I am at home under the weather but I stumbled upon this floor speech (via Boing Boing) by Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn) regarding the recent FISA legislation and found it so interesting that I wanted to get it out there.
If you are following the FISA legislation as a professional, academic or student, the speech is, of course, worth listening to. Dodd was essential in the defeat of the bill back in mid-December. He was, and still is, very much against the clause that would grant immunity to telecom companies who allegedly violated privacy rights in passing communications to the government absent a warrant prior to some of the earlier FISA amendments. His complaint against the current form of the bill is, in short, pretty narrowly focused.
The other (and for me), more interesting aspect of the speech is the way Dodd delivers it. The tone and the pace have an old-school, statesmanlike ring to them. In this day of 30 second soundbites, the chance to hear an articulate and well-crafted 30 minute speech is rare. There is clearly both passion and anger in Dodd's voice, yet the speech never descends to a point where he is just angry or just passionate. You may agree or not with what Dodd has to say, but it is hard not to be impressed by the way he says it.
Here are a few listening notes:
- The first 5-6 minutes are fairly technical from a parliamentary perspective. You pretty much have to be prepared to give this about 10-15 minutes of your time in order to get hooked.
- Dodd was in both the Peace Corps and the Army Reserve and was elected in the post Watergate period. His riffs on the history of FISA and the findings and intent of the Church Committee are gems for historians.
- There is not much to see in the video. Dodd is giving the speech from the podium and the camera never moves from him. I found the speech much more interesting when I just kicked back and closed my eyes and listened to it radio-style.