by Arlen Parsa
I’ll be liveblogging in this thread, check thedailybackground.com for updates (it won’t be updated in the RSS feed). All times are in EST. Speech no longer than 25 minutes.
4:11 Senator Frist takes the floor with objection. He says he is disturbed by what is about to take place. He says that the move for censure is a political stunt, claims that the NSA program is vital, constitutional, and lawful. Frist asks for a vote on censure tonight, to get it out of the way and stifle for further debate. He asks for unanimous consent, does not receive it. Objections are given, Frist then tries to set the vote until tomorrow. Again, objection. Frist leaves saying he would personally be ready to vote.
4:15 Senator Feingold tries to take the floor. There is some debate about under what circumstances Feingold is to be recognized.
4:18 Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid takes the floor and asks that Feingold be given time to speak. It appears that the Frist is trying to stifle the amount of time that Feingold will speak, less than the 25 minutes he is requesting, by granting him time under a debate on the budget resolution which was previously being discussed, in order to take time away from that. Reid criticizes Frist’s effort to abbreviate debate on both the Feingold’s resolution and the budget discussion
4:26 Senator Feingold finally takes the floor, after Frist yaps more about how the President is wonderful. Specter asks for 25 minutes after Feingold speaks. This appears to be a tentative rebuttal of some sort.
4:26 Senator Feingold is interuppted by Senator Specter who asks for a copy of Feingold’s resolution, which is supplied from the latter. Feingold starts over again.
4:28 Feingold asserts that “this President has done wrong” and that “this [Senate] body must do right”… also notes that the Senate does not know all the details of the President’s conduct. Says rejecting a full Senate investigation into the wiretapping is irresponsible.
4:34 Feingold appears to be gaining his own now, and speaks more loudly and more assertively. Talks about the war in Iraq, and says that the Senate gave its consent and that is not why Feingold wants the President censured. He’s saying now that this censure resolution is about wiretapping, how the President did not give its consent.
4:36 Feingold addresses the fact that the President lied to the American public about wiretapping and claiming that wiretaps were still required under FISA, but they aren’t. Cites several examples when the President outright lied to the public about this.
4:38 Feingold points out the hypocricy of the Administration, talking about how wiretapping via FISA is unreasonable, and then how it has used FISA thousands of times at the same time.
4:41 Feingold asserts that the Senate authorized military force in Afghanistan, not anything regarding wiretaps, says that it’s obvious and that the theory is “bogus”
4:44 Feingold says that it’s one thing to make arguments that have no basis in the law. It’s another thing, he continues, much worse, to make misleading statements about what previous Presidents have done regarding wiretapping. Says that nobody in the Administration can think of a single example of wiretapping which has happened outside of FISA, after the Administration has suggested that there have been.
4:47 Senator Feingold is wrapping up now. Asserts that even more troubling than the arguments that he has made, is that the President has been asserting that the reason the American people should trust him, is merely because of the office he holds. “The President has violated the law, and Congress must respond”
4:50 Feingold says (without naming names) that Frist is horribly wrong, and that this is not a bad sign to enemies to discuss censure. He says that what would be horribly horribly wrong, is that if Congress was too afraid to punish the President right now. Closing, Feingold says: “In our system of government, no-one, not even the President is above the law” Yeilds the floor.
4:52 Specter takes the floor. Says subject matter is worth debate. Wants Feingold to stay on the floor, and asks him to return to debate with him. Describes Feingold’s speech as a “long sollioquy”.
4:54 Specter says that although he agrees with many of the statements made in Feingold’s resolution, he thinks the censure resolution is “way over the top”. Feingold doesn’t seem to be returning.
4:58 Specter seems to be saying that the President has the power to do what he is doing, under the Constitution. He says that the President’s constitutional rights are above statute (FISA). Specter says that if Attorney General Gonzales is correct, then the President is legally okay.
5:00 Specter is basically saying that Article 2 of the Consitution superceeds any laws that the President may have broken. Specter says either the President should brief the Senate and House intelligence committee, or ask them to change laws about briefing, which require them to do so. He says there should be no in between. He says regarding not leaking– yes, Congress leaks, but that the White House leaks too, and neither have a perfect record.
5:04 Specter conceeds that he doesn’t “know what the [NSA] program is” and that Gonzales wouldn’t tell him at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings.
5:06 Senator Specter pulls out some papers after asking for a time-check, and he’s going to talk about previous use of the 4th Amendment, blah blah blah. Historical stuff that doesn’t seem to have bearing on the subject in order to fill up the rest of his 25 minutes time.
That’s it for liveblogging. But I’ll have a roundup of analysis coverage in coming hours. Meanwhile, posting will be normal.