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Blog of Mass Destruction

Dependence Day

By The Reverend Published: July 4, 2008

Just in case you have forgotten, or perhaps never heard one talk before, the following is what a true American patriot sounds like....

“I’m pleased we were able to delay a vote on FISA until after the July 4th holiday instead of having it jammed through," said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who had been leading the effort to oppose the bill along with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

"I hope that over the July Fourth holiday, senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people. It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation,” Feingold added. Link

A true American patriot doesn't wrap himself up in the flag while speaking glowingly about war. A true American patriot defends the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America. Any talk at all about patriotism which avoids mention of faithfulness to the laws and Constitution of America isn't even worth listening to.

A federal judge in California said Wednesday (two days ago) that the wiretapping law established by Congress (in 1978) was the “exclusive” means for the president to eavesdrop on Americans, and he rejected the government’s claim that the president’s constitutional authority as commander in chief trumped that law.

The judge, Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge for the Northern District of California, made his findings in a ruling on a lawsuit brought by an Oregon charity. The group says it has evidence of an illegal wiretap used against it by the National Security Agency under the secret surveillance program established by President Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Congress appears clearly to have intended to — and did — establish the exclusive means for foreign intelligence activities to be conducted,” the judge wrote. “Whatever power the executive may otherwise have had in this regard, FISA limits the power of the executive branch to conduct such activities and it limits the executive branch’s authority to assert the state secrets privilege in response to challenges to the legality of its foreign intelligence surveillance activities.” Link

Much has been said about the telecom immunity portion of H.R. 6304....but the provision legalizing the wholesale vacuuming up of American's electronic communications without probable cause or warrants, or even any meaningful far more troubling.

...the old FISA allowed NSA to conduct a wiretap for up to 72 hours while waiting for FISA approval. The new bill extends this to a week, allows the surveillance to continue during appeals, and permits the government to use any of the information it collects even if the FISA court eventually rules that the tap is unlawful. This pretty obviously opens the door to some fairly serious abuse in the future.

We're tapping the phones of anyone who fits a hazy and seldom accurate profile that NSA finds vaguely suspicious, a profile that inevitably includes plenty of calls in which one end is a U.S. citizen. But the new FISA bill doesn't require NSA to get a warrant for any of these individuals or groups, it only requires a FISA judge to approve the broad contours of the profiling software.

...the decision about which U.S. citizens to spy on is being vested in a small group of technicians operating in secret and creating criteria that virtually no one else understands. Link

Today is Independence Day, a day commemorating our nation's declaration of independence from British rule. Fireworks, flag waving, lofty speeches, quotable quotes....will all be part of this commemoration.

Noticeable by it's absence will be much, if any, serious discussion about how a nation that prides itelf on a Constitutional form of independent rule has become so dependent, recently, on the whims of men rather than established American law.

Today we celebrate Independence week the Senate will pass a bill, basically rejecting the rule of law and the 4th amendment to the Constitution pertaining to government spying on Americans.

That's not Independence. That is Dependence on men.



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