Rep. Sensenbrenner Tries to Silence PATRIOT Act Debate

I can’t take Sensenbrenner seriously ever since I saw him on C-Span, waiting to speak. He was picking his nose on-camera. What a class act.


Two reasons come to mind.

A. They could’ve been testifying about termite control in West coast states, and that still wouldn’t have made Sensenbrenner’s actions appropriate.

B. Conditions at American holding camps for “enemy combatants” are entirely relevant points of testimony in a discussion regarding extension of antiterror legislation demanded by an Administration which claims the right of the Chief Executive to classify US citizens as such.

I completely disagree. Testifying before a Congressional committee is not a license to grandstand about any subject which pleases you. The chairman is responsible for keeping order, and that includes relevancy of testimony.

No, they are not, because the legislation under discussion had nothing to do with conditions at American holding camps. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

What, SPECIFICALLY, do you claim is the nexus between the Patriot Act and conditions at Guantanamo? What will learning about conditions at Guantanamo add to a legislator’s knowledge as he considers the Patriot Act? Specifically.

Can you cite the specific House rule giving the Chairman of a committee the authority to unilaterally shut down a minority hearing due to presentation of testimony he or she rules as irrelevant? Failing that, can you demonstrate how shutting down such a debate without recognizing minority committee members’ objections constitutes “keeping order”?

Didn’t think so.

You are not alone among rational and educated Americans who can’t see the connections between the indefinite detention and abuse by their government of alleged and untried foreign enemies, and legislation which grants broad powers to agents of that same government inside the borders. Clearly, the majority in Congress don’t assign any importance to those connections. Just as clearly then, the minority members of the Judiciary Committee are on the right tack in forcing public debate.
Now, please state your SPECIFIC* defense of Sensenbrenner’s action. That is, after all, what this thread’s about.
*[sub]Gosh, those ALLCAPS words really make our demands seem as if they follow a lengthy and frustrating interrogative with evasive respondents. Aint we clever and subtle![/sub]

Boy, that’s a real toughy. Took almost a nanosecond.

Howzabout this? What if your concern may be that the Bushiviks might be inclined to overstep the bounds? I know, crazy idea, but still, what if?

Might you not be interested in showing another situation wherein the Admin participated in and encouraged a policy that skirts the bounds of international law and human rights accords? Kind of like “If we can’t trust them here, why should we trust them there”?

Like I said, a real toughy.

I have sort of a big picture question that I would ask of you. This is not my first attempt at writing this, and I fear that it will be a bit rambling so please bear with me.

I get that you are very much a letter of the law kind of guy (at least that is my understanding of your posts). In some ways, when it comes to law you very much remind me of a Fundamentalist.

What I want to know is why you so often come down on the side of the people that are pulling this sort of thing. Don’t you see that the literal interpretation of the law and the sort of hair splitting that comes with it are being used to create unpersons?

Let me ask this another way: Are you saying that abruptly cutting of testimony here was technically following the rules and as long as something was technically following the rules, you are ok with it?

Good question, Binarydrone. Put anothe way, if Bricker were a mod, would it be okay by him if one member wrote of another, “He’s a toll with an R.” Technically within the rules, but clearly intended to circumvent them.

I haven’t gotten to hear the whole hearing, but I heard that one of the questions raised was (paraphrasing), “Exactly how might an innocent person mistakenly detained as an ‘enemy combatant’, so declared at the pleasure of the President, locked up indefinitely without charges and without access to counsel, go about proving his innocence?” Didn’t get answered, but it seems like a really good question.

The silence of the MSM (Mainstream Media) is deafening regarding this event. So-called liberal media, my ass. :mad:

That excuse doesn’t fly – the appropriate responses to allegedly (cite on that, BTW?) testimony do not start with the actions taken by Sensenbrenner, and they do not at any time include attempting to get outside new organization microphones shut off.

The connection between an existing pattern of abuse of power and a request for additional power is obvious, to all but the willfully obtuse.

Both majority and minority legislators brought up the subject of Guantanamo in their questioning of the witnesses. I remember Republican Rep. Pence in particular. Did you not watch the proceedings?

It’s difficult to imagine why the Committee would invite Deborah Pearlstein, Human Rights First, US Law and Security Director and expect her not to discuss US law, security and human rights when asked about them.

Frostillicus, I also noticed the lack of coverage on the news.

Another thing that bothered me is that Sesenbrenner pushed Amnesty International for a list of the names of librarians who have complainted about being coerced into giving information to the FBI. (One example was a list of people who had checked out biographies of Osama bin Laden.) If I understood correctly, the librarians can get into a lot of trouble if they reveal that they have been pressed for this information. So if AI reveals their names, can’t they be prosecuted? (Or did I just misunderstand?)

I gotta go with the majority here, Bricker.

If Sensenbrenner allowed these witnesses to be invited then from the way such committees work he had to know what their testimony was going to be. It should have been submitted to the congressional record in written form pretty early in the discussion.

If he didn’t want them spouting off he shouldn’t have allowed them to come before the committee. Beyond that his actions are almost irrational.

Rule 20:

Rule 21:

The witnesses were out of order. As chair, he ruled them out of order, and when they refused to conform to his ruling, he shut them down. That was within his discretion as chair.

Is that a specific connection?

No. That’s trying to draw a parallel between actions the administrations has taken in one area and potential future actions they may take in a completely separate area. You use the word “power” to attempt to show similarity, but in one instance, the “power” is the classification of enemy combatants and the detention thereof, and in the second case refers to a number of provisions that span a variety of subjects in the US Code, none havong to do with enemy combatants and the detention thereof.

This is the fallacy of equivocation.

And it is not a SPECIFIC connection.

And a question that has what, exactly, to do with the Patriot Act?

Not much to comment, but it seems that what the chair did was not “business as usual”

The question is not if I’m OK with it.

It’s the fact that twenty posts vilifying the action are made here without one acknowledgment that (a) the actions are within the rules, (b) the clear implication that the actions taken were inviolation of the rules, and © no acknowledgment of how the testimony that was “silenced” was irrelevant to the question under discussion.

An intellectually honest appraoch would have been for someone to point this out.

Now, was it admirable? Of course not. It was foolish. Congressional committees hear testimony all the time that ranges far afield from the subject under discussion. It would have been perfectly appropriate to permit the testimony.

But there were twenty posts here that excoriated Sensenbrenner without once mentioning that there was any possible legality or defense to his actions, and that’s dishonest. An honest poster would acknowledge that Sensenbrenner’s actions were within his authority, and criticize him for hos he chose to exercise his authority. But no - not here, not home of the free-thinking and tolerant. Here, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.

His behavior was boorish and against the spirit of the rules. I’ll level criticism where it’s deserved. But what about some intellectual honesty from the attack dogs, eh?

Who said it was business as usual?

Yes, its true, Officer Sens beat the little old lady senseless, then kicked out her dentures and stomped them. But then you guys come in with all these wild charges, and don’t even mention that she was jay-walking, which means Officer Sens was legally within his rights to use deadly force.

Why, who knows what ghastly results might have ensued if people were allowed to, you know, talk and stuff!

Of course, if you could have said what you said in post 37 first, I could have seen that you indeed see the chair’s behavior as foolish.