Sunday, March 05, 2006

URGENT: Tell Chuck Hagel to Stand Up to Bill Frist

by Kyle Michaelis
Day 3: "The Kansas Project"...continues....

With the prospect of hearings investigating the Bush Administration's domestic spying program looming - pending what should prove a decisive March 7th vote - Senate Republican leader Bill Frist has threatened a dangerous and unprecedented plan to restructure the entire Senate Intelligence Committee to protect the President and to keep the American people in the dark about the violation of their most basic constitutional freedoms.

Glenn Greenwald provides a full rundown on Frist's supremely partisan manuevering, which might well include stripping the Senate Intelligence Committee of the 30 year-old safeguards intended to prevent precisely these sorts of abuses of intelligence for political gain. Taking a page from Tom DeLay's playbook in the House, Frist might even resort to removing any Republican Senator from the committee who won't do his bidding.

That leaves Committee member Chuck Hagel, Nebraska's Republican Senator, in the spotlight and perhaps even in the crosshairs of his own party's leadership. To be honest, Hagel's been uncharacteristically quiet about the situation, so he obviously doesn't think it's ripe for the type of media attention that he seeks. What the situation is ripe for, though, is proving that Hagel is the independent-minded patriot he tries to present himself as to the American public -doing what's right, not what he's told.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid writes of the March 7th vote:
This vote will be a critical test of whether this Republican-controlled Congress can conduct critical oversight of the Bush Administration, the intelligence community, and a Bush Administration surveillance program that has raised many legitimate concerns.

Reid is absolutely correct, and I have no doubt that Chuck Hagel knows it. But, that doesn't mean Hagel couldn't use a reminder that voters in Nebraska know what's going on as well.

Despite the credit he deserves for speaking his mind on hot button issues of foreign policy, the truth is that Hagel's voting record shows him to be as partisan as they come when the cameras aren't rolling and he thinks no one is paying attention. We need to show him that isn't the case here.

This is not about politics but rather about protecting the balance of powers in our federal government and maintaining the integrity of the constitutional right to due process. The work of the Intelligence Committee is too important to be left to the likes of Bill Frist, a politician whose only concern for the War on Terror seems to be how many votes he can milk out of it. These hearings are essential for protecting the interests of the American people - anything less protects only President Bush at the peoples' expense.

So - please - remind Sen. Hagel that the people he answers to are the voters. This close to his committee's vote, Letters to the Editor aren't going to do much good ... though, depending on what transpires, this is sure to be a subject worth writing about come Tuesday. Until then, please contact Hagel in one form or another and tell him that Nebraska supports keeping politics out of foreign intelligence but keeping accountability of the President in. We want fair and open hearings on the scope of these possibly illegal activities and the extremely suspect authority under which they were ordered.
Contact Hagel's office:
By Telephone
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-4224
Omaha office (402) 758-8981
Lincoln (402) 476-1400
Kearney (308) 236-7602
Scottsbluff (308) 632-6032

By fax
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-5213
Omaha office (402) 758-9165
Lincoln (402) 476-0605
Kearney (308) 236-7473
Scottsbluff Office (308) 632-6295
Or send an online comment here.


Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

My sample letter (for anyone looking for something to write):

Senator Hagel -

I was reading the news today and discovered that Senator Frist is threatening to rewrite the rules that define the Select Committee on Intelligence to prevent this traditionally bipartisan committee from launching an investigation into the President's NSA activities. In 2003, Senator Frist emphasized the necessity of keeping the Intelligence Committee bipartisan, but it appears that he has changed his mind.

Sir, in the interest of this great republic that we live in, and that you are oath-bound to protect, I urge you to reject any suggestion of rule changes in this case. I also ask for your full support - on the vital March 7th vote before the Intelligence Committee on which you sit - in seeing that hearings on the legality and scope of these constitutionally-suspect domestic spying activities are held in the open and nonpartisan manner that the voters of Nebraska would expect.

It may well be that the President's program is unobjectionable, but the only way to prove that is through an open and objective investigation. This is a matter that strikes to the heart of our national values and should be held above partisan political concerns.

I urge you strongly to protect the Senate's tradition of keeping politics out of the Intelligence Committee. And please be mindful of your responsibility for maintaining the checks and balances safeguarding our government. Support fair and open hearings ensuring that even the President must respect the authority of Congress and the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution.

Thank you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to thank you and all Nebraskans who are actively taking part in the call to action. Though many states separate California from Nebraska, we are neighbors in kind. Good luck to us and keep on!

Blogger phat said...

I've made my phone call and have told other people to make the call. I'll probably make another phone call tomorrow morning.

Good job Kyle.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote Hagel on this issue last week and followed up with a phone call to his D.C. office today, 3/6/06.

I hear they are voting behind closed doors so how will we know how he voted?

How much attention do any of them pay to us citizens anyway? I really think not much. They all seemed to be owned by the corporations and their lobbyist. We the people don't stand a chance.

They don't have to pay attention when they control the vote. If you don't believe just go read all the documentation available at

That's Brad Friedman's website and he has been hot on the trail nationwide on this issue at least since the last election if not before.

It's downright depressing, but we are making a little headway on the election fraud issues.


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