Oh, well. I've been wrong about him before...
I address myself now to my colleagues from the other side of the aisle --- to Republicans now facing at least the possible prospect of a Democratic president. A Democratic president who would have the new power created in this bill --- the power to authorize American telecommunications companies to snoop on anyone, anywhere, anytime, and to halt any subsequent investigation of the matter in its tracks simply by showing a secret court in a classified proceeding that he had authorized the measure. Not that it was justified by national security or balance of harms or any other criteria --- contrary to what you may have heard from the leadership of the Other Body, or read in Newsweek, a plain reading of the text of the bill says that if the Attorney General says it was authorized, nothing else matters.
And I thank my Republican colleagues, because, well... not to put to fine a point on it, but I think we all know who that possible future Democratic president is likely to be. And I remember, as I'm sure you do too, how little many of you trusted the last one. How that last president was described as a liar, untrustworthy, bloodthirsty --- how major news sources wondered out loud about whether the unfortunate suicide of one of his aides was murder --- and how he was ultimately impeached for perjuriously answering a question which... well, I've reread it twice coming in here, and I don't even understand it! But you Republicans who support this bill apparently feel that nothing remotely like this would ever come up with a future Democratic president.
And I appreciate that. And I will remember it. I may mention on the campaign trail, if my judgment is questioned, that you, those of you who would vote in favor of giving a future Democratic president this power, knowing who it would likely be, had no qualms whatever in doing so. I will certainly remember it in the future, should that Democratic administration propose some other security measure to which you do object --- and at that time, if not before, I would certainly remind the people.
Because this isn't a vote about now. It's not a vote about the past. This is a vote about the future. About what kind of country we are. About what kind of country we want to be. It's not about this side versus that side, not your team versus my team or your party against my party. It's about whether, even after the wiretapping of Martin Luther King and of members of this body for political purposes, exposed by the Church committee within living memory of many of those standing before me, any executive of any party ought to ever be trusted with unchecked, unreviewable, unaccountable, raw power to secretly snoop on everybody in the country, including you yourselves, with no checks and balances whatever.
I say no. A bill to grant that power ought to never leave this chamber.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
An excerpt from a speech Obama almost certainly won't deliver in support of the promised filibuster of telecom immunity that apparently won't happen either: