Crime/Corruption

Reid pulls FISA bill from Congress, backs down from Dodd and the grassroots

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By Martin Bosworth

The headline says it all…threatened with a filibuster and after eight hours of angry, eloquent debate on the vileness of supporting warrantless wiretapping and amnesty for lawbreaking telecom companies, Harry Reid has pulled the FISA reauthorization from the calendar for this Congressional session.

Make no mistake–this bill will be back next year. Protection for AT&T and Verizon is too high a priority for Bush, Mike McConnell, and the other enablers like Harry Reid. But the battlefield will be very different next time around. Next time the momentum will be on the side of Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, the ten Democratic Senators who voted against cloture, the many committed bloggers and activists who rallied the forces, and the thousands of committed Americans who wrote, sent e-mails, signed petitions, and made phone calls to stop this travesty of justice from becoming law.

Plus, Clinton, Obama, and Biden–all of whom pledged to support Dodd–will have seen how much of a bounce this gave him, and will want a piece of that action. If even one of them joins the next filibuster, that will mess up the Senatorial calendar something fierce and screw Reid’s day. Imagine how much fun it’ll be to have a superhuman orator like Barack Obama up there railing against telecom immunity, then imagine being Harry Reid at that moment. Wouldn’t want to be that guy.

Chris Dodd pledged to give his last breath–to speak until he could speak no longer–to remind a corrupt, complacent Congress that America believes in the rule of law, in due process, in accountability for crimes committed, and in the idea that we do not adopt the tactics of our foes to beat them. We believe in the Constitution. We believe that our country has to stand for something better. And he came through.

It’s not just him, though. It’s Matt Browner-Hamlin and Tim Tagaris from Dodd’s team. It’s the peerless Glenn Greenwald and Christy Hardin Smith, who were on this train from the beginning. It’s the literally tens–hundreds of thousands of people who wrote, sent e-mails, called, faxed, and made their voices heard. It’s the 23-year-old new voter who raged eloquently and fiercely against an indolent, failing, crippled government that abets elite privilege and tries to squash dissent. In other words, it’s you and I.

The “300” motif I keep using is cliche, yes, but accurate. Just like the Spartans (and a few thousand Greeks) holding the line against the hordes of Darius because of a carefully chosen battleground, we held back a vastly superior force, emboldened by a worthless media and millions of lobby dollars. There will most certainly be a next round, and we may not win.

But each and every time they bring this back, we’ll be there to fight. And we’ll make sure they know how we feel, again and again.

8 replies »

  1. I am e-mailing Clinton and Obama today to inform them that my voting decision depends on their support of Chris Dodd’s fight against the FISA Reauthorization bill.

  2. As a commenter on my previous post pointed out, Dodd also voted to authorize the PATRIOT Act. Maybe this was simply a case of a man realizing they’d made a mistake and committing themselves to a better course of action.

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