Wed, 15 Feb 2006
Continuous integration and testing conference
A message from Paul Julius and Jeffrey Fredrick about a conference:
Jeffrey Fredrick and Paul Julius are cohosting an event that will
focus on [continuous integration and testing]. The event will use Open Spaces to structure
conversation, understanding and innovation.
What: Open Space event discussing all aspects of CI and Testing, together
Where: Chicago, IL
When: April 7 & 8, 2006
Who: Everyone interested in CI and Testing
We'll be inviting people for all manner of projects and places. In fact,
feel free to pass this invitation along to anyone that you think will
For us to finalize the details of time and place we need to get a feel
for how many people are likely to attend. If you are interested in
attending please join the CITCON mailing list at:
and post an introductory message. In your message it would be useful if
you could indicate any topics of special interest and also
how likely you are to attend.
## Posted at 07:53 in category /testing
George Washington on warrantless surveillance
Author's note: I know that at most five people want to read my
thoughts on the traditional separation of powers. It's just that
public discourse in the US is so broken, unserious, and
partisan that I sometimes get this image of my college-age children, ten
years hence, asking
what I did about it. And then I write something so that I can
tell them then that back in 2006
I commanded the
tide to stop. Take heart, though. Coming up are a few postings on
model-view-presenter, web applications, and the testing implications.
So here's the way I understand it.
Congress established a court and a law, FISA, governing the
wiretapping of foreign intelligence agents. That
court has rarely denied a warrant, though they've modified some
Warrantless surveillance is allowed for fifteen days (after
days (to gather evidence to be used for a warrant application),
year (but only of foreign nationals).
The Bush administration has a program
which admittedly collects communications
of US citizens without a FISA warrant. This program
is justified in several ways:
The three-day period is too short.
The authorization to use military force that followed 9/11 is a
statute, the FISA law explicitly says it applies "except as
authorized by statute", and the statute acted to trigger
that exception. Therefore, judicial oversight is not
needed. (Some of the lawmakers have denied that the law was intended
to modify FISA in this way, pointing
to explicit provisions that were rejected, but the
Administration's argument is that the law says what it says.)
The President's constitutional role as Commander in Chief
overrules, in this case, the Congress's constitutional role of
making the laws the Executive executes.
Therefore, congressional authorization is not needed.
Other presidents exercised the same power. (There is
much argument about how true that is.)
My opinion on all this is in accord with Ronald
but verify" (1989) and George
Address (1796), in which he said:
It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free
country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its
administration, to confine themselves within their respective
constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one
department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends
to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to
create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just
estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which
predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the
truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the
exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into
different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the
public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by
experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under
our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute
them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or
modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong,
let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution
designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this,
in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary
weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must
always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient
benefit, which the use can at any time yield.
refused to describe limitations on its powers. When signing new laws
(such as the recent torture ban), the President has expressly
reserved the right to bypass them because of his commander-in-chief
power. Other presidents have used "signing statements" in the same
way, but this one uses
more often. (As far as I know, the legal force of signing
statements has yet to be decided.)
Further, to my knowledge, the Administration has not proposed any
bills to remedy the claimed defects in FISA. (In the searching that
led to all these links, I found claims that the Republican majority
had offered such, but were rebuffed. I didn't find primary sources,
though.) By going the legislative route, they would
involve all three branches of government in these important decisions.
The Executive branch is not showing the caution that Washington called for. It's
unconservative, since conservatism—if it is to mean
anything—ought to mean a healthy distrust of messing with what
works in hope of something better.
I'm a strange mixture of conservative and what (in the US) is
called liberal. But when it comes to the American presumption that
you need a system designed to work
despite being run by knaves and scoundrels,
not because it's run by wise men, I'm conservative.
Until the Administration demonstrates that they are being cautious
about encroaching on the other branches (by, say, giving examples of
potential wartime powers they do not claim), or argues
publicly that they require more powers, the people of the US should
urge their representatives in Congress to push back against any
appearance of usurpation.
P.S. I know from Google searching that many people can not
distinguish an argument about separation of powers from a desire to
leave Al Qaeda's phones untapped. So just let me say that I don't
have enough information to have an opinion about the specific
surveillance in question.
## Posted at 07:52 in category /misc