Five Important Minutes with Russ Feingold on FISA and Imperial Powers of the Presidency

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The “Media Consortium” via correspondent and former New America Foundation research associate Brian Beutler posted this short clip of three questions posed to Senator Russ Feingold during his recent talk before the New America Foundation.
He addresses FISA and also articulates concerns that an Obama presidency may not walk back the many powers usurped by the Executive Branch during the George W. Bush administration.
It’s an important five minutes of video.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

21 comments on “Five Important Minutes with Russ Feingold on FISA and Imperial Powers of the Presidency

  1. MSP says:

    Look, all csndidates filp flop. The truth that Obama is going to do and say anything to get elected makes him absolutely no better or even worse than any other candidate. The problem is that Obama’s sandals have been so eggregious and impossible to defend. Switch Flop on FISA; repulsive; Switch flop upon public financing; hypocritical; flip washout on NAFTA; silly. Obama has no guts. When he’s chosen, get ready for the next flip washout; Iraq. Is he going to have the cajones to drag out and watch the country collapse; not a opportunity. When he or she decides to interrupt his guarantee and defer the pull out he promised, we’ll obtain exactly the same kind of excuse he or she gave all of us about FISA.

    Reply

  2. Paul Norheim says:

    To me this seems like a rather self destructive grass roots
    movement. If the republicans win this election after eight years
    with Bush, because a few thousand (or even millions of) Hillary
    voters in some states detest Obama, I`ll be lost for words.

    Reply

  3. WigWag says:

    Paul, I don’t like McCain. I strongly dislike him. I don’t want him to be Presdident. His domestic policies are way too conservative for me and I do not support his foreign policy (which I agree is both too 20th century and too influenced by neocons). Besides, I think he is too old for the job.
    I don’t hate Obama. You know what Ghandi said about hate, he said, “hate is the subtleist form of violence.” I think Obama is too inexperienced to be President, I think he’s a phony (as his FISA position demonstrates) and unlike McCain (who generally says what he thinks so you know where he stands)Obama is a hypocrite. His general election campaign is not even 2 weeks old and the flip flops on campaign expenditures and FISA are two examples. These are not small flip flops on unimportant issues. They are flip flops on two issues of great and enduring interest to most Democrats.
    My reaction to Obama is more intense than to McCain because I am a Democrat. I never expected to like the Republican nominee. In past elections I never have and in this election I don’t. I expected to like the Democratic nominee. Even if Cliinton didn’t win, I would have hoped that whomever was nominated would be okay. I don’t think Obama is acceptable for all the reasons sited above, and like many Democrats, I’m very very unhappy about it.
    By the way, my feeling is shared by millions of Democrats. There is already a viral movement of Democrats unhappy with Obama sprouting up on the internet and other places. These Democrats are raising money to run anti-Obama TV commercials, radio ads, etc. It’s an incipient grass roots movement and it’s beginning to get alot of attention on American TV. Millions of Democrats don’t think Obama will be a good president and they are letting their feelings be known. Could this derail Obama in the general election; who knows? So far, in the swing states the polls show him winning about 75 percent of former Clinton supporters. Is this enough for him to win those states? It’s unclear. As the campaign contiues will he get more of these voters to support him or will McCain be successful in winning them over; without a crystal ball, it’s hard to say. If you are at all interested in this you can go to a website called “justsaynodeal” The site lists scores of anti-Obama websites run by angry democrats. Newspapers and television news shows have reported that these sites are getting millions of hits a day. What all this means in the end, I don’t know. But it certainly means that my feelings about this election that seem so strange to you, are in fact not idiosyncratic at all.
    For primarily domestic reasons but also for other reasons, I don’t like the direction that Obama has taken the party that I’ve belonged to for my entire adult life, but that doesn’t mean I hate him. But it shouldn’t be hard to understand why Democrats are more vociferous in complaining a candidate whom they believe has hijacked their own party than complaining about a candidate from a party they never expected to support.
    As for Iraq, I readily admit that it’s impossible to know what will happen in the future. But I do think that my speculation that McCain will get the US out of Iraq at least as fast or faster than Obama is reasonable. Obama’s inexperience could make him vulnerable to bullying by the military establishment. McCain’s personal experience in war might motivate him to end the Iraq imbroglio as soon as possible.
    I don’t want to vote for McCain and I don’t want to vote for Obama. But I don’t hate either of them. I just think they’re both awful candidates.

