Tag: Russ Feingold

New Attorney General Addresses “Secret Law” & “State Secrecy”

The new Attorney General, confirmed just the other day, Eric Holder, gave some written answers to Senator Russ Feingold concerning the latter’s questions regarding review of Bush administration policies concerning promulgation of “secret laws” and claims of “state privilege” in legal cases. I’m reproducing the exchange by Holder and Feingold, as it bears upon significant pending issues, not least the Jeppesen and al-Haramain cases.

Action: Russ Feingold’s Petition against the FISA Bill

TomP has posted a diary calling on everyone to sign Russ Feingold’s petition against the “compromise” FISA bill.

From Russ Feingold:

In recent days, people across the country have voiced the opinion that the so-called “compromise” FISA bill working its way through the Senate must be stopped.

As you already know, I am working hard to strip retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that allegedly cooperated with the President’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program from the bill.

But that is not the only problem. This FISA legislation gives enormous powers to the government: including the ability to read emails and text messages and listen to phone conversations of anyone communicating with their family members, friends, associates, reporters, ANYBODY who may be overseas – all with zero court review.  Nobody should be supporting this legislation.

We can defend our country from terrorists while at the same time protecting the rights and freedoms outlined in the Constitution.   It’s time for our elected officials to stand up for the values on which our country was founded.

We should celebrate our Constitution this Fourth of July – and do everything we can to prevent it from being torn up when the Senate returns to Washington next week.

Progressives everywhere have already had a tremendous impact – with phone calls, emails, and letters pouring into offices by the hundreds (in some cases thousands), but the pressure on my colleagues to give in to this so-called “compromise” and President Bush is strong.

I’m going to continue to do everything I can to stand up for the rights and freedoms we all share.  Thanks again for doing your part.


Russ Feingold

Honorary Chair

Progressive Patriots Fund

An easy way to get active. Sorry this is so short. Wanted to get it out quick.

Operation Read the Bill (FISA ACTION)

First, print the thing out, all 114 pages (pdf), and hand it to your Senators. Best if you can say “I’ve read it, I expect you to take the time to do so yourself.” For extra credit, take a highlighter to the printout and mark up the sections you consider problematic.

Bring an accomplice with a vidcam. An admission that they haven’t and won’t read the bill makes nice youtube, come re-election time.

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

On Preventing the FISA Amendments Act from Being Jammed Through the Senate

   “I’m pleased we were able to delay a vote on FISA until after the July 4th holiday instead of having it jammed through. I hope that over the July 4th holiday, Senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people. It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation.”

How to find your Senators’ appearances? Start with their Senate and Campaign websites. Next, search Google News for “YourSenator’sname Parade” “YourSenator’s name Barbeque” “YourSenator’sname Picnic” “YourSenator’sname fundraiser” If you don’t get hits, make a Google Alert. Post any scheduled events you find below in comments.

Senator Feingold plans to introduce 6 Amendments. He explains them, not in great detail, in Fact Sheet: Potential Feingold Amendments to FISA Bill. Print it out too, and when you catch your Senator, ask that they support them all.

They are

Dodd-Feingold Amendment Stripping Retroactive Immunity

Feingold-Webb-Tester Amendment to Provide Protections for Americans

Use Limits Amendment

Prohibiting “Reverse Targeting”

Prohibiting “Bulk Collection”

Congress Access to FISA Court Materials

If your Senator won’t budge on immunity shift the conversation to the problems with the parts that go forward. If any Amendments pass, and the Senate approves the revised version, it throws the whole deal back to re-negotiation with the House, which would then have to start it’s process all over again. The package can not go to Bush’s desk until both the House and Senate pass identical versions.  

Even with smoke and mirrors, it’s still FISA capitulation

According to The Hill, a new proposal from some of the more spineless members of the Congressional Democrats, have offered the Republicans a “proposal to break the logjam on electronic-surveillance legislation by allowing federal district courts to determine whether telephone companies seeking legal immunity received orders from the Bush administration to wiretap people’s phones.”

The new smoke and mirrors immunity was offered by flag-pin wearing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and supported by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chair of the Senate Intelligence committee. While the plan differs from the one championed by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), “in both cases, the courts would not decide whether those orders constitute a violation of the law, according to people familiar with the language.”

But, Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) are having none of this. In a 3-page letter (pdf) to their congressional colleagues, they write:

From the heartland: A rationale for the Iraq Moratorium

We’ve written in the past about the hardy and dedicated folks up in Hayward, in northern Wisconsin, who have led the nation in participation in the Iraq Moratorium, which will be observed again on next Friday, May 16.

