Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Many among crowd urge Russ to run

Published Tuesday, May 30, 2006 1:37:23 PM Central Time

By Brian Gray

of the Times

NEW GLARUS -- If Saturday's listening session is any indication, voters in Green County support a Sen. Russ Feingold campaign for president in 2008.

"Someone mentioned that if Hillary Clinton isn't the nominee in 2008 you will be," one member of the audience told Feingold as others applauded vigorously.

Feingold, D-Middleton, smiled at the comment.

"This is supposed to be a non-political meeting," he joked. "But you're certainly free to say whatever you like."

About 60 people attended Feingold's listening session in New Glarus and questions ranged from the recent theft of veterans' personal information to Feingold's call for a censure of President George W. Bush.

"I don't think President Bush should be censured. I think he should be impeached," one woman told Feingold.

"I thank you for your comment because that makes me look like a moderate," Feingold laughed. "We do have a serious Constitutional crisis here. It's troubling."

Feingold said he's concerned the president has signed bills into law and then has written that he won't abide by things in the law he disagrees with.

"In December the president said he could do anything he wanted. I thought 'Oh really.' That's why I proposed a censure," he said.

Some senators have supported the idea of a censure. Feingold said it's something that's going to take time, but it's something that needs to be done.

"The president broke the law and there needs to be some accountability," he declared.

Many of those at the meeting just wanted to tell Feingold they support what he's doing. Others asked about issues recently in the news.

Joe Cousin, Albany, told Feingold he would like to see a war on poverty, similar to the efforts in the 1960s, with Pres. Feingold standing in front of a sign that reads "mission accomplished."

Feingold said health care and poverty continue to be a problem throughout the country and need to be addressed.

"I think there's going to be a rude shock when people realize how far behind we are when it comes to those issues," he said.

Mike Furgal, Monroe, said he was upset about the theft of veterans' identification information and said the government's response was not adequate.

"They want veterans to call an 800 number but a lot of veterans have problems seeing or hearing and can't call. Other veterans live in nursing homes and can't call."

Furgal encouraged Feingold to support a plan by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for the government to monitor veterans' credit for free for one year. Feingold said he would look into the plan.

One person asked Feingold why he thinks it's important for the Democrats to win control of either the House of Representatives or the Senate in November.

"It's important we not have one party rule," he replied. "We could block a lot of bad things. For example, gay marriage and flag burning are distractions to real issues.

"I love and respect the flag and I think anyone who burns the flag is an idiot. But I don't think we need a Constitutional amendment. Even horrible speech is protected."

Feingold also spent time Saturday at a listening session in Darlington.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Feingold Opposes Hayden Nomination

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
On Opposing the Nomination of General Michael Hayden to be the Next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

I voted against the nomination of General Michael Hayden to be Director of the CIA because I am not convinced that the nominee respects the rule of law and Congress’s oversight responsibilities. General Hayden is highly experienced and talented. But, as Director of the NSA, General Hayden directed an illegal program that put Americans on American soil under surveillance without the legally required approval of a judge. Having finally been briefed about this program last week, I am more convinced than ever that it is illegal. Our country needs a CIA Director who is committed to fighting terrorism aggressively without breaking the law or infringing on the rights of Americans. General Hayden’s role in implementing and publicly defending the warrantless surveillance program does not give me confidence that he is capable of fulfilling this important responsibility.

General Hayden failed in his testimony to express any reservations about this Administration’s lack of respect for the rule of law. Rather than committing to follow legally binding restrictions on the authorities of the CIA, such as those prohibiting the CIA from engaging in domestic security, he spoke about presidential authority and consultations with government lawyers. Given that Administration lawyers continue to assert presidential authority to override the law, General Hayden’s answers were less than reassuring.

General Hayden’s conduct and testimony also raise serious questions about his willingness to respect congressional oversight. He was complicit in the Administration’s failure to inform the full congressional intelligence committees about the warrantless surveillance program, even though this notification is required by law. In his testimony, he repeatedly failed to explain or criticize the Administration’s failure to inform the full committees about the program. And he declined to commit to notifying the full committees about all intelligence activities, as is required by law.

Finally, I remain concerned about previous misleading testimony by General Hayden regarding warrantless surveillance and his explanation for that testimony. In 2002, he told a joint congressional committee that, under FISA, persons inside the United States "would have protections as what the law defines as a U.S. person and I would have no authorities to pursue it." In fact, the President had already authorized the NSA to bypass those legal protections. General Hayden’s explanation for this statement, that he was speaking in open session at the time and had earlier given a fuller briefing to the committee in closed session, does not justify a public misleading statement.

