Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Has Senator Bingaman Gotten His Civil Liberties Groove Back?

If you're like me, your response to the words "Senator Jeff Bingaman" are usually: "meh". Although I'll admit I've never actually said the word "meh", that's just seems to be the latest agreed upon version of what was until recently "whatever".

Bingaman, "meh".

I know from the "liberal" perspective Bingaman has been better than chopped liver (i.e., Domenici), but rarely exciting and sometimes simply frustrating. True to this, it appeared Sen. Bingaman was going to go along with the FISA "compromise" murkily making its way through Congress last week.

Now comes news (well, it's actually been around for a few days, but I'm just now starting to really understand it) that Senator Bingaman has an amendment to the FISA legislation that would address one (of many) problem(s) with it, namely the idea of "retroactive telecom immunity" for all the blatantly unconstitutional things the Bush Administration asked of and was slavishly granted in years past regarding phone records.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) puts it:
EFF has signed an open letter in support of the Bingaman Amendment [PDF] along with the ACLU and eleven other civil liberties organizations, and urges all members of the Senate who care about civil liberties and the rule of law to champion it. The amendment wouldn't cure all of the problems with the bill, and is no replacement for a strong no vote on final passage, but at this moment it looks to be the last best shot at saving the litigation against the telcos from an early death.
To which I say, "right on" (early 1970s "Sesame Street" usage variation). Good on Senator Bingaman even if:
  1. The co-sponsors of this amendment include Sen. Arlen Specter. Shudder...shudder. Man, the things you gotta do to get things done in the U.S. Senate. Creepy.
  2. The FISA legislation is SO complicated that I'm still not sure this is the way to go here, and I'm not so terribly sure if the "cool" Senators (Feingold, especially) know how to best handle the situation either.
  3. We're all really, when it gets down to it, waiting for the electoral process to put a gigantic microfiber pillow down on the Bush Administration's aged, Constitution-bashing head and asphyxiate the pernicious bastard. 201 days to go!!!!
  4. The Bingaman amendment and much of the post-Bush constitutional cleanup will involve audits by entities like "Inspector General", which will really suck if this is the Department of Justice "Inspector General" because BushCo has so poisoned agencies like DOJ that getting traction on silly things like "The Constitution" ain't gonna be happening for at least a decade.
Still, "right on" Senator Bingaman, and I take back some of the bad things and "meh" (see point above) that I've said/thought about you over the years. Now about that offshore drilling....


barb said...

"meh" - I like it. An excellent addition to my political vocabulary. And the sound is moosic to my ears.

Kelsey Atherton said...

well that's exciting.