern with whom he’d had the affair. And all this while throwing bombs at Clinton for having an affair with an intern. You gottla love how righties see morality. It’s from some other universe.

  28. 39

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Connecticut, like Wisconsin, is wallowing in corruption within both parties. The difference is Democrats kick their corrupt legislators off committees and demand their resignations, while Republicans lie, cover up, block investigations, and protect their thieves.

  29. 40

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    Ed Bethune, Newt Gingrich’s lawyer from the transcript of the Martin intercept:

    Ed Bethune: And so they [Ethics Subcommittee] have asked for a two-hour embargo after we hand in our answer, during which time they contemplate a conference call to discuss with the full committee members all the ramifications of this, and that would be the first time the full committee members would hear whatever it is the subcommittee members intend to say to them.

    And it would also be a time when we are authorized to have the conversation that we are having now, a little prematurely.

  30. 41

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    The Bethune statement clearly shows that both he and Newt knew that, under the terms of the agreement, they should not have been talking to the others participating in the conference call about the fine or the agreement with the committee. Not even the full committee knew the agreement when the conference call was taking place.
    were talking

  31. 42

    Harry Tuttle spews:

    Comparisons of McDermott releasing the tape to crimes are senseless, because it is not a crime to do so. The Boner/McDermott case is a civil matter. The Judicial Deparment refused to prosecute.

  32. 43

    rhp6033 spews:

    at # 12: “The Republican Party is built on propaganda. They tell their right-wing fundamentalist base that they are right there with them and if only they vote for them one more time, they will stamp out all sin and anyone who doesn’t toe the religous ideology of the right-wing”,

    Actually, the Republicans talk to voters the same way high school jocks talk to girls.

    “Trust me, go all the way with me, everything will be alright”.

    A few months later, they realize that they’ve been screwed, and they are in trouble, and the Republicans are telling them its their own fault, and they are own their own.

  33. 45

    Gorditos de los Alberto spews:

    Who’s Rossi? I just crossed the border a few months ago and I have heard nothing about a Governor Rossi. The only Rossi I know is this swarthy , smiling guy who delivers my pizza and tries to sell me some cheapo , self-published softcover book.

  34. 46

    Gorditos de los Alberto spews:

    I notice that there are very few wingnut comments in this thread. When wingnuts have no answer they are silent and try to ignore the problem in the hopes that it will go away.

    But the fact of the matter is: You are either a Republican Fascist or a Constitution-loving Democrat.

    That’s the fact, Jack!