They’ve turned out 80 people in a city of 2,100 for the monthly Third Friday vigil at a highway intersection — a participation rate that would translate nationally into 12 million people in the streets.

Wisconsin has more events each month than any other state except California, with seven times the population, in large part because the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, a statewide coalition of 150 groups, has encouraged its affiliates to take part.

Not resting on their laurels, two of the organizers of the Hayward vigils have written the following piece, which was distributed statewide by WNPJ. Please take the time to read it all the way through, so you don’t miss the powerful quote at the end from Martin Murie:

Rationale for participating in the Iraq Moratorium – “Let’s Work Together”

Dear Concerned Citizens,

When Russ Feingold was at his Sawyer County listening session in Hayward this last February, Peace North member Dan Krause (in front of one hundred people) informed him that Wisconsin is leading the nation, per capita, in Iraq Moratorium monthly events.  As north woods folks are sometimes inclined to do, Dan followed up with a bit of brag by telling Feingold that Hayward, per capita, is leading the nation in turnout for these events.  Much to our delight, Feingold responded that he was well aware of that fact!  After the session, he shook Dan’s hand and told him to “keep up the good work.”

Less than a week later Senator Feingold introduced troop re-deployment legislation, yet again, onto the floor of the Senate, telling his colleagues that at listening sessions throughout Wisconsin in January and February his constituents made it clear that they wanted an end to the war in Iraq.  Three weeks later almost 70 people came out again in Hayward for the March Iraq Moratorium Day to stand for peace.  Many folks said they felt like they owed it to Senator Feingold to take a stand.

In a parallel universe, Hillary says Feingold can’t win

I have been searching for a way to convey to Clinton supporters how offensive her attempts to change the topic from the Tuzla Fables to the Wright sermons ever since the former undercut her campaign.  If fanning the flames of white racial resentment against Blacks is her only path to victory, she has no path to victory.  It has struck me the old consciousness-raising technique of recasting acts based on race, gender, sexuality or religion as if they reflected one of the other dimensions of difference, may shed some new light here.  Being a Jew who originally wanted Russ Feingold to run for President (despite some misgivings about his electability), it occurred to me that we can examine the legitimacy her actions are by imagining how they might translate to a situation where religion, not race, was the concern.

Join me, then, in the parallel universe where it is Russ Feingold rather than Barack Obama who won Iowa, drove John Edwards out of the race, and now had an insurmountable pledged delegate lead over Hillary Clinton.

In this universe, controversial sermons from Feingold’s rabbi have recently come to light.  How might the Clinton campaign respond?

Antiwar movement could roar like a lion in March

[AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I retitled this and edited a bit to make it sexier (or should I say more alluring?) Hope that’s kosher.]

Maybe we shouldn’t complain about the news media’s lack of coverage of the antiwar movement. They don’t even cover the issue when it’s debated for two days in the US Senate.

Senate Democrats, failing to pass anything this week, promise to try again in April, when an appropriations bill comes up.  House Democrats are in a “wait til’ next year” mode.

All the more reason to turn up the heat in March.  And there are plenty of opportunities to take action — in Washington or in your hometown — as the 5th anniversary of the invasion approaches on March 19.  

The two proposals to change course in Iraq failed, predictably, this week, perhaps providing an excuse for the media’s lack of interest. (Depending, of course, on whether the chicken or the egg came first.) But what was taking place was nothing less than a matter of life and death, for US service members and Iraqi military and civilians alike.

The number of American service members who have given their lives in Iraq is nearing 4,000. Nearly 30,000 more have been wounded, and countless others have suffered permanent physical or psychological damage that will haunt them, their loved ones, and this country for decades to come. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, and 4 million more have been displaced from their homes and become refugees.

Was the debate front page news? Hardly. It was hardly news at all. Here’s a brief CQ report, in case you missed the news entirely.

That’s all the more reason that the vast majority of Americans who want this senseless bloodshed to end must continue to speak out and act out, at every opportunity.

The sponsors of the two measures which were shelved again in the Senate, Sens. Russ Feingold and Harry Reid, say they will try again in April when appropriations for the war come up, even though House Democrats seem to have adopted a “wait til’ next year” strategy on Iraq.

Between now and then, let’s turn up the heat.

There are plenty of opportunities to do so in March.

Iraq Veterans Against the War will hold Winter Soldier hearings Mar. 13-16 in Washington, DC, modeled on the 1971 hearings held by Vietnam Veterans Against the War.  Here’s how IVAW describes the event:

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan – and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans’ health benefits and support.

You’ll be able to follow live audio and video links on the web, and some groups are now making plans to screen the hearings in public places across the country, too.

