Think Progress has some video and a transcript of Rep. Joe Sestak’s speech at CAP yesterday. And I wanted to highlight a particular aspect of his speech. Sestak voted against the abomination of a FISA bill, and he had this to say about how the entire mess came about:
How could we have not have stood up for rights of civil liberties while ensuring the proper ability to go and listen, and just stayed during the recess if necessary. And I understand that our leadership in the caucus has to worry about how the public will perceive it, but I also know this, that ultimately, we have to, as Benjamin Franklin said, be concerned that those who give up…liberty in the name security, deserve neither liberty or security. This is a time that I strongly believe, we should have stood up and said no. Attorney General Gonzales, we’re not going to let you decide the guidelines upon which you’ll listen in on Americans….
Sestak noted that the administration had rejected a compromise bill worked out between Congressional leaders and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell. “We made the three major changes that [McConnell] wanted,” said Sestak. “The issue here is they just don’t want to come to the FISA court. That’s enough to tell me we need them to.”
“We had voted for a bill the evening before that had actually brought together a proper balance of the civil liberties of our citizens,” said Sestak. “We should have brought that bill up Saturday, instead of the Senate bill…we could have gotten it the next morning under majority votes. And that would have meant probably that we had to stay in session this week, and that would have forced the Senate to come back and deal with it.”… (emphasis mine)
And there you have it. In case you needed extra incentive as to why public accountability on this issue is important, here it is: expedience should never, ever take precedence over standing up for our civil liberties and the Constitution. Period.
I’m still working on digging out the details on how all of this could possibly have happened the way it did, but the more I dig in, the more the scenario that Jane and Matt laid out is looking pretty spot on — and it makes me more determined than ever to make certain that our elected “leadership” finds out just how wrong that is. From every single one of us. Because “leadership” ought to mean that you think more than one move ahead, and don’t allow yourself to get snookered by a bunch of lying neoconmen on a legislative bender.
So, what are you doing today to hold your elected officials accountable? Do tell…
UPDATE: Pulling this from Jane up from the comments:
Anybody have info on he public appearances of Reid, Pelosi, Emanuel, Hoyer or Clyburn during recess, we’re still looking (I know Pelosi’s going to be in CT for Chris Murphy and Reid has a Town Hall coming up on the 15th, but that’s it so far.)