Freshman Senator Sherrod Brown, a popular progressive leader who shocked his supporters by voting for the Military Commissions Act (MCA) last year, now says the vote was a mistake that he intends to "correct."
Speaking with Air America's Cenk Uygur at the Take Back America Conference yesterday, Brown said he regretted the "bad vote":
"I take responsibility. It was the heat of the campaign and I made a mistake."
After backing the MCA, commonly known as the "Torture Bill" in the liberal blogosphere, Brown was kicked out of the Blue America fundraising program. Howie Klein, one of three bloggers who runs the effort, says Brown is the "only person" that was ever booted after an endorsement.
I don't think there will ever be a way to understand how so many members of Congress, who take an oath to uphold the Constitution, could vote for such a patently unconstitutional and un-American bill. Some denied the reality that they were advancing torture and undermining our Constitutional rights, others buckled under perceived political pressure -- although it was hardly a banner year for the bill's Republican sponsors -- and some simply admitted they were betraying their oath and their country. During the congressional debate, for example, then-Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter admitted on the Senate floor that the bill was unconstitutional. The MCA is likely to go down in history with the Alien and Sedition Acts as one of the worst congressional assaults on the Constitution in American history, as International League for Human Rights President Scott Horton writes in this month's Harper's. But it is still real progress for members of Congress to admit their mistake and promise to "correct" it, as Brown is doing, just as it was encouraging to see Senator Leahy lead the Judiciary Committee in backing legislation to restore habeas corpus this month.
UPDATE: Bob Geiger has more.