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

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

See you in September

Reid: Senate Will Explore Long-Term Fixes To FISA In September

Washington, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter today to Senators Jay Rockefeller and Pat Leahy, encouraging them to develop long-term modernizations to FISA that better serve our national security interests than the law signed by President Bush this month:

August 14, 2007

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Jay and Pat:

On August 3rd the Senate passed and on August 5th President Bush signed legislation (Public Law 110-55) providing temporary six-month changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in light of the Director of National Intelligence’s expressed concerns about a recently-emerged gap in foreign counterterrorism intelligence collection. This issue was given even greater urgency because of the recently-published National Intelligence Estimate on the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland, which indicates that, after six years of Bush Administration counterterrorism efforts, the threat to the homeland today from Al Qaeda is nearly as great as it was before 9/11.

I know both of you share my disappointment at the process that led to passage of the recent law, and at the flawed outcome itself, which you and I and many others strongly opposed. The temporary authorities in the new law will sunset in six months. While these temporary authorities are in effect, I support all efforts by your two committees to conduct vigorous and comprehensive oversight of their implementation.

I also know that your committees have been working exhaustively on sound options for a longer-term change to FISA, even though your work has been hindered by lack of cooperation from the Administration in providing relevant information. When the Senate reconvenes in September, I fully support your committees working expeditiously together and in a bipartisan manner to develop a longer-term statutory change that better serves American national security interests and comports with the Constitution and proper judicial and congressional oversight. I would like to see the full Senate consider as soon as possible a bill reported by your committees that addresses the deficiencies in the recently-enacted law and any other matter you believe must be addressed.

Thank you for your leadership on these matters.



Uh huh.

Hey Harry, look! Our own military spy satellites have now been turned on us!

Until now, only a handful of federal civilian agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey, have had access to the most basic spy-satellite imagery, and only for the purpose of scientific and environmental study.

--- snip ---

Access to the high-tech surveillance tools would, for the first time, allow Homeland Security and law-enforcement officials to see real-time, high-resolution images and data, which would allow them, for example, to identify smuggler staging areas, a gang safehouse, or possibly even a building being used by would-be terrorists to manufacture chemical weapons.

--- snip ---

Coming on the back of legislation that upgraded the administration's ability to wiretap terrorist suspects without warrants, the development is likely to heat up debate about the balance between civil liberties and national security.

--- snip ---

In recent years, some military experts have questioned whether domestic use of such satellites would violate the Posse Comitatus Act. The act bars the military from engaging in law-enforcement activity inside the U.S., and the satellites were predominantly built for and owned by the Defense Department.

According to Pentagon officials, the government has in the past been able to supply information from spy satellites to federal law-enforcement agencies, but that was done on a case-by-case basis and only with special permission from the president.

Even the architects of the current move are unclear about the legal boundaries. A 2005 study commissioned by the U.S. intelligence community, which recommended granting access to the spy satellites for Homeland Security, noted: "There is little if any policy, guidance or procedures regarding the collection, exploitation and dissemination of domestic MASINT." MASINT stands for Measurement and Signatures Intelligence, a particular kind of information collected by spy satellites which would for the first time become available to civilian agencies.

According to defense experts, MASINT uses radar, lasers, infrared, electromagnetic data and other technologies to see through cloud cover, forest canopies and even concrete to create images or gather data.

Thanks guys! Should I now wave at the sky every time I go outside to water my tomatoes? Offer the sky a tomato? A cookie? Thank the sky for keeping me safe? Apologize to the sky for the fact that I didn't shower and brush my hair before watering the tomatoes; and that perhaps my appearance in my own yard isn't spiffy and presentable?

You senators have done so much for me -- I'm just not sure how I could ever repay you. Never in our history has a presidential administration - with the capitulation of an opposition congress - done so much to undermine the rights and privacy of the American people. I'm truly honored to have lived to see your historic precedence.

In fact, I feel a song coming on...

See you in September (by Harry Reid & the Senators!)

I'll be awake each and every night
While you're away, I'm afraid to write

Bye-bye, so long, farewell
Bye-bye, so long

See you in September
See you when the summer's through
Here we are (4th amendment, goodbye)
Saying goodbye via FISA (Constitution, goodbye)
Congressional vacation (4th amendment, goodbye)
Is taking you away (Constitution, goodbye)

We were free once but remember
There is danger in the summer moon above
Will I see you in September
Or lose you to a summer vote
(counting the days 'til I'll be with you)
(counting the hours and the minutes, too)

4th amendment, goodbye
Constitution, goodbye
4th amendment, goodbye (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
Constitution, goodbye (bye-bye, so long)

We were free once but remember
There is danger in the summer moon above
Will I see you in September
Or lose you to a summer vote
(I'll be awake each and every night)
(While you're away, I'm afraid to write)

See you (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
In September (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
I'm hopin' I'll
See you (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
In September (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
Well, maybe I'll
See you (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
In September (bye-bye, so long, farewell)

Today's poll on the WSJ:

How well does the U.S. balance national security with individual liberty?

Leans too far toward security Leans too far toward liberty Balances them about right

6307 votes
917 votes
1097 votes

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