Sarah Palin, running for vice president in a third Bush Administration, recently put some unpatriotic bastard at one of McCain’s increasingly unhinged rallies right in his place: “Bless your heart sir. My son is over in Iraq fighting for your right to protest right now.”

No doubt it is that kind of sentiment that moves many military men and women, particularly at war and facing a population back home who for years now believes our presence in Iraq was a mistake from the beginning. Let’s put aside for a moment that fighting for the rights of anti-war protesters was never why American men and women were spilling blood in Iraq.

Instead, let’s take a look at yet another example of how our Republican leaders value our so-called American rights and freedoms, and then ask, what exactly is it that we’re fighting for? Does Sarah Palin even know? Other than the freedom to assemble with secessionist movements, or practice a religion that indulges witch doctors, is she truly interested in defending the Bill of Rights, or is it just more “lip service”?

From the NYT yesterday (emphasis mine): The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, said Thursday that the committee would investigate claims by two military eavesdroppers that they routinely listened in on private calls home from American military officers, aid workers and journalists stationed in Iraq. (snip)

The two former intelligence officers, Adrienne Kinne, an Army reservist, and David Murfee Faulk, a Navy linguist, spoke Thursday to ABC News. They also were interviewed for a book on the National Security Agency by James Bamford, a former ABC producer and author of two earlier books on the agency, that is scheduled for publication next week.

Ms. Kinne and Mr. Faulk, both Arabic linguists, were based at Fort Gordon, Ga., where the N.S.A. has a large listening post focused on the Middle East. Ms. Kinne was there from 2001 to 2003 and Mr. Faulk was there from 2003 to 2007, Mr. Bamford said. (snip)

Mr. Faulk told ABC that he and his colleagues listened to “personal phone calls of American officers, mostly in the Green Zone, calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends.”

He said the eavesdroppers would swap recordings of intimate calls for entertainment. “At times I was told: ‘Hey, check this out. There’s some good phone sex,’ ” he said.

Mr. Faulk said that when another eavesdropper protested that they were personal calls and should not be transcribed, a supervisor replied, “My orders were to transcribe everything.”

Under so-called minimization rules, an eavesdropper who inadvertently picks up an American’s private call is required to cut off the monitoring immediately and not to transcribe or keep a recording of the call.

Ms. Kinne spoke of listening to aid workers and journalists. She said the calls had often involved “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.”

It was unclear whether the intercepts the two former intelligence officers described were part of the program of surveillance without warrants that President Bush approved shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks. He and other officials said that program intercepted only calls of people believed to be linked to Al Qaeda. (snip)

Mark Mansfield, a spokesman for Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was director of the N.S.A. from 1999 to 2005 and is now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said he had never approved illegal eavesdropping. “The notion that General Hayden sanctioned or tolerated illegalities of any sort is ridiculous on its face,” Mr. Mansfield said.