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John Conyers Responds to Patriot Act Reauthorization With… Nothing

When American liberals questioned the record of some candidates being selected (without primaries) by the Democratic Party back in 2006, do you remember what the response was?

With a Democratic majority in Congress, just “imagine” the changes!

In particular, Democratic partisans asked liberal voters to “imagine John Conyers” as the chair of the House Judiciary committee. Boy, would things be different or what?

Chlorocardium at the Smirking Chimp, October 2006:

There are many reasons to WORK to see control shift. It will definitely be an improvement, a starting point.

Just as an example: Imagine John Conyers as chair of the Judiciary Committee!

Willing to put off the second stage of house cleaning until after we get to the first one???

Russron at Daily Kos, July 2006:

Can you imagine John Conyers as Judiciary Chairman instead Senslessbrenner? Can you say new Downing Street Hearings? Can you say hearings into Domestic Spying and Torture?

Truthdig, August 2006:

Should the Democrats retake control of the House after the 2006 midterm elections, Conyers would become the chairman of the Judiciary Committee—which would give him the power to call hearings and subpoena witnesses. It is widely whispered that should Conyers ascend to the chairmanship, he may initiate articles of impeachment against the president.

Republicans like Tom DeLay were appearing on television, predicting an amazing shift if the Democrats won a congressional majority in 2006 and John Conyers were granted the chair of the Judiciary Committee. Hardball with Chris Matthews, April 4 2006:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: What would happen if Henry Waxman got the subpoena power in the Government Reform Committee? What would happen if John Conyers of Michigan got the subpoena power? Would they go after the president?

TOM DeLAY: Sure, they would. They’ve — they’ve tried the whole time we’ve been in the majority, just look at what they’ve been doing. Henry Waxman is constantly calling for investigations — mostly frivolous investigations to make political points. John Conyers has even called for the impeachment of the president.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that —

DeLAY: What do you — What do you think he’s [Conyers] going to do if he’s chairman of the Judiciary Committee?

MATTHEWS: You have an inside view, Congressman, of what they will do. I know their records. I know their philosophies. But you tell me, the man in the news today, do you believe that the Republicans, if they lose the House, will turn over the subpoena power to people who will try to impeach the president?

DeLAY: Absolutely.

Yep, if John Conyers got the chair of the Judiciary, we sure would have to watch out, because big change would be a-coming, right?

Well, John Conyers got that chair three years ago. What’s happened since? No impeachment, that’s for sure. No truth commissions. Instead, we’ve had John Conyers voting to reauthorize the Patriot Act, without an iota of reform. Conyers’ excuse: that after eight and a half years of these Patriot Act surveillance provisions, and after three years during which he had held the chair of the Judiciary Committee, he still hadn’t worked out legislation to reform those provisions. He needed some more time to figure it all out, Conyers explained, which is why he voted to keep the Patriot Act exactly as-is.

That was last month. John Conyers got his wish — Patriot Act surveillance powers were reauthorized without any reform. So you can imagine that in his capacity as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers has been eager to get that reform going. You can imagine he’s introduced some new legislation to reform the Patriot Act. You can imagine he’s jumped into action, scheduling hearings for this spring to unpack the civil liberties problems associated with the use of Patriot Act powers. I mean, heck, time’s a-wasting, right?

Oh, you can imagine all that. Imagine it all you like, but check legislative databases and House Judiciary schedules and you’ll see that your imagination has run away with you. John Conyers hasn’t done any of those things. He’s done nothing. Even the revelation that the FBI had broken the Patriot Act law to mount surveillance against law-abiding journalists hasn’t prodded Conyers into action.

Conyers is backed up by a president of his party in the White House and the biggest congressional majorities the Democrats will see for years to come. We don’t have to imagine what John Conyers would do with the power and advantage of the House Judiciary Chair any longer. Conyers has responded to this opportunity with nothing.

Is nothing what you voted for?

2 thoughts on “John Conyers Responds to Patriot Act Reauthorization With… Nothing”

  1. Tom says:

    i was seriously taken aback by the lack of immediate and total prosecution of the Bush administration, as it turned out, a harbinger of things to come . . .

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