One Senator Says 'Enough'

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Wednesday, June 25, 2008; 1:17 PM

A senior Democratic statesman took to the Senate floor yesterday and delivered a jeremiad against President Bush and his lawlessness the likes of which I'm not sure we've ever heard there before.

What set off Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) was the warrantless surveillance bill sent over from the House this week and seemingly assured of passage in the Senate. The bill significantly broadens Bush's spying powers and essentially guarantees civil-lawsuit immunity for the telecommunications companies that cooperated in earlier surveillance efforts.

But to Dodd, it's just the latest indignity from a president who has come to expect a corrupted political system to jettison the rule of law on his say-so.

"Retroactive immunity is on the table today; but also at issue is the entire ideology that justifies it, the same ideology that defends torture and executive lawlessness," Dodd said.

Here is the text and video of his speech.

"If we pass this legislation, the Senate will ratify a domestic spying regime that has already concentrated far too much unaccountable power in the president's hands and will place the telecommunications companies above the law," he said.

"[B]y short-circuiting the judicial process we are sending a dangerous signal to future generations. They see us establishing a precedent that Congress can -- and will -- provide immunity to potential law breakers, if they are 'important' enough. . . .

"I am here today because with offense after another after another, I believe it is long past time to say: 'enough.'

"I am here today because of a pattern -- a pattern of abuse against civil liberties and the rule of law. Against the Constitution -- of which we are custodians, temporary though that status may be. . . .

"I am here today because warrantless wiretapping is merely the latest link in a long chain of abuses. . . .

"What is at stake is nothing less than equal justice -- justice that makes no exceptions. What is at stake is an open debate on security and liberty. . . .

"This bill does not say, 'Trust the American people; Trust the courts and judges and juries to come to just decisions.' Retroactive immunity sends a message that is crystal clear. . . .

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