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  4. Paul Norheim says:

    Well, you must have been surprised yourself, when you figured
    out this, weren`t you, WigWag?
    I mean: it`s not likely that it has even occurred to McCain
    himself that he would get the soldiers out of Iraq before
    Obama!!??
    The essence of much of what you`ve been saying for weeks is
    that every candidate is just as bad as the other – and somehow
    this fact makes Obama MUCH worse than any of them
    combined.
    I don`t buy this. And I doubt that any readers here are buying
    it. I only see two alternatives.
    1) You hate Obama (a highly irrational position).
    2) You`re a fan of McCain (a rational, arguable position).
    See what I mean?
    If your claim about who would get America out of Iraq first was
    based on Obama hate, I feel sorry for you. If it was one of your
    first steps to admit that you are pro McCain – than I should
    wish that you had confirmed that months ago.

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  5. WigWag says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts, Paul. It’s Steve’s secret captcha torture device again.

    Reply

  6. WigWag says:

    Paul, my personal opinion is that Obama doesn’t actually believe in anything. He will be easily manipulated by the military and his lack of experience will make him reluctant to challenge a general like Petreus.
    McCain has been shot at, maimed and imprisoned in a foreign war. It is easy to envision how he will be more apt and capable of taking the heat for withdrawing than Obama will.
    Obviously there’s no way to know for sure. But on balance, if McCain is President, I think the U.S. will be out of Iraq faster than if Obama is President.
    Obviously it’s a minority view. Although you have to admit that Obama’s behavior vis a vis FISA must make you think twice.

    Reply

  7. WigWag says:

    Paul, my personal opinion is that Obama doesn’t actually believe in anything. He will be easily manipulated by the military and his lack of experience will make him reluctant to challenge a general like Petreus.
    McCain has been shot at, maimed and imprisoned in a foreign war. It is easy to envision how he will be more apt and capable of taking the heat for withdrawing than Obama will.
    Obviously there’s no way to know for sure. But on balance, if McCain is President, I think the U.S. will be out of Iraq faster than if Obama is President.
    Obviously it’s a minority view. Although you have to admit that Obama’s behavior vis a vis FISA must make you think twice.

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    “If getting out of Iraq is your highest priority, you’re best bet is to
    vote for McCain.”
    Words of wisdom, WigWag. What inspired you to such a prophetic
    insight?

    Reply

  9. WigWag says:

    Robert,
    Look, all csndidates filp flop. The fact that Obama will do and say anything to get elected makes him no better or worse than any other candidate. The problem is that Obama’s flip flops have been so eggregious and impossible to defend. Flip Flop on FISA; repulsive; Flip flop on public financing; hypocritical; flip flop on NAFTA; stupid. Obama has no guts. When he’s elected, get ready for the next flip flop; Iraq. Will he have the cajones to pull out and watch the country collapse; not a chance. When he decides to break his promise and defer the pull out he promised, we’ll get exactly the same kind of excuse he gave us about FISA.
    If getting out of Iraq is your highest priority, you’re best bet is to vote for McCain.

    Reply

  10. Robert Morrow says:

    Look at how quishy Obama got on the FISA bill …
    just when you were hoping for CHANGE … you get the same old same old.

    Reply

  11. Mr.Murder says:

    So the secret police powers of Dubya will go to a man who got where he is by removing Democrats from ballots or halving votes against him by refusin to count them….
    that sounds like change I don’t want to believe in.

    Reply

  12. Kathleen says:

    Dirk… thank you for reminding me of this…. tres importante.. Wasn’t bulk monitoring of electronic comunications the subject of that midnight meeting in John Ashcroft’s hospital room, with Alberto Gonzales, Andrew Card and James Comey? According to Christopher Ketchum, who interviewed James Comey,for his article the Last Roundup, the point of contention was his and Ashcroft’s refusal to sign the FISA bill with the inclusion of the privision for monitoring electronic communications and updating the databases every 45 days. It was this provision, as it pertains to the COG (continuity of gov’t) plans that James Comey said gives him a sense of impending Martial Law.
    Meeee tooooo.

