Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Spying on me, part... III? IV? V?

This time, from the Washington Post (if they're covering it, its a disaster:)

An internal FBI audit has found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, far more than was documented in a Justice Department report in March that ignited bipartisan congressional criticism.

Well isn't that special. Aren't I so very surprised. Like the Justice Department could ever be accused of telling the truth.

I wonder - has the FBI also been reduced to just another partisan arm of the Bush/Cheney/Rove RNC squad (like every other department of the Federal government?) I wonder what the chances are that this is not the case? I can't imagine that Rove Inc. would have overlooked the FBI, when seeding partisan yes-men throughout the ranks of government.

The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau's national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI's domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand, bureau officials said in interviews. The earlier report found 22 violations in a much smaller sampling.

Between 2002 and 2006, the FBI identified 26 potential violations in its use of National Security Letters to gather phone, Internet and bank records without traditional warrants. A 2007 Justice Department report that sampled a small number of cases found 22 additional violations, raising the total to 48. That report prompted the FBI to review 10 percent of the cases since 2002. The number of potential violations found has now grown to more than 1,000 as a result of that review.

-- snip --

But two dozen of the newly-discovered violations involved agents' requests for information that U.S. law did not allow them to have, according to the audit results provided to The Washington Post. Only two such examples were identified earlier in the smaller sample.

Yeah. Probably just 1000 innocent mistakes in a tiny, 10% testing sample. Probably just a few FBI agents who don't understand the law or the Constitution. No partisan intent here, of course not, none whatsoever. There isn't any partisan intent anywhere else in our government.

I am so sick of the bullshit.

Is it my turn to scream 'PARTISAN' back at you, Mr. Lott and Mr. Stevens? Or can I simply throw the Constitution in your face and remind you of your oaths again? This isn't the Yankees vs. the Red Sox; this is our government, our laws, and our freedom on the auction block.

All partisan, all the time.

I'm wasting bandwidth even talking to you, but if we citizens don't scream -- who will? If you don't hear each other (mostly all rich guys in matching gray suits;) you surely won't care what I think. But I care about my country.

Jon Stewart was right; you don't listen to each other, and you don't even make sense. I watched the coverage of your hamstrung Gonzales vote-to-not-vote on C-Span, and felt like I was eavesdropping on a Country Club award dinner... or perhaps a roast. Of course you weren't all patting each other on the backs, oh no; you only pat members of your own party, then scream 'partisan!' at everyone on the other side of the aisle. Issues be damned. Law be damned.

Great governing, guys. Terrific job. And thank you! Little wonder that you can't get anything done, any bills passed. Maybe if you all vote to give yourselves a raise, or award yourselves new golf clubs, you can find some common ground at last.

But back to the real issue at hand; the one you obviously won't protect us from:

The change -- combined with national anxiety about another domestic terrorist event -- led to an explosive growth in the use of the (National Security) letters. More than 19,000 such letters were issued in 2005 seeking 47,000 pieces of information, mostly from telecommunications companies. But with this growth came abuse of the newly relaxed rules, a circumstance first revealed in the Justice Department's March report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

Wait a minute... roll that truck back. The 'national anxiety about another domestic terrorist event?'

I felt no such anxiety. Did you ask me?

Oh sure, another terrorist attack may happen -- it is probably guaranteed now; now that we've rampaged through the Middle East, sowing destruction and anti-American sentiments like an angry bull in a china shop. But back when this all started after 9/11, and despite what your ditzy corporate media mouths were saying, not all of us were cowering under our beds. No sir.

Not one damn person asked me - an American citizen - if I was so terribly scared that I would give up my constitutional rights in the hope that next time (unlike last time, when the threats were received in advance) my government will intervene.

Here's the rub. Generations of Americans have faced 'danger' and 'fear' and 'insecurity,' and never once did they gut the Constitution. Not once!

Who are we to be so cowardly, so weak-kneed, and so swayed by our media's propaganda that we would ever consider giving up the very heart of what our ancestors fought and died to protect? No one asked me, and no one asked any other American citizen. The media said 'Americans are scared,' the President said 'I will make them safe;' and then proceeded to spy on us... not the terrorists. Us.

This isn't about terrorists, this is about power. The American people are not terrorists in their own homes and in their own country.

And yes I do take offense. And yes, I'm mad as hell.

You Senators who think of nothing but partisan name-calling: you have no idea what 'defending the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic' means.

Does this all sound vaguely like a Keith Olbermann rant? Well I'm sick of reading things like this. And I'm sick of seeing that no one in Congress will do a damned thing to stop it.

I have spent many hours of my life reading about historic struggles in our past, and admiring those who stood up for me -- before I was even born. Imagine my disgust at you, my Senators, when you can't even differentiate between the law and selfish, party interests.

You are no one's representatives. You have betrayed us all. If that isn't worth a little rant... what is?

UPDATE: Appears at least someone in the House is angry too:

The Democratic Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties expressed outrage at a report about how FBI agents possibly violated a surveillance law over and over again while misusing the National Security Letter (NSL) authority vastly expanded by the Patriot Act.

-- snip --

In a press release sent to RAW STORY, New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who also co-chairs the bipartisan Patriot Act Reform Caucus stated, "Today's reports only heighten the clear need for fixes to the NSL authority. The Justice Department's Inspector General previously found wide-spread abuses of the FBI's authority to issue NSLs - we now know that the problems go much further than initially disclosed. From the beginning, I have said that unchecked power would lead to rampant abuse. It's clear, yet again, that reforms are needed."

"These abuses by the DOJ and FBI have proven that legislative fixes are necessary," Nadler continued. "In the coming weeks, I plan on holding continued oversight hearings on the NSL authority as part of a series of hearing entitled, 'The Constitution in Crisis: The State of Civil Liberties in America.' I will also work with my colleagues to consider and craft legislation that would place adequate checks on the FBI's investigatory power."

Nadler added, "The new FBI guidelines regarding the use of NSLs fall far short of protecting the privacy of innocent Americans. It is not enough to mandate that the FBI fix internal management problems and record keeping, because the statute itself authorizes the unchecked collection of information on innocent Americans."

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