Mark Udall

C.I.A. to Senate Intelligence - do as I say, not as I do

The Senate Intelligence Committee is apparently getting a taste of what it’s like to be the subject of a C.I.A. investigation, and isn’t very pleased. It has partially come to light that the spies have been watching the committee, primarily over an investigation into the Bush administration’s interrogation and detention program in the wake of 9/11. Yes, it’s the long and expensive investigation into the C.I.A.’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” coming back to bite the committee.

It’s no secret that the C.I.A. was less than pleased with the findings the investigation, and when the Senate Committee managed to get their hands on a secret document that contradicted C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s contentions that their initial investigation was at least partially false, things started to get ugly. Like many other webs of intrigue in our government these days, one almost needs a scorecard to keep track.

1. The Senate Intelligence Committee engaged in an investigation of the interrogation and detention program. This cost taxpayers more than $40 million because the C.I.A. insisted that the investigation had to take place in a secure location, and all the material had to be reviewed by an outside contractor before it could be released to the committee staff.

2. The investigation found that the techniques like waterboarding used by the C.I.A. really didn’t yield a great deal of useful information. It certainly didn’t justify the use of those techniques, and placed the U.S. in a difficult situation when it came to foreign relations.

Defeating Mark Udall in Colorado may yield one final victory for liberty

NSA Domestic Spying

When Republican challenger Cory Gardner defeated incument Democrat Mark Udall in Colorado, it was a huge victory for constitutional government and individual liberty. However, that victory might yield one final benefit even before Gardener takes office in January. Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is considering releasing all or part of a secret government report on the CIA’s torture program before he leaves office.

As a member of Congress, Udall has immunity from prosecution for releasing classified information as part of the “Speech or Debate Clause” if he does so on the floor of the Senate. He could read the entire unredacted report in a speech or filibuster and suffer no criminal consequence because of the congressional exception and no political consequence since he’s leaving office.

The report was compiled by the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2009 to 2012 based on documents from the detention and interrogation program started after the September 11 attacks. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has no problem with the government’s wholesale violation of American privacy rights, summarizes the report as follows:

Democrats are falling over themselves to get away from Barack Obama’s failing presidency

With just under four months to go until election day, vulnerable Senate Democrats are doing everything they can to avoid any ties to President Barack Obama or his agenda — you know, the agenda they’ve all supported over the past six years, and The Hill has taken notice:

Democrats in tough reelection races have a blunt message for President Obama: Keep away.

Obama’s approval ratings are in the basement and show no signs of improving, so Democrats are keeping their distance. On the stump, in campaign ads and at fundraisers, Obama’s absence is increasingly conspicuous.

Democrats are voicing their displeasure with his policies and campaign advisers are telling candidates to avoid being photographed with him, so as to deny Republicans effective visuals for campaign ads.
[…]
Many of the Democratic senators elected in 2008 rode to office on Obama’s coattails. Six years later, they’re asking, “Barack who?”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) last week avoided being at his own fundraiser while Obama was there, excusing himself on the grounds that he had to attend votes at the Capitol.

Today in Liberty: Obama still avoiding border visit during fundraising trip, Ted Cruz is really not happy with the NRSC

“There is something fundamentally unfair about a government that takes away so much of people’s money, power, and personal control while telling them that life will be better as a result.” — Steve Forbes

— Obama will discuss border crisis in Texas, but won’t visit the border: Facing increasing political pressure over the “humanitarian crisis” (his words) at the United States’ Southwest border, President Barack Obama will meet with local officials and church leaders to discuss the issue today in Dallas. But he still won’t visit the border during the two-day swing in which he’s set to raise money for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). “The roundtable discussion in Dallas is seen by the White House as a way to address the immigration issue while avoiding awkward optics at the border,” the Associated Press explains. “Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have arrived there in recent months, many fleeing violence in Central America, but also drawn by rumors that they can stay in the U.S. White House officials say most are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief and will be sent back to their home countries.” The meeting is going to provide more fodder for congressional Republicans as well as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who has asked President Obama to visit the border during his trip to the Lone Star State. Pundits on MSNBC’s Morning Joe suggested on Wednesday that President Obama could offend the Democratic Party’s base if he visited the border.

Today in Liberty: Email privacy reform bill hits the magic number, Senate Conservatives Funds goes on the air for Chris McDaniel

“Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?” — Thomas Sowell

— Email Privacy Act hits majority support: We mentioned in Tuesday’s Today in Liberty that the Email Privacy Act was very close to 218 cosponsors, a majority of the House of Representatives. Well, it happened. “The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) gained its 218th cosponsor late on Tuesday, giving the sponsors hope that the bill could move this year,” The Hill reports. “The sponsors have been talking with House leadership and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) about moving the bill forward, according to Yoder.” The Email Privacy Act would close a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act that allows law enforcement agencies to access emails and other electronic communications older than 180 days without a warrant.

