Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), the only senator with the guts and sense of democratic principle to vote against the PATRIOT Act when it was first put to Congress six weeks after 9-11, has blasted the attempt by the White House, with the connivance of Sen. Pat Roberts, (R-KS) to introduce an even worse version of the bill in secret in the Senate Intelligence Committee Roberts chairs.
While the pusillanimous Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee cower in silence about the attempt to end run Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on renewal of the PATRIOT Act, their colleague Feingold says, "The Senate should not begin its consideration of the PATRIOT Act with a secret review, of a secret bill, concerning a law that often operates in secret. "
He adds, "Any bill to reauthorize, fix, or expand the PATRIOT Act, which has caused such controversy around the country almost from the day it was enacted in 2001, should be debated in the light of day, not behind closed doors. The Senate must respect the principle of open government, so deeply rooted in my own state of Wisconsin, because this bill directly implicates the civil liberties of all Americans."
While Feingold deserves the praise of all civil libertarians right and left for his bold statement, it is a sad commentary on the state of American democracy that his is almost a lone voice. Certainly there is not even a pale echo from the seven Democratic poobahs on the Intelligence Committee (if you want to try changing that, call them at the numbers listed in the box at the top right of this web page).
I've said it before, and I'll say it again here: Feingold for President in '08!
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