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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Spank the Monkey: Feingold Calls for Bush's Censure

Wisconsin Democrat Asks Senate to Rebuke the President for NSA Wiretaps

Ed O'Keefe

March 12, 2006— - In an exclusive interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on the Senate to publicly admonish President Bush for approving domestic wiretaps on American citizens without first seeking a legally required court order.

"This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors," said Feingold, D-Wis., a three-term senator and potential presidential contender.

He said President Bush had, "openly and almost thumbing his nose at the American people," continued the NSA domestic wiretap program.

President Bush has long asserted that the so-called 'warrantless wiretaps' are an essential tool in the war on terror.

But in a copy of the censure resolution obtained by ABC News, Feingold asserts the president, "repeatedly misled the public prior to the public disclosure of the National Security Agency surveillance program by indicating his administration was relying on court orders to wiretap suspected terrorists inside the United States."

Feingold cites three instances over a year-long period in which Bush outlined the necessity of a court order or a judge's permission prior to a domestic wiretap of a U.S. citizen.

Censure, essentially a public disapproval by the Senate as a whole, has only been applied to one president, Andrew Jackson, in a politically-charged move the Senate historian's office describes as "unprecedented and never-repeated tactic."

Feingold, best known for his bipartisan fight for campaign finance reform with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., intends to introduce the resolution this week -- insisting the move is not a political stunt.

"We, as a Congress, have to stand up to a president who acts like the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on Sept 11, [2001]," Feingold said.

Video of Feingold's and Frist's full interviews will be posted at www.thisweek.abcnews.com.