I love that I get to have Barbara Boxer as my senator. She did me proud this week, with her senate floor statement:

Senate Floor Statement of Senator Boxer
Boxer Statement on FISA Bill

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One of the most basic tenets of our freedom is justice, and at the heart of justice lies the search for truth.

Washington, DC — U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer today made the following statement on the floor of the Senate regarding the FISA bill:

Throughout history, whenever the United States government has violated the trust of the American people, we have always worked to regain that trust by seeking the truth and allowing for a full examination of the abuses of government power.

In 1975, the Church Committee–which would later become the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence–looked into allegations of covert and illegal spying by the federal government on Americans.

What did the Committee find?  The Committee found that the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, and the CIA had engaged in spying on the political activities of American citizens.

As a result, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, setting up a new court with authority to approve electronic surveillance on a case-by-case basis.

But in late 2005, we learned that the U.S. government had again violated the trust of the American people when the New York Times published a story exposing a warrantless surveillance program authorized by President Bush shortly after 9/11.  

Since that time, Congress and the American people have been grappling with the disclosure and working, with absolutely no help from the Bush Administration, to find out exactly what happened.  

Unfortunately, what we have before us today is a bill that would not only deny the Court the ability to finally make a judicial determination as to the legality of the NSA program but would effectively guarantee immunity for the telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Administration and violated the privacy of their customers.

Now, I would support granting the telecom companies indemnification, but this immunity provision blocks us from finding the truth.  

I know that many of my colleagues in the Senate think we know enough about this program.

But we do not know enough.  The Bush Administration trampled on the Constitution, and we are not doing anything in this bill to provide accountability.

This bill goes along with the premise that we hold up the Constitution when it suits us, and we set it aside when it hinders what we want to do.

Simply put, this bill is a fig leaf that attempts to hide the truth about the warrantless surveillance program at the expense of the rights of our citizens.

And if we vote for it today, we are perpetuating a cover-up.  

I want to be clear – I support giving our government every tool necessary to track down terrorists and protect our citizens.

I voted to go after al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, and I believe it is the responsibility of the Congress to provide all of the tools necessary to fight terrorism and protect the American people.

But we have another responsibility, I believe, of equal importance; and that is our responsibility to uphold the Constitution and the rights of our citizens.

While there have been improvements to Title I in the bill before us, the provisions in Title II that effectively grant immunity and block the Courts from moving forward and learning whose privacy was violated, simply put, undermine any improvements that were made to this bill.  

These are extraordinary and difficult times.  Our sons and daughters were sent to Iraq by our President to fight for our freedom.  

But we should remember, as former Justice Thurgood Marshall said, “History teaches us that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.”

So our brave soldiers are fighting for freedom on one hand, while our government is covering up the erosion of our freedoms with the other.

This bill–while improved upon–does not strike the kind of balance we need between broadening the government’s authority to conduct surveillance and protecting the rights of our citizens.

We can and must do better, and therefore I oppose this bill.

Why can’t Obama say this?

After all, it was probably his privacy that among the many being violated.

That’s why all the pressure. They really don’t want us to see the extent of the damage.

Sen. Boxer will have my strong, continued support. I can’t say the same for Feinstein, if a worthy challenger ever faces her.

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