Monday, December 17, 2007



Please sign this petition to ensure that the 4th Amendment is obeyed by the NSA and other Exceutive branch agencies. Brought to you by Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake. Emptywheel reminds us WHY this is so important:

Senator Dodd, please remind your colleagues of the findings of the Church Report:

The findings which have emerged from our investigation convince us that the Government’s domestic intelligence policies and practices require fundamental reform. We have attempted to set out the basic facts; now it is time for Congress to turn its attention to legislating restraints upon intelligence activities which may endanger the constitutional rights of Americans.
The Committee’s fundamental conclusion is that intelligence activities have undermined the constitutional rights of citizens and that they have done so primarily because checks and balances designed by the framers of the Constitution to assure accountability have not been applied.
Before examining that conclusion, we make the following observations.

-While nearly all of our findings focus on excesses and things that went wrong, we do not question the need for lawful domestic intelligence. We recognize that certain intelligence activities serve perfectly proper and clearly necessary ends of government. Surely, catching spies and stopping crime, including acts of terrorism, is essential to insure “domestic tranquility” and to “provide for the common defense.” Therefore, the power of government to conduct proper domestic intelligence activities under effective restraints and controls must be preserved.

-We are aware that the few earlier efforts to limit domestic intelligence activities have proven ineffectual. This pattern reinforces the need for statutory restraints coupled with much more effective oversight from all branches of the Government.

-The crescendo of improper intelligence activity in the latter part of the 1960s and the early 1970s shows what we must watch out for: In time of crisis, the Government will exercise its power to conduct domestic intelligence activities to the fullest extent. The distinction between legal dissent and criminal conduct is easily forgotten. Our job is to recommend means to help ensure that the distinction will always be observed.

-In an era where the technological capability of Government relentlessly increases, we must be wary about the drift toward “big brother government.” The potential for abuse is awesome and requires special attention to fashioning restraints which not only cure past problems but anticipate and prevent the future misuse of technology.

-We cannot dismiss what we have found as isolated acts which were limited in time and confined to a few willful men. The failures to obey the law and, in the words of the oath of office, to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution, have occurred repeatedly throughout administrations of both political parties going back four decades.

-We must acknowledge that the assignment which the Government has given to the intelligence community has, in many ways, been impossible to fulfill. It has been expected to predict or prevent every crisis, respond immediately with information on any question, act to meet all threats, and anticipate the special needs of Presidents. And then it is chastised for its zeal. Certainly, a fair assessment must place a major part of the blame upon the failures of senior executive officials and Congress.

In the final analysis, however, the purpose of this Committee’s work is not to allocate blame among individuals. Indeed, to focus on personal culpability may divert attention from the underlying institutional causes and thus may become an excuse for inaction.

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