The next week, March 19, is the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  Will we ever forget the shock and awe when we learned we had been duped about the reasons to invade?   United for Peace and Justice, the nation’s largest antiwar coalition, is planning to mark the day:

March 19th will mark the beginning of the 6th year of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Enough is enough! We are organizing creative, nonviolent acts of civil disobedience in Washington DC to interrupt business as usual for those promoting and profiting from war and empire building. Focusing on the pillars of war, our actions will take place at multiple sites, demonstrating the real costs of war and offering visions for a more just and sustainable world, a world at peace.

Actions are bring planned in local communities as well to mark the anniversary.  

Friday, March 21, is Iraq Moratorium #7, a day to take individual or collective action to call for an end to the war and the occupation.  The Moratorium, a national grassroots movement, asks people to do something on the Third Friday of every month to disrupt their normal routine and call for an end to the war.

You’ll find lots of ideas for actions on the Moratorium website , along with a list of events on March 21 and reports, videos and photos of previous actions.  There have been more than 600 group actions under the Iraq Moratorium banner since September.

So, march in March.  Or do something, anything, besides waiting for the election.  Unless we keep the pressure on, a Democratic president and Congress may not make this a priority, either. If you doubt that, ask Nancy Pelosi what she’s doing to end the war.    

Senate takes up Feingold troop withdrawal bill


Sen. Russ Feingold’s bill calling for US troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin within 120 days is being debated by the US Senate — thanks to the Republicans who want to kill the bill but think they have an advantage in talking about Iraq.

Plus, John McCain has just said that if he can’t persuade the American people that staying in Iraq is the right course, he will lose the election.

So, on a 70-24 vote, the Senate agreed to take up Feingold’s bill.  Only 26 Democrats voted to take it up.

Feingold’s bill won’t pass, of course.  No Republican has ever actually voted for it in the past.

But it will be debated, along with amendments, all day Wednesday, apparently, the Washington Post reports:

In five previous efforts during the past 20 months, Feingold has never received even 30 votes to bring his bill to the floor for debate. Not a single Republican had supported Feingold’s withdrawal bills, which have been considered the strictest offered in terms of requiring troop withdrawals from Iraq.

This Feingold bill would mandate troop redeployments out of Iraq within 120 days of being signed into law, while allowing funds to be spent for just a few reasons there: ongoing counter-terrorist operations, protecting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, training Iraqi forces and on the actual redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.

“Keeping our troops in Iraq will not solve Iraq’s problems,” Feingold said during the debate today. “And it won’t help us address the growing threat by al-Qaeda around the world.”

Most interesting is the list of Democrats who voted against taking up the bill.  Here they are:

Baucus (D-MT)

Bayh (D-IN)

Biden (D-DE)

Bingaman (D-NM)

Carper (D-DE)

Casey (D-PA)

Conrad (D-ND)

Dorgan (D-ND)

Johnson (D-SD)

Landrieu (D-LA)

Levin (D-MI)

Lieberman (ID-CT)

Lincoln (D-AR)

McCaskill (D-MO)

Nelson (D-FL)

Nelson (D-NE)

Pryor (D-AR)

Reed (D-RI)

Salazar (D-CO)

Tester (D-MT)

Webb (D-VA)

Dems not voting:

Byrd (D-WV)

Clinton (D-NY)

Obama (D-IL)

‘Test votes’ on Iraq is a failed Dem strategy

Two votes on bringing our troops home from Iraq are scheduled for Tuesday, and MoveOn wants me to call my U.S. Senator to urge him to vote for them.

I may do that, but both votes seem pre-destined to fail.  The one that really matters is guaranteed to lose.

Both are described as “test votes,” meaning they are intended to get a reading on whether there are 60 votes, enough to prevent a filibuster.  If not, the bills go back into the drawer in some committee.

CQ Today describes the situation this way:

Democrats are not likely to muster the 60 votes needed to call up the tougher of the two, which would bar funding for Iraq deployments 120 days after enactment, with some exceptions for anti-terrorism missions, training Iraqi security forces and protecting American forces.

Four similar measures failed last year. The most recent, a Feingold amendment to an omnibus spending measure, fell by a 24-71 vote Dec. 18.

According to a Senate Democratic aide, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., “had made a prior commitment to Sen. Feingold to bring these bills up,” and agreed to do so now so Feingold would not block Senate consideration of several other measures.

A memo circulated by a Senate Republican leadership aide said the Feingold bill would mean “U.S. troops can no longer perform most of the missions that have made the surge so successful, and allowed for the political progress Iraqis have made in recent months.”

