It has been a busy day in Congress today and while our movement for accountability for the Bush/Cheney White House just took a major leapforward with the testimony of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, we also unfortunately took a terrible step backwards with the tragic approval of new FISA legislation. I voted against this awful FISA law that degrades the privacy guarantees of our Constitution.
What we heard from Mr. McClellan was confirmation under oath of what we have long suspected: the President, Vice President, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and others purposefully conspired to mislead Americans for political gain and at the cost of the lives of our soldiers, the security of our nation, and the sanctity of our Constitution.
Today, Scott McClellan said that he considers it a likely possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney was the person who authorized the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert status. Mr. McClellan also said that he believes more White House officials should come before Congress and reveal the truth about this Administration’s actions.
McClellan’s testimony underscores a simple reality:
We must dig deeper. As I said today in the Judiciary Committee hearing, the facts we know now are more than enough to justify impeachment hearings for President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. You can read my entire testimony today below.
There is no higher agenda than protecting the Constitution. The Separation of Powers principle is being threatened, our Civil Rights are under attack, and must pursue accountability no matter what the political cost.
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The FISA Vote
Today I voted against the so-called FISA “compromise” bill, as the only thing that is really being compromised is our civil rights.
In spite of the earnest, hard work of many Members of Congress, the President has continued to demand that Congress rubber-stamp his illegal wiretapping program.
Every American wants to protect our country from terrorists; but the President is not asking for tools to thwart terrorists. He is demanding unchecked power. He expects the Congress to throw out even the most modest, expedited court review on the absurd premise that a specially designed court with over 30 years of experience handling surveillance requests is suddenly going to bring our nation’s intelligence operations to a standstill.
The rights of everyday Americans are at issue here, and full accountability needed. A court that is given full and appropriate review of the particular circumstances in each case is the only appropriate venue for making decisions about immunity for actions that may or may not have violated the civil liberties of some individuals.
In addition, while I am sympathetic to the difficult position telephone and Internet service providers, who may have thought they were doing their patriotic duty, the fact remains that I simply cannot support offering retroactive immunity. I have had the opportunity to view some of the documents in question, and I can say that my position on this subject is unchanged.
I will continue to support the March 14th House bill that preserves the appropriate court review of all surveillance of US citizens and gives judges the discretion to review all the necessary documents related to telecom lawsuits without offering blanket immunity.
Continue Our Fight for Accountability
I also want to thank the thousands of Americans who sent emails to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel defending my position in favor of impeachment. I can assure you I will not back down.
In fact, over the next week I will appearing on numerous television programs where I intend to raise these issues as often as I can. You can see me on the following television shows:
• Sunday, June 22nd at noon (EST) on CNN’s Late Edition,
• Tuesday, June 24 at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm (EST) on Hardball on MSNBC,
• Wednesday June 25 at 3:30 pm (EST) on CNN’s the Situation Room,
•Thursday June 26 at 11:30 pm (EST) on Comedy Central’s the Colbert Report
•Friday June 27 at 7:30 am (EST) on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
I am grateful for your continued support and advocacy.
Congressman Robert Wexler
TEXT OF REP WEXLER AND SCOTT MCCLELLAN DURING TODAY’S HEARING
Robert Wexler: Thank you Mister Chairman, thank you Mr. McClellan, for appearing before this committee today. Your book raises many questions about the administration that is incapable of telling the truth and, in your words, avoids accountability. I want to focus on how and why Scooter Libby came to reveal the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. From everything we know about this administration, it is inconceivable that Mr. Libby would have acted alone. It is essential we learn who ordered or gave permission to Mr. Libby to expose the identity of this covert agent. The president and vice president have denied ordering this illegal leak, but logic and the chain of command dictates that it must have been one of them. Mr. McClellan, in your book you state that you cannot believe President Bush authorized the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s status as a covert agent. It is unimaginable to you that the President, one of only two people who had the authority to give Libby the go-ahead to make this leak, actually did it. So who does that leave us? The Vice President. You do not defend Mr. Cheney in your book; in fact, the lack of faith you express in the Vice President in your book is striking. Why?
Scott McClellan: Well, he is someone who keeps things pretty close to the vest, to say the least. I do not know what his thinking is or what his involvement was in this whole episode. I think that Patrick Fitzgerald stated it well when he talked about the cloud that was remaining over the Vice President’s office because of Scooter Libby’s actions that lead to his conviction on four counts, I guess, but there’s a lot of suspicion there because there are questions that have never been answered, despite the fact that we said at some point we would address these issues.
Wexler: So this suspicion leads you to believe that Vice President Cheney could have authorized Mr. Libby’s leak?
McClellan: I can’t rule it out, and I think that Scooter Libby in his, some testimony that he’s talked about, it’s possible that he could have first learned about her from, or that the Vice President could have even asked him to get that information out.
Wexler: Well, thank you for your candor, Mr. McClellan. Your suspicion or the doubts that you raise fit in very nicely to what it is we do know. We do know Mr. Cheney has been deeply involved in the efforts to cover up the leak and exonerate Mr. Libby. We know Mr. Cheney called you to have you unknowingly lie to the American people about Libby’s involvement. We know that the Vice President wrote a note where he starts to write and then crosses out the fact that the president himself asked Libby to stick his neck into a meat grinder to protect the administration. It is clear to me that Mr. Cheney is the only one left; the only likely suspect to have ordered the leak. If Mr. Cheney really thought Libby was innocent, then his note would have likely said something like “We need to protect this man who has done nothing wrong.” But that’s not what Mr. Cheney’s note said. The Vice President’s own hand betrays him and Libby, and implicates the President of the United States.
These facts and your testimony, Mr. McClellan, are more than enough in my view to open up impeachment hearings. Furthermore, the President’s use of the pardon power to deflect an investigation into his own wrongdoing by granting a commutation to the man who may have lied for him, would constitute an abuse and crime of the highest order. And we must determine on this committee conclusively whether or not this happened. Thank you, Mr. McClellan, for exposing some of the lies that were propagated by this White House. But unfortunately, as you have said, I believe as well, others in this White House have been blocking access to the truth. It’s time we sweep away the bogus claims of executive privilege and get Karl Rove, Andy Card, and others before this judiciary committee. We have the power of inhering contempt, and if need be, we should use it. Mr. McClellan, what you have provided today for the American people is enormously important. You are the first high official in this administration to come before this Congress and offer us a glimpse into the truth. I commend you for being here today.
McClellan: Thank you Congressman. I do believe it’s important for the American people to have the truth.