Yesterday's vote on FISA was an embarrassment for Gordon Smith. Just listen to the way he cowers in fear -- letting the terrorists win:
"We live in a high tech age and our enemies are very sophisticated and they have murder on their minds,'' he said. "We have to be as quick as they are in order to provide for the common defense of the American people.''
Meanwhile, Ron Wyden stood tall - and recognized that we can fight the terrorists without letting them terrorize us into abandoning the very constitutional civil liberties that define us as Americans:
"The case for immunity is flimsy,'' Wyden said.
"Essentially this bill allows the administration to self certify (that telecoms acted at the request of the U.S. government.) All the independent judicial oversight basically is set aside,'' he said.
Wyden has been on of the fiercest critics of the bill for weeks and the small changes to the legislation that came to a vote Wednesday did nothing to sooth his concerns.
"There's a constitutional balance that's out of whack,'' he said.
As he has for weeks, Wyden objected to what he said were overly liberal terms for conducting surveillance and to what he said as weak oversight of the people who conduct such activities.
He also blamed his party for not standing up to White House threats that Wyden said were hollow. Nineteen Democrats, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, voted for the bill.
"On national security issues, there's only one bully pulpit and that's the White House. When the White House says, 'If you don't support us national security will be endangered,' that's a very powerful message,'' he said.
"But it's possible to fight terrorism ferociously while protecting the individual rights of citizens."
Doesn't Oregon deserve a Senator who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ron Wyden on civil liberties -- rather than letting the terrorists win?
I'm proud of Ron Wyden and I'll be proud of Jeff Merkley in the U.S. Senate.
[Update: I'm also proud of Earl Blumenauer, David Wu, Darlene Hooley, and Peter DeFazio - all of whom also voted against the FISA bill in the House, back in June.]
[Full disclosure: My firm helped build JeffMerkley.com and Wyden's site, StandTallForAmerica.com, but I speak only for myself.]