Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Well said, Senator Dodd
Tonight on the floor of the Senate, Chris Dodd delivered a genuinely wonderful speech on civil liberties, capping his long battle against the FISA "reforms" tossed to the Senate by the House, at the behest of the Bush administration. Below is a transcript (which took a lot of pausing the TiVo. Hopefully, somebody else whose willing to admit to watching C-SPAN will post the video on Youtube.)

Dodd began by quoting the Church Committee, which investigated civil liberties abuses by the Nixon administration:
"Listen to their words of three decades ago ... and I quote: "The view that the traditional American principles of justice and fair play have no place in our struggle against the enemies of freedom, that view created the Nixonian secrecy of the 1970s." And the Church Committee wrote those words in part, as a rebuke to our predecessors in this chamber, who for years allowed secrecy, and executive abuses to slide. But today those words take on new meaning. Today, they rebuke us in a way. Today they shame us for our lack of faith that we
cannot at the same time keep our country safe, and our Constitution whole.

As I said before, when the 21st century version of the Church Committee convenes to investigate the abuses of the past years, how will we be judged? When it reads through the records of our debates, not "if" Mr. President, but "when," what will they find? When the president asked us to repudiate the Geneva Conventions, and strip away the right of habeas corpus, how did we respond? How was our Congress? What did we say about that? When stories about secret prisons, outsourced torture, became impossible to deny, what did that Congress do, in 2008, and 2007? And in June of 2008, when were were asked to put corporations explicitly outside the law, and accept at face value the argument that some are literally too rich to be sued, how did that Congress, how did that Senate vote on that matter? All of these questions are coming for us, Mr.
President, all of that and more. And in the quiet of his or her conscience, each Senator knows what the answers are. Remember, this is about than a few telephone calls, a few companies or a few lawsuits. If the supporters of retroactive immunity keep this argument a technical argument, then they will win. The technical argument obscures the defining question: the rule of law, or the rule of men. that question never goes away, as long there are free societies, generations and leaders who are struggling mightily to answer, and each generation must assert an answer for itself. just because our founders answered it correctl, doesn't mean we are bound by their choice. In that, as with all decisions, we are entirely free, the burden falls not on history, but on us, on each one of us. the 100 of us iwho serve n this remarkable chamber.

But we can take council. We can listen to those who came before us, who made the right choices, even when our nation's very survival was at risk. They knew that the rule of law was far more rooted in our character, than any one man's lawlessness. And from the beginning, they advised us to fight that lawlessness, whenever we found it. At the Constitutional Convention, James
Madison said, and I quote him, "the means of defense against foreign danger, historically, have become the instruments of tyranny at home." He also said, and I quote, 'I beleve that there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by tose in power, than by violent and sudden usuprtions," end of quote. As long as we are temporary custodians of the Constitution, as we are, we have a duty to guard against those gradual, and silent encroachments. And that's exactly what these are; gradual and silent encroachments. ..."

Dodd went on to say that the founders can warn and council, but "they cannot act for us," and called upon his colleagues to provide the answer "to them, and to generatons to come."

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posted by JReid @ 10:21 PM  
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