February 12, 2008
Statement of Senator Webb on FISA Passage in Senate
“There were a number of measures brought before the Senate today that I believed could have improved the FISA bill which passed overwhelmingly tonight. This is a complex law. It becomes imperative that we look for ways to both keep our nation safe from further terrorist attacks and ensure that our government’s surveillance is conducted in a legal manner that comports with the U.S. Constitution.
“Senators Feingold, Tester and I spent two months working to construct and introduce an amendment designed to add further safeguards against Executive Branch surveillance on innocent Americans. I believe the amendment best answered the call of Americans who have been demanding a proper system of checks and balances for our government’s surveillance program. Our amendment regrettably failed this afternoon.
“I also supported two amendments which sought to limit immunity for telephone companies in proper situations. These amendments would have allowed consumers to move forward with legal action in certain situations, for example where companies have acted in bad faith in aiding government surveillance. Unfortunately, both of these amendments failed as well.“Our current FISA bill expires in two days. As someone who has decades of experience in dealing with national security matters and classified intelligence, I believed it was necessary to implement a surveillance program that provides professionals an updated set of tools to properly respond to terrorist threats. However, I plan to urge my colleagues who sit on the Senate-House conference committee to adopt House provisions that better protect Americans from Executive branch overreach.”
I'm sitting here scratching my head. Surely, Jim Webb understood that if his preferred version of the FISA bill had passed Bush was going to veto it. Bush's veto would have resulted in our nation being unprotected. So why would Jim Webb vote "YES" on such a flawed bill to "protect" us? I want to be protected from corrupt, tainted, anti-constitutional bills that are making my country as a democracy totally unrecognizable.
I have put a lot of my trust in Senator Webb as the man who can fight for me in the Senate. I still believe that no one can buy Senator Webb...a RARE asset in our Congress these days. But wasn't these one of those times to either vote no or fight? I have phoned Senator Webb on this matter. I am hoping that someone from his office will be able to explain to me why did Webb choose to vote yes instead of registering a no vote on this bill?
I am pleased that Senator Webb has written to the members of the Senate/House sub committee that must reconcile the Senate and House versions of the bill. Webb is urging that the House version be adopted which does not grant retroactive immunity. I have to ask the question--Why should these Senators hold firm and push the House bill version forward when Senator Webb himself "gave in" and approved Bush/Cheney's dream come true version??
I am so sick of having a President who puts his ego and his power trip above national security, my security, in order to threaten Congress to do his bidding. President Bush is basically saying it's my way or there will be NO SECURITY and the terrorists will do what they will. Let's be clear folks.....retroactive immunity is protecting law breakers and is not necessary in any way, shape, or form, for a "legal" wireless surveillance program to be implemented.
How do "yes" votes like this FISA bill protect me from a White House that continues to control every branch of my government with no restraints or consequences? (Why are the most powerless in our society ending up being the ones forced to deal with the heaviest consequences?) When will Congress represent us and do what is needed to put a stop to the machiavellian process that enables the White House to control every branch of our government with no restraints and no consequences?
In the meantime FISA's final form is in the following hands-- Sen Jay Rockefeller, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Sen Patrick Leahy, Rep John Conyers, Sen Kit Bond, Rep Peter Hoekstra, Sen Arlen Specter, and Rep Lamar Smith. Looks like I'll have my hands full taking action via phone and email. I do not get any pay or benefits for my patriotic services to my country. Hopefully others will also be voicing their own objections to this abhorrent retroactive immunity clause that provides the curtain for Bush and Cheney to hide their illegal actions behind.