CO Senate: Udall would vote for Obamacare again

A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 51% of Colorado voters disapprove of Obamacare while just 39% support the law. On top of that finding, 58% said that the rollout of the law was unsuccessful.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the poll also found that Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) holds just a 2-point lead over his likely Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

Though his approval rating was just barely above water, Udall has been plagued by President Obama’s net-negative approval rating, 43/53, in the state and voter sentiment toward Obamacare.

The Colorado Democrat, however, is doubling down on Obamacare, despite how Colorado voters feel about the law. In an interview with a Denver-based radio station, Udall said that he’d vote for Obamacare again.

“We now have a system that is far from perfect, but my focus is making it work for Coloradans. And that’s the Colorado spirit,” said Udall after hitting all the recent Democratic talking points, including a reference to the Koch brothers. “We can’t go back to a time when if you were a woman the insurance companies could drop your coverage. Too many families went into bankruptcy because of health care costs.”

“So in the end we did the right thing. The law is far from perfect. My focus is making it work for Colorado,” he added.

“So you’d do it again?” the host asked.

“I would do it again, yes, I would,” he said. “I think, look, if I were there I would say here are some things that we should have done differently, here are some things that make more sense.”

CO Senate: Republicans competitive as Obama, Obamacare hang over Udall

Once thought to be a relatively safe bet for reelection, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) has found himself racing a tough race against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) as the map of competitive Senate races expands into Colorado, a state that President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012.

A poll released by Public Policy Polling on Tuesday found that Udall holds a 2-point lead, 42/40, over Gardner. Udall’s lead is within the poll’s 4.1% margin of error, meaning that the race is statistically tied.

Gardner, a two-term Congressman, entered the race late last month and is seen as the strongest candidate Republicans have to taken on Obamacare. Ken Buck dropped out of the race a day after Gardner announced. Owen Hill, a state senator with Tea Party backing, announced his exit from the race this week, leaving no serious primary challenge to Gardner.

Though Udall’s approval rating is slightly above water, 41/40, those numbers are concerning for any politician entering an election year. Making the Colorado Democrat’s problems worse are President Obama’s underwater approval rating, 43/53, and tepid support for Obamacare.

Obama’s Keystone XL decision could play a role in Senate races

Energy issues will play a role in four key states that could decide control of the Senate in the 2014 mid-term election, according to a new poll. Specifically, President Barack Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will weigh on voters’ minds.

The poll, conducted by Hickman Analytics on behalf of Consumer Energy Alliance, found that more than three-quarters of likely voters in four states — Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina — “said they will consider a candidate’s position on energy issues, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, before deciding whom they will support.”

More than two-thirds of likely voters in these four states support building the Keystone XL pipeline. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) support construction of the oil pipeline. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), however, does not.

Whether or not these Senate Democrats support Keystone XL may prove irrelevant depending on what action President Obama takes. The poll found that voters in these four states would be less likely to support a Democratic incumbent if the White House rejects the proposed oil pipeline:

Obama pledges to stay out Senate races to help Dems

With his second-term agenda on the line and vulnerable Democrats feverishly trying distance themselves from his unpopular presidency, Barack Obama said that he’s willing to stay out races that could determine control of the Senate:

President Barack Obama has told Senate Democrats that he’s willing to stay away from election battles where his presence would not be helpful, a Democratic source said — an apparent nod to his poll numbers.
[…]
“I don’t remember him (Obama) saying he wouldn’t be offended if he wasn’t invited (to help campaign), but he certainly acknowledged how low his numbers are in certain states,” a source told CNN.

But Obama also noted “they are bad in some states overall,” and “that certain people would need him to help in certain parts of those states,” that source said.

Basically, President Obama just told Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) that he understands that their support of his agenda is a drag on their chances for reelection in red-leaning states.

Senate Dems to Obama: Yeah, we’re not going to help you

President Barack Obama faces a pretty long road ahead as he seeks to get various parts of his second-term agenda through Congress. Though he likes to blame congressional Republicans for blocking his initiatives, Politico noted this morning that even Democrats aren’t going to make things easy:

From trade to Iran sanctions, the Keystone XL pipeline, Obamacare, the National Security Agency and energy policy, Senate Democrats seem unusually comfortable criticizing the president, with only minimal concerns about repercussions from the White House.

Even Obama’s steadfast ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, didn’t mince words last week when he rejected a bill to fast-track trade deals that is strongly backed by the White House, working against Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, a Senate colleague who has been tapped to be the president’s ambassador to China.
[…]
For some lawmakers, the criticism is predictable: Democrats from energy-producing states are likely to whack the administration’s energy policies and red-state Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are worried about Obamacare fallout. In some instances, the contrasts between vulnerable Senate Democrats and the White House appear to be orchestrated to counter Obama’s low approval rates in red states where incumbents will face voters this fall, congressional aides in both parties suggest.

But not all the criticism is coming from expected quarters.

Liberal Democrats have decried NSA surveillance programs, and Democrats not up for reelection for years seem perfectly at ease clashing with the White House.


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