Dodd: President uses 'scare tactics' to usurp the law, torture
Dodd repeats vow to block telecom immunity
Continuing his vocal stand against President Bush's dramatic expansion of executive authority, Chris Dodd took to the Senate floor Friday and called on his colleagues to stand up to the administration's "scare tactics" and stop president Bush's "wholesale disregard for the rule of law."
Dodd was repeating his pledge to block a proposed foreign surveillance law that would grant legal immunity to telephone and internet companies that helped the National Security Agency spy on Americans without warrants as part of a post-9/11 wiretapping scheme authorized by Bush.
"For six years this President has used scare tactics to prevent the Congress from reining in his abuse of authority. A case and point is the current direction this body appears to be headed as we prepare to reform and extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," Dodd said. "Many of the unprecedented rollbacks to the rule of law by this Administration have been made in the name of national security."
Dodd, who has lately focused his presidential bid on a promise to uphold the Constitution, spoke as the White House agreed to let key senators see legal justifications of its warrantless wiretapping program before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins debating FISA revisions next week.
Although the Connecticut Democrat does not serve on either the Intelligence of Judiciary Committees, which has jurisdiction over the laws, he has mounted a one-man campaign to block any FISA bill that included telecom immunity, either through an informal "hold" Senators customarily can use to block certain legislation or by taking to the floor for a formal filibuster.
A chief administration critic who serves on both relevant committees, Sen. Russ Feingold, has said he will do whatever it takes to prevent letting telecom companies off the hook, and Sen. Barack Obama, another presidential candidate, has said he would join Dodd's filibuster of any bill containing such a provision.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has said she would commit to filibustering the particular bill passed last week by the Intelligence Committee if it doesn't change, but she has been less precise over whether she will block all telecom immunity. Clinton's campaign did not respond to RAW STORY's request for clarification Friday.
Dodd excoriated the administration in his floor speech Friday, accusing the president of ignoring laws at his leisure, resulting in grave harm to the country. It is time for Congress to stand up to the administration, he said.
"Consider the scandal at Abu Ghraib ... Guantanamo Bay ... the secret prisons run by the CIA ... warrantless wiretapping, torture -- the list goes on," Dodd said. "Each of these policies ... has only been possible becasue Congress has not been able to stop this president's unprecedented expansion of power."
"Whether or not these policies were explicitly authorized is beside the point. In every instance, Congress has been unable to hold this Administration to account for violating the rule of law and our Constitution," Dodd said. "In each instance, Republicans in the Congress have prevented this body from telling this Administration that 'a state of war is not a blank check.'”
A transcript of Dodd's speech is available at FireDogLake.com.
The following video is from C-SPAN, broadcast on October 26, 2007.