Congressional Record: October 26, 2007 (Senate)
Page S13472-S13473


  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, for 6 years the President has demonstrated 
time and again that he doesn't respect the role of Congress, nor does 
he respect the rule of law. It is the latter point that I want to 
address this morning because it is the rule of law which draws us all 
together, regardless of politics, ideology, or party. It is the rule of 
law, not of men, which we swear to uphold when we take the oath of 
office in this Chamber, as Members do in the other Chamber, and 
certainly as the President does on January 20 every 4 years.
  For 6 years this President has used scare tactics to prevent the 
Congress from reining in his abuse of authority. A case in point is the 
current direction in which this body appears to be headed as we prepare 
to reform and extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
  Many of the unprecedented rollbacks to the rule of law by this 
administration have been made in the name of national security.
  The Bush administration has relentlessly focused our Nation's 
resources and manpower on a war of choice in Iraq. That ill-conceived 
war has broken our military, squandered our resources, and emboldened 
our enemies.
  The President's wholesale disregard of the rule of law has compounded 
the damage done in Iraq, made our Nation less secure, and as a direct 
consequence of these acts, we are far less secure, far more vulnerable, 
and certainly far more isolated in the world today.
  Consider the scandal at Abu Ghraib, where Iraqi prisoners were 
subjected to inhumane, humiliating acts by U.S. personnel charged with 
guarding them.
  Consider Guantanamo Bay. Rather than helping to protect the Nation by 
aggressively prosecuting prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, these individuals 
have instead become the symbol of our weakened moral standing in the 
world. Who would have ever imagined it?
  Consider the secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency 
and the practice of extraordinary rendition that allows them to evade 
U.S. law regarding torture.

[[Page S13473]]

  Consider the shameful actions of our outgoing Attorney General who 
politicized prosecutions in the U.S. Attorney's Office, who was more 
committed to serving the President who appointed him than laws he was 
sworn to uphold as Attorney General.
  Consider the Military Commissions Act, a law that allows evidence 
obtained through torture to be admitted into evidence.
  It denies individuals the right to counsel.
  It denies them the right to invoke the Geneva Conventions.
  And it denies them the single most important and effective safeguard 
of liberty man has ever known, the right of habeas corpus, permitting 
prisoners to be brought before a court to determine whether their 
detainment is lawful.
  Warrantless wiretapping, torture, the list goes on.
  Each of these policies share two things in common.
  First, they have severely weakened our ability to prosecute the 
global war on terrorism, if for no other reason than they have made it 
harder, if not impossible, to build the kind of international support 
and cooperation we absolutely need to succeed in our efforts against 
stateless terrorism.
  And second, each has only been possible because the U.S. Congress has 
not been able to stop the President in his unprecedented expansion of 
executive power, although, I might add, some in this body have 
certainly tried.
  Whether these policies were explicitly authorized is beside the 
point. In every instance, Congress has been unable to hold this 
administration to account for violating the rule of law and our 
Constitution. In each instance, Republicans in the Congress have 
prevented this body from telling this administration that a state of 
war is not a blank check.
  And those are not my words. Those are the words of Supreme Court 
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, nominated by President Ronald Reagan.
  And today, it appears that we are prepared to consider the proposed 
renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law that 
whatever form it eventually takes will almost certainly permit the Bush 
administration to broadly eavesdrop on American citizens.
  Legislation, as currently drafted, that would grant retroactive 
immunity to telecommunications companies that helped this 
administration violate the civil liberties of Americans and the law of 
this Nation.
  While it may be true that the proposed legislation is an improvement 
over existing law, it remains fundamentally flawed because it fails to 
protect the privacy rights of Americans or hold the Executive or the 
private sector accountable if they choose to ignore the law.
  That is why I will not stand on the floor of the Senate and be silent 
about the direction we are about to take.
  It is time to say: No more.
  No more trampling on our Constitution.
  No more excusing those who violate the rule of law. These are 
fundamental, basic, eternal principles. They have been around, some of 
them, for as long as the Magna Carta.
  They are enduring.
  What they are not is temporary. And what we do not do in a time where 
our country is at risk is abandon them.
  My father served as executive trial counsel at the Nuremberg trials 
of Nazi war criminals in 1945 and 1946.
  What America accomplished at those historic trials was not a foregone 
conclusion. It took courage. When Joseph Stalin and even a leader as 
great and noble as Winston Churchill wanted to simply execute the Nazi 
leaders, we didn't back down in this country from our belief that these 
men, as terrible as they were--some of the worst violators in the court 
of history of mankind--ought to have a trial. We did not give in to 
  As then, the issue before us today is the same.
  Does America stand for all that is still right with our world or do 
we retreat in fear?
  Do we stand for justice that secures America or do we act out of 
vengeance that weakens us?
  I am well aware this issue is seen as political. I believe Democrats 
were elected to help strengthen our Nation, elected to help restore our 
standing in the world.
  I believe we were elected to ensure that this Nation adheres to the 
rule of law and to stop the administration's assault on our 
  But the rule of law is not the province of any one political party. 
It is the province of each and every one of us as American citizens, on 
our watch and our generation, to make sure we are safer because of its 
inviolable provisions.
  Mr. President, I know this bill has not been reported out of the 
Judiciary Committee yet.
  But I am here today because if I have learned anything in my 26 years 
in this body, particularly over the last 7 years, it is that if you 
wait until the end to voice your concerns, you will have waited too 
long. That is why I have written the majority leader informing him that 
I will object to any effort to bring the legislation to the Senate 
floor for consideration.
  I hope my colleague, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator 
Leahy is able to remove this language from the FISA bill. Pat Leahy is 
as strong a defender of the Constitution as any Member of this body.
  But if he is unable to do so, I am prepared to filibuster this bill.
  President Bush is right about one thing: The debate is about security 
but not in the way he imagines it.
  He believes we have to give up certain rights to be safe.
  I believe the choice between moral authority and security is a false 
  I believe it is precisely when you stand up and protect your rights 
that you become stronger, not weaker, as a nation.
  The damage that was done to our country on 9/11 was stunning. It 
changed the world forever.
  But when you start diminishing our rights as a people, you compound 
that tragedy. You cannot protect America in the long run if you fail to 
protect our Constitution. It is that simple.
  History will likely judge this President harshly for his war of 
choice and for fighting it with a disregard for our most cherished 
  But history is about tomorrow. We must act today and stand up for the 
Constitution and the rule of law.
  Mr. President, this is the moment. At long last, let us rise up to 
  I urge my colleagues to join me in this effort.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to be recognized 
as in morning business for such time as I shall consume.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senate is in morning business.
  The Senator from Oklahoma.