February 17th, 2006

Yesterday, Senator Biden appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss, among other things, whether the Senate Intelligence Committee should vote to hold an investigation into the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program. (There may be a short pause after clicking while the video file loads).

We need to know the facts

February 15th, 2006

In advance of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s upcoming business meeting tomorrow, U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) today urged the committee to open a thorough investigation into the NSA’s controversial wiretapping program.

“Everyone is for listening in on terrorist’s phone calls. But we don’t know who the NSA is listening to or the extent of the program. We need to know the facts. Is the Administration telling the truth?” said Biden. “The Senate Intelligence Committee must hold extensive hearings to get to the bottom of this.”

Read more here.

We need to know the facts

February 13th, 2006


The Senate Intelligence Committee is meeting on February 16.
Please join me in urging the Committee to vote for an extensive investigation into the scope of President Bush’s domestic surveillance program at that meeting.

Click here to add your name to this petition

On Monday, February 6, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales regarding the legality of President Bush’s domestic surveillance program that is being conducted by the National Security Agency. You can see video of his answers to my questions by clicking on the images at the bottom of this post.

Unfortunately, as you can see from Attorney General Gonzales’s answers on Monday, after two rounds of questions, we know little more about the program than when we began. Furthermore, so far the Senate Intelligence Committee has been reluctant to undertake an extensive investigation to make sure Congress has all the facts.

This cannot stand: we need to know the facts.

Issues concerning the core privacy rights of United States citizens, the critical balance between national security and privacy, whether we are fighting an effective war on terrorism, and the fundamental structure of our separation of powers are directly involved here and deserve a full and thorough examination.

I am calling for a bipartisan effort similar to the one undertaken when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was first written. At the time, writing FISA was a joint project of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Over a period of several years, the two committees conducted extensive public and private investigations to make sure we got it right — crafting a law that protected our national security while safeguarding our civil liberties.

I believe we need to undertake a similar process here. It is essential that such a carefully considered record be developed so that we don’t act precipitously either to legislate or not to legislate.

At present, our knowledge of the National Security Agency program is severely limited, compounding the difficulty of assessing its legality — although my view as one of the drafters of FISA is that it is illegal (and the great weight of legal authority backs this conclusion). Nevertheless, to make a true assessment of the value of the program or programs, their impact on civil liberties, and whether they have contributed to our efforts to prevent terrorism, we need to know much more. We need to know the facts.

That is why the Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Roberts, must act to hold extensive - and if necessary, secret - hearings on this program. On Thursday, February 16, the Intelligence Committee is holding a business meeting. I urge the committee to vote for a full and thorough investigation on that day.

Please join me in urging the Senate Intelligence Committee to hold extensive hearings and a thorough investigation of President Bush’s domestic surveillance program.

Through these hearings, in public whenever feasible, and in classified settings when necessary, we need to learn, among other things:

(1) the nature and scope of the program or programs;
(2) when did the program or programs begin;
(3) who has the authority to order a wiretap;
(4) how many people have this authority;
(5) how decisions are made on whom to target;
(6) how many terrorists or collaborators have been identified;
(7) how many arrests have been made as a result;
(8) what is done with the data collected that is not relevant;
(9) any procedures followed to protect civil liberties under the program or programs; and
(10) the reasons why the FISA warrant procedure was not followed.

I believe we can preserve the promise of our Founders — to simultaneously protect both our national security and our civil liberties. It is beyond me why the Administration did not seek amendments to FISA to meet its requirements when it sought and obtained changes in FISA during the PATRIOT Act and other legislative debates. But, at this point, Congress must now fulfill its Constitutional oversight responsibility.

Thank you,


Round One:

Round Two:

Fighting Terrorists on American Soil

February 10th, 2006

The following Op-Ed from Senator Biden appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer today.

Protect our infrastructure now
The administration has no plan for fighting terrorists on American soil. Here’s a start.
By Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.

President Bush has put huge efforts into chasing terrorists around the globe, but he has no plan for fighting them on our soil. Two months ago, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission flunked his administration on its homeland-security preparations, saying it’s time “we stop talking about setting priorities and actually set some” to protect our trains, ports and other infrastructure.

Last week, in his State of the Union address, the President had the chance to lay out a plan. He said he has “authorized a terrorist-surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaeda operatives.” In a word: wiretaps.

Everyone is for intercepting calls from al-Qaeda. But eavesdropping is not a nationwide security strategy. He is approaching this the same way he prepared for Hurricane Katrina. His lack of preparation didn’t work there, and it won’t work here.

Our infrastructure needs protecting. Every day, millions of people pass through train stations. Every day, 90-ton rail tankers filled with deadly chlorine gas roll unprotected through neighborhoods. If one were attacked in an urban area, 100,000 people could be killed or injured. But, astonishingly, the commission has discovered that the administration is willing to let another year go by before it starts to tighten things up.

Police, fire and rescue units still cannot communicate with each other or with federal agents. We haven’t consolidated terrorist watch lists to ensure that known terrorists will be caught whether they are trying to board a plane, get a student visa, or get stopped for speeding. Checking airline baggage for explosives - the one area where you would expect action - has, in the words of the 9/11 Commission, “not been made a priority.”

We must take immediate action. Following the State of the Union address, I proposed a measure to bring up the grades on our homeland-security report card. It would provide $41.97 billion over the next 10 years to improve on those areas where we received a “D” or “F” from the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, and it would provide critical funding for other areas where security is lagging.

The measure could be paid for by closing tax loopholes, including those that allow corporations to use abusive tax shelters (such as leasing foreign subway and sewer systems, $34 billion savings); that let oil companies avoid taxes on foreign operations ($9 billion); and that withhold taxes on government payments to contractors like Halliburton Co. ($7 billion). Ask Americans: Would you rather spend money securing ports or for wasteful tax loopholes? They would say: Make our ports safer.

