Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) On FISA: 'The American People Deserve To Know Exactly What Happened And They Deserve To Know Who Is Accountable. This Bill Fails That Test.
Yesterday we had an explosion of reactions from members of Congress and from our Blue America-endorsed candidates regarding what many people feel is a betrayal by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. I know that John would never brag about it but when Hoyer was fighting for the Majority Leader job, John was the loudest voice on the Internet in opposition, predicting... well, just the kind of thing that happened yesterday. Hit that link and read why respected congressional legal minds like Jerrold Nadler, Tom Allen Russ Feingold, and Chris Dodd are saying no to Hoyer's
compromise capitulation. When I was in DC recently I ran into Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and I congratulated him on finding a very nasty little loophole the Bush Regime had somehow inserted in some legislation when no one was looking. He beamed and was happy that someone knew about his efforts... and then told me his re-election was in jeopardy and asked for help from our PAC. "Congressman Welch," I said politely, you can't be in jeopardy when the Republicans can't even find a third-tier candidate to run against you." He laughed. He wasn't laughing today, though, when he explained why he would vote against the Hoyer-Bush plan to do grave violence to the Constitution:
“I simply do not believe any president, especially this president, should have unilateral or unchecked authority to conduct surveillance without judicial oversight. Congress has an obligation to protect our national security without sacrificing basic rights provided in our Constitution. “While this compromise reflects improvements over previous flawed proposals, it is a compromise I will not support. I have consistently opposed any legislation that grants retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies that cooperated with the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping. Regrettably, this latest proposal fails to hold the administration and the companies accountable for their actions. The American people deserve to know exactly what happened and they deserve to know who is accountable. This bill fails that test."
Very polite but very much to the point. Peter Welch stands with the people of Vermont and the people of the United States, not with Bush, Hoyer and their big criminal campaign donors. Another member, who has asked to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, just said this: "Steny Hoyer is the best friend money can buy." We'll see all the competition for the best friends money can buy during the vote today.
UPDATE: Blue America's John Hall speaks out against FISA:
I have consistently supported modernizing the existing FISA law to give our government the tools it needs to identify and defeat terrorists in today's high-tech world, while at the same time preserving the freedoms and rights that define America. I have voted three times to pass legislation that would strengthen and modernize FISA and reaffirm the rule of law. Despite some improvements over previous attempts to update FISA, the bill considered by the House today regrettably falls short of achieving that critical balance. The rule of law lies at the core of America's founding principles, and the language in this bill was too weak to ensure that any breach of our laws that may have occurred under the warrantless wiretapping program will be fully addressed. It is not appropriate to deny Americans the right to pursue these matters in court, or to short-circuit the judicial review that lies at the heart of our system of checks and balances, which is the bedrock of our Constitution. Accordingly, I voted against this bill.