A second test vote is scheduled on the motion to proceed to another Feingold bill that would require a report within 60 days “setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

While the GOP leadership aide called that bill a politically motivated “messaging” measure, Republicans have not publicly indicated how they will vote.  

One provision in the bill would require the report to include recommendations to ensure the global deployment of U.S. troops is aimed at defeating al Qaeda and does not undermine homeland security or require frequent redeployments or extensions of deployments.

Wanna bet how those Republicans will vote?

This brings me to a strategic question that is often asked but goes unanswered:

Instead of test votes, why not schedule bills and force the Republicans to filibuster if they want to prevent them from passing?

Let the country see who’s blocking the efforts to bring our troops home and extricate this country from the bloody mess in Iraq.

Let them tie up the Senate’s business for a week, or two weeks, or however long, telling us why we need to stay in Iraq.

The present strategy allows both parties to share the blame for inaction on Iraq, while two-thirds of the voters want action.

That’s why “Congress” gets an dismal, unfavorable rating — because it’s not doing anything.  And the Democrats, by being afraid to take a strong stand, have been complicit in allowing the war and occupation to grind on.

Harry Reid, the majority “leader,” even made Feingold agree not to hold up or filibuster some other unspecified bills in return for getting a couple of “test votes.”

Meanwhile, there are reports that House Democrats don’t plan to take any action to try to end the war this year, because it “makes them look weak” when they fail.

There’s a reason for that:  They are weak.  And they are weak in the worst possible place — their backbone.

The Principle of Campaign Finance Reform

Big Ten Democrat, whom I greatly like and respect, says Barack Obama should opt out of public financing, and that he should do it now, while it is still early. Strategically, Big Tent is absolutely right. As he says, should Obama opt out now, while his opponent is Hillary Clinton, the corporate media won’t question it. Should he win the nomination, and only opt out once his opponent is John McCain, the corporate media will eviscerate him. The free pass they give him against Hillary Clinton, whom they have always despised, and cherish the thought of defeating, if not destroying, will not transfer to a runoff against St. Maverick; and it won’t matter that the Saint is utterly and completely full of shit. But I strongly disagree with the fundamental premise of Big Tent’s argument:

Unlike most good government types, I believe that until there is full public financing of political campaigns, the Democratic Party should NEVER give away an advantage when it has one.

If John McCain accepts public financing for his general election campaign, and the Democratic nominee does not, the Democratic Party will lose the moral high ground, and much credibility, on campaign finance reform. That McCain is a liar and a hypocrite won’t matter. What will matter is that the Democratic nominee will be opting out, while the Republican nominee won’t be. Many are saying we should not cede the financial lead, now that the internet and a cratering Republican Party have handed it to us, but accepting that argument would only prove that campaign finance reform was always about the politics of being financially behind, rather than about the principle of creating a politics of people. Big Tent’s ideal of full public financing will never come to be because campaign finance reform will be, effectively, dead.

As I’ve previously pointed out, John Edwards had less than half as much campaign money as did Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; and the rest of the candidates had much much less. Similarly, it’s no coincidence that Obama’s emergence as the clear Democratic frontrunner came as he vastly outspent Clinton, after Super Tuesday; and as they court the increasingly important Superdelegates, he has given more than three times as much money as has Clinton to those Superdelegates who are elected officials. Forget debates, speeches, policy statements, and stands on the issues, the Democratic nomination is being determined by nothing other than money.

Can’t defund the war? Then defund the Democrats

(Cross-posted on DailyKos, where it has really stirred up the Kossacks.)

Enough is enough.

I spent 20 years of my life working to elect Democratic candidates.  Because that’s how I made my living, and because I believed it would make a difference, I’ve also given regularly to Democratic candidates over the years.

But the list of Dems who might get a check from me just got a lot shorter, after their latest cave-in on Iraq.

If they won’t defund the war, maybe it’s time to defund the Democrats.

There are 70 billion reasons to quit giving — one for every dollar they just appropriated for the Iraq war and occupation.  

Writing it that way makes it seem like too little.  This is better:  $70,000.000,000.00.  That’s how I’d use it in a campaign commercial against one of them in a Democratic primary.

No matter how you write it, it is a lot of money.

Did I mention that it’s with no strings attached?  No requirements to even begin to plan for troop withdrawal.  Nada.  Nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.

Seventy billion.


Five Democrats didn’t vote: Iraq War fudning and Feingold/Reid w/poll

Gosh, oh gee.  You would think that Iraq funding would be worth voting on.  You would think that Feingold/Reid would be voting on.  You would think that standing up to Dick and W would be worth voting on.

If you’re a Senator and running for President, you’d think that they would think these issues would be worth voting on.

You’d be wrong!

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