Here are the steps I’ve proposed and that the President should take:

First, provide more funds to add local law enforcement personnel. Two-thirds of the country’s largest police agencies are facing officer shortages. Unbelievably, the President’s response has been to kill the one program that helped local agencies hire officers. It won’t be a Marine with night-vision goggles who stops the next attack; it will be a local police officer who happens to be in the right place at the right time.

Second, give first responders reliable communications equipment that allows them to talk to one another. Good communication is crucial to all emergency situations - including natural disasters. We have drastically underfunded this effort, and I fear we will pay for this penny-wise-and-pound-foolish approach.

Third, develop a plan for rail and transit security. Last summer’s attack in London showed how vulnerable rail systems are. We have done virtually nothing to upgrade our defenses. If we will simply do the basics - increase police presence in stations, add canine patrols to sniff for bombs, improve security fencing and lighting, and install closed-circuit cameras - we can greatly increase security.

Fourth, expand our use of new technologies, including machines that screen air cargo for explosives and examine shipping containers for radioactive material. We should integrate our terrorist watch lists and improve information sharing among agencies.

Finally, invest more funds and enforce tough regulations to better protect the systems we rely upon most: our electricity grid, computer networks and chemical plants.

The Bush administration should be embarrassed by the grades it received. Business as usual is no longer acceptable. The President needs a plan to achieve marks that will make the American people proud - and safer.


February 10th, 2006

Senator Biden is scheduled to appear on Air America’s The Al Franken Show today at 12:15 pm. You can listen live at:

Also, tune in to ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday at 9 a.m. Senator Biden will appear live from Wilmingtonright after a segment with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Never Again

February 9th, 2006


The Save Darfur Coalition has launched a Million Voices for Darfur campaign, an effort to raise awareness of the genocide taking place in Darfur and promote the actions necessary to end it.

The goal of the Million Voices for Darfur campaign is to generate one million hand-written and electronic postcards from Americans demanding a stronger and more effective U.S. response.

Click here to help

The following Op-Ed from Senator Biden appeared in the Baltimore Sun today addressing the continuing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Please read this and then visit to see how you can help.

U.S. must act now to end genocide in Sudan
By Joseph R. Biden Jr.
February 9, 2006

In the Darfur region of Sudan, a methodical and relentless genocide has taken place.

Since the terror began in early 2004, 180,000 to 400,000 Sudanese people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced by their government’s systematic campaign to eliminate the non-Arab and African tribal groups of Darfur.

Today, acts of genocide continue, and the security situation in Darfur has degenerated so badly that the United Nations and international aid agencies have dramatically scaled back operations in certain areas.

But there is reason to hope.

Last week, the United Nations, prodded by the United States, agreed to send a peacekeeping force to Darfur to take over a valiant but ineffective monitoring mission run by the African Union (AU). This is good news. But U.N. officials acknowledge it could take up to a year to deploy any U.N. forces - assuming member countries volunteer troops. That is simply not soon enough.

We can and should do better. NATO forces can be a bridge between the current AU mission - 7,000 soldiers strong - and any future U.N. mission.

NATO is already helping the AU with airlift support and training. We should increase NATO’s presence by deploying a few thousand NATO troops to work side by side with AU forces. Adding NATO’s experience and expertise to the AU effort would quickly improve security, save lives and allow thousands of refugees to return to their homes.

The presence of NATO forces would deliver an unequivocal message to the Sudanese government that the international community is committed to ending the violence. NATO troops could also effectively enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur and eliminate the threat of aerial bombardment of innocent men, women and children by Khartoum.

In order for NATO to act, a NATO member must step up and take the lead within the alliance. The United States should make it clear that we are prepared to take the political lead at NATO and willing to contribute U.S. troops to a NATO mission if need be.

In the 1990s, we failed to confront genocide in Rwanda. But we did act in Bosnia, and then in Kosovo, to stop ethnic cleansing. Neither mission was popular. But President Bill Clinton took decisive action because the consequences of inaction were simply too high: We could not stand by and allow Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his thugs to fill up more mass graves.

Today, we should not watch from a distance as the conflict in Darfur spins further out of control.

By systematically abusing its own people, the Sudanese government has ceded its sovereignty, and the plight of the victims is now the concern of every civilized society.

Darfur’s desolate terrain may not be of much value to America’s larger strategic interests. But the mass killing of innocent men, women and children should provoke our moral outrage.

By acting now, we can help prevent the worst moments of the last century from repeating themselves in this new one.

NPR’s Fresh Air

February 7th, 2006

Terry Gross interviewed Senator Biden on Tuesday on NPR’s Fresh Air. This is a wide ranging interview that covers everything from this week’s wire tap hearings to foreign policy to how the Senate has changed and what Senator Biden sees for himself and the future of the Democratic Party.

You can listen to the full interview at NPR

The transcript is available here.


February 7th, 2006


Later today, Tuesday, February 7th, Senator Biden will be the featured guest on NPR’s Fresh Air with host Terry Gross. Fresh Air is a nationally syndicated radio show heard by more than 4.7 million people on more than 450 public radio stations.

You can listen online at:

Perfect Environmental Score

February 7th, 2006

The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, a national conservation group, awarded U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. a lifetime score of 100% on their Conservation Report Card for 2005.

Biden earned the perfect rating based on his environmental voting record for 2005, when he cast several votes against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), along with other votes to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, outlaw destructive logging practices, and protect the American coastline.

Round Two

February 7th, 2006

Round Two:

After watching, please join Senator Biden in urging the Senate Intelligence Committee to hold extensive hearings and a thorough investigation of President Bush’s domestic surveillance program.

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