    Reply

  13. Dirk says:

    While the issue of retroactive immunity is important, it overshadows the much more insidious parts of the FISA bill:
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_06/013956.php
    “…The new bill extends this to a week, allows the surveillance to continue during appeals, and permits the government to use any of the information it collects even if the FISA court eventually rules that the tap is unlawful. This pretty obviously opens the door to some fairly serious abuse in the future.
    Second, and more fundamentally, the bill gives wholesale approval for NSA to conduct bulk monitoring of electronic communications (primarily email and phone calls). This is the issue that catapulted FISA into prominence in the first place, and it’s getting surprisingly little attention this time around. As near as I can tell, this is because bulk monitoring is now widely accepted on both sides of the aisle…”

    Reply

  14. Zathras says:

    Here’s what I noticed about this 5 minutes of video: discussion of executive authority, and of Sen. Feingold’s hope that the next President would make less extensive claims of executive authority — and no discussion whatever of Congressional prerogatives.
    Constitutional checks and balances don’t work automatically. Any President, regardless of party, will end up expanding the reach of the agencies he cares most about if Congress lets him (something similar applies to the judiciary). This isn’t really a criticism of Sen. Feingold; while Democratic opposition to President Bush was sporadic and ineffectual for most of the last seven years, Bush enjoyed nearly unanimous and uncritical support from Republicans in both houses. He was their leader, not just the President, and they were most anxious not to inconvenience him by making any trouble about Congressional prerogatives. Washington reality is that the minority party has few restrictions on what it can say, but many restrictions on what it can do — especially if the majority party cares only about its instructions from the White House.
    I would point out that in the past, assertions of Congressional rights (especially in the Senate) have often been the means by which members of the opposition party have made common cause with members of the President’s party to restrain exercises of executive power they thought wrong. Feingold made more of an appeal to the next President not to ask for so much starting next year, even while admitting that he saw a good chance that this wouldn’t happen.

    Reply

  15. WigWag says:

    The FISA Bill may or may not be back in 2009. Once retroactive immunity is given, it cannot be taken back. To do so would be an unconstitutional ex post facto violation. If retroactive immunity is not stopped now, the harm will not be undone.

    Reply

  16. Linda says:

    POA did post on another thread that Feingold and Dodd are going to try to filibuster it as well as do amendment to deny telecoms immunity (that part Obama does support) and urged people to contact their Senators. And that is important–even if they probably are going to fail because the issue isn’t going away and will be back in 2009.

    Reply

  17. WigWag says:

    Thank goodness for Senator Feingold.
    Senator Obama is his party’s standard bearer. He’s calling the shots. He’s virtually moved the entire DNC to Chicago. If he said to Senate Majority Leader Reid, “Harry, remove this from the floor; we can vote on it after the November election” Harry Reid would comply in a moment. Alternatively, a threat by Senator Obama to join Dodd and Feingold in a filibuster of the FISA bill would insure that a vote never took place.
    The FISA Bill gives Senator Obama exactly what he’s looking for, a Sister Souljah moment. While I kind of liked Senator Obama’s speech to AIPAC, I admit that it showed no political courage at all. It was another Sister Souljah moment. The Obama campaign is going to be a series of Sister Souljah moments. Regardless of your political persuasion, you might as well get used to it.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Listen people, I’m tellin’ ya. If you cannot see the inexplicability of same media that has fellated George Bush and Dick Cheney for eight years suddenly creating this wonder boy Obama, than I could hit ya up side the head with a baseball bat and you still wouldn’t get it.
    Truth be told, Obama scares the shit outa me.

    Reply

  19. DonS says:

    Not nearly so impressive is Mr.Play-it-safe Obama’s rendition of a typical pol. They are all politicians, but the enormity of this gutting of the 4th amendment cannot possibly be lost on a man of the intelligence and [Harvard trained] legal understanding of Obama. If I didn’t hear it verbatim I would have a hard time believing there could be anything that could make such an individual sell out integrity so easily.
    http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/06/obama_on_fisa_telecom_immunity.php
    This is getting to be a more depressing and scary country every day. The right has coopted the center. Its a pretty horrible feeling to be living in a country slipping further to the right all the time.

    Reply

  20. rmp says:

    Thank you Steve. You’re right! That was an important 5 minutes. I only wish that you didn’t have to be a news junkie to find out about this.

    Reply

  21. samuel burke says:

    youre going to lose your precious country boys and girls…and
    the press just keeps talking about salacious nonsense and the
    nation just walks around as if nothing really important is going
    on….all we need is another situation where the u.s govt can use
    the excuse of martial law to protect us from the bogeyman.
    the media in america sucks…on purpose.

    Reply

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