Sen. Feingold: FISA a mistake, Bush broke the law
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
by Amy Weiss
In a streaming press conference hosted by The Washington Note, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) outlined the recent Feingold-Hagel bill proposing the creation of an independent intelligence commission and also admitted his outrage at the revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that passed the House last week and is expected to pass the Senate.
After explaining the need for a commission to assess and improve intelligence gathering procedures, Sen. Feingold took questions that immediately went to FISA. When asked what he thought about Republicans and many Democrats willing to sign the bill, Feingold expressed deep disappointment and frustration.
"This legislation gets it totally wrong," he said. He acknowledged that the primary source of media attention has been immunity for the telecommunications companies, something he calls a "farce."
He feels the rest of the bill, however, is equally if not more reprehensible.
"The president ran an illegal program -- equivalent to an impeachable offense," he said, later adding, "I'm blue in the face already trying to tell people this has happened to you."
Feingold continued to express his contempt for the bill, and his aggravation with many "rank and file" Democrats who approved it. He wouldn't speak directly to the possibility of a filibuster, but said he and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) planned on spending a lot of time on the Senate floor talking about the problems with FISA and are "not going to let it quickly pass."
He responded to one question referencing an op-ed piece he wrote in Friday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He said he hopes the next president will be Barack Obama, but either way he hopes the next administration will return to an equal executive branch as the founders intended and roll back some of the outrageous policies of the Bush Administration.
In the op-ed, he wrote:
"The speech we hear in January, I hope, will be many things: honest, hopeful, inspirational. But above all, I hope it will be candid about the need to reverse the Bush administration's abuse of executive power and to uphold the presidential oath of office that our framers crafted so simply and so well."
In response to a question that addressed statements that claim this FISA deal is in fact a compromise and an improvement in many areas, Feingold responded: "Anybody who says this is an okay bill, I question if they've even read it."
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