Saturday, June 11


I tried various sites that posted video of Rep. James (R-Wisconsin) Sensenbrenner's outrageous behavior yesterday in peremptorily adjourning the House hearings on the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and this was the only one I could get through.

The gist of the thing is, Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had held 10 hearings on the subject prior to this, those hearings being largely packed with witnesses supporting the renewal of the Patriot Act. Dems called for this, the 11th hearing, and handpicked the witnesses, all opponents of renewal. When witnesses and their Democratic questioners got into the areas of the Guantanamo Bay prison and immigration issues, Sensenbrenner declared that all he was hearing was irrelevant to the Patriot Act, and he was (though peppered with requests to yield by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who had earlier yielded herself) shutting down the session. Rep. Jerrold (D-NY) tried to call for a point of order but was ignored by Sensenbrenner.

"Do we have any press that want to hear our side of the story?" Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked immediately after Sensenbrenner and the other Republicans walked out. When the Dems tried to continue, Repug staffers shut off the microphones. After that, they shut off most of the lights.

I won't add much to the chorus of comments about this disgraceful episode except to note the reaction of James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute as the Democrats attempted to keep the hearing going (to the best of my memory):

"This is so inappropriate. There are no microphones, no record. If we are lecturing foreign governments about the conduct of their behavior in regard to opposition or minority rights, what lesson are we teaching by a display like this? As an American, I'm troubled that this is the lesson we are going to teach other countries in the world about how an open society deals with opposition."

More on Sensenbrenner here.


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