The stakes are high. Al Qaeda and its affiliates seek to destroy us. We must fight back and we must join this fight together, as a nation. But when Administration officials ignore the law and ignore the other branches of government, it distracts us from fighting our enemies. I am disappointed that the President decided to make such a controversial nomination at this time. While I defer to Presidents in considering nominations to positions in the executive branch, I cannot vote for a nominee whose conduct raises such troubling questions about his adherence to the rule of law.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Energy Emergency Consumer Protection Act

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
On the Need for Real Energy Solutions

"While I agree with the President’s call for investigations into possible price gouging, stronger action is required, such as passage of the Energy Emergency Consumer Protection Act, a federal price gouging statute introduced last September that I supported, and serious investigations of consolidation in the oil industry. With Americans being squeezed by out-of-control gas prices, the administration must get tough with big oil, and get serious about moving forward with real energy solutions.

We have to get at the root cause of these high gas prices – what the President has called our nation’s addiction to oil. It poses a significant threat to our economy, our national security, and our environment and it is past time that we came to grips with it and rid ourselves of that addiction by developing an energy policy that brings us into the 21st century."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Feingold Statement on Intelligence Report

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On the 30th Anniversary of the Church Committee Report

WASHINGTON - April 26 - “April 26th, 2006 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the Church Committee report, a watershed moment that spurred Congress to assume its critical role in overseeing the U.S. intelligence community. The report, which uncovered serious abuses in U.S. intelligence both overseas and here in America, recommended the creation of a permanent Senate Intelligence Committee, through which the Senate could conduct rigorous oversight of U.S. intelligence activities, while safeguarding Americans’ rights and freedoms.

“The Church Committee’s report also led to legislation requiring the executive branch to inform the congressional intelligence committees of all intelligence activities. Yet, for over four years, the Bush Administration has ignored this law, hiding its illegal warrantless surveillance program from the full committees, and continuing to deny the committees critical information. At a time when Congress has failed to assert its constitutional and statutory role in conducting intelligence oversight, we should recall the groundbreaking efforts of the Church Committee, and the responsibilities that came with the establishment of the congressional intelligence committees. The American people have entrusted us to protect them from our enemies while ensuring that our government upholds the law and the Constitution. We must renew our commitment to that charge. As Senator Church said 30 years ago today, ‘Our experience as a nation has taught us that we must place our trust in laws, and not solely in men. The founding fathers foresaw excess as the inevitable consequence of granting any part of government unchecked power.’”

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Feingold on Secret Meeting

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
Objecting to the Judiciary Committee’s Handling of the Constitutional Amendment on Marriage

May 18, 2006

“Today’s markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. I objected to its consideration in such an inappropriate setting and refused to help make a quorum. I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee went forward with the markup over my objection. Unfortunately, the Majority Leader has set a politically motivated schedule for floor consideration of this measure that the Chairman felt compelled to follow, even though he says he opposes the amendment.

Constitutional amendments deserve the most careful and deliberate consideration of any matter that comes before the Senate. In addition to hearings and a subcommittee markup, such a measure should be considered by the Judiciary Committee in the light of day, open to the press and the public, with cameras present so that the whole country can see what is done. Open and deliberate debate on such an important matter cannot take place in a setting such as the one chosen by the Chairman of the Committee today.

The Constitution of the United States is an historic guarantee of individual freedom. It has served as a beacon of hope, an example to people around the world who yearn to be free and to live their lives without government interference in their most basic human decisions. I took an oath when I joined this body to support and defend the Constitution. I will continue to fight this mean-spirited, divisive, poorly drafted, and misguided amendment when it comes to the Senate floor.”

Feingold Stands for Equality

“Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a prospective 2008 presidential candidate, said yesterday that he thinks bans on same-sex marriages have no place in the nation’s laws.”

“Feingold said in an interview that he was motivated to state his position on one of the most divisive social issues in the country after being asked at a town hall meeting Sunday about a pending amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.”

“Feingold called the amendment “a mean-spirited attempt” to single out gay men and lesbians for discrimination and said he would vote against it. But he went further, announcing that he favors legalizing same-sex marriages.”

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