August 17th, 2006

fashionable

So, what about Iraq lately?

While a cursory look at US fatalities in Iraq lately might make you think that things are getting better, a closer look indicates quite the opposite.

While the number of Americans killed in action per month has declined slightly — to 38 killed in action in July, from 42 in January, in part reflecting improvements in armor and other defenses — the number of Americans wounded has soared, to 518 in July from 287 in January. Explosive devices accounted for slightly more than half the deaths.
 
An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed per day in July, according to figures from Iraq's Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue. At least 3,438 civilians died violently that month, a 9 percent increase over the total in June and nearly twice as many as in January. Although these figures are generally seen as an underreporting of the total number of civilian deaths, they seem to indicate that  July has been the deadliest month of the conflict for Iraqi civilians.

“The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels. The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time.”

 - a senior Defense Department official, speaking with The New York Times on condition of anonymity

So.... why do senior officials at the DoD hate America?
Perhaps they get all weepy-eyed when soldiers come home either maimed for life, or in a casket, rather than viewing them in a more fungible, expendable manner like Donald Rumsfeld does?
fashionable

Testify!

"There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution."
 - U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor

As said in a 44-page ruling, striking down the Bush administration's illegal, unconstitutional eavesdropping on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens without obtaining a warrant.

Whle this decision is a powerful one, there are elements to it that I still find a bit troubling. 

Basically, there are two core sections to this case:
1> The existance of a secret, warrantless NSA program that monitors email and phone calls, which the government has admitted to on several occasions.
2> The claims of data-mining, how wide it is, who it effects, etc., as cited by the whistleblower.

The judge agreed with the government that the data-mining elements to the case would, by definition, reveal states secrets, and decided to grant the government summary judgement, effectively dismissing that part of the lawsuit.

That said, the judge agreed with the other argument raised, that said that the government's own admission to the program's existence, and the fact that it doesn't require warrants was enough for to rule on... which the judge did... which, if I read it right, rules the entire NSA program, including the data mining, unconstitutional..

This, of course, does not necessarily prevent the executive branch from trying to authorize such a program again in the future, and simply not admit to its existance... though the head of the NSA might view this decision as grounds not to accept such a request, if it ever came down the pipe... unless, of course, Attorney General provided some kind of bullshit argument for why it was legal.           

So, barring appeals, if this ruling sticks, I guess the government is going to have to get a warrant first. That's not really very hard to do, and wouldn't get in the way of them monitoring suspected terrorists, but it might make all the rest of us who appreciate our rights breathe a little easier.

Not only has Guantanamo been ruled unconstitutional, so has monitoring people's communications without a warrant. Go figure.

If you're a U.S. citizen who agrees with these decisions, supports the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and believes that the laws should clearly define what the government can and cannot do in order to protect our basic liberties, then it might be worth supporting these people, as they're the ones who brought the cases to court and won. 

If, of course, you don't believe in supporting the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, well... then what are you doing here?!