Monday, December 19, 2005

Does Bush’s Domestic Spying Violate the Law?

Amendment IV to the Constitution of the United States

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

It’s simple. There are no exceptions. No one – not congress nor the president – has the legal power or authority to make exceptions.

The congress cannot grant the president permission to conduct warrantless searches. The president cannot grant himself this power. The president should be impeached, quickly. He is a criminal. He has violated the Constitution, he has violated his oath of office, and he has violated the rights of Americans. It’s time to stop this despot before his ways of doing things become entrenched. If Bush gets away with these crimes, the 4th Amendment will be rendered meaningless, and we will all be subject to search and seizure at any time, with no oversight.

We're also losing the 5th and 6th Amendments (jury trials, due process, speedy public trials, habeus corpus) and the 8th (cruel and unusual punishment). George Bush's legacy will be the institutionalization of a police state in America if he's not stopped.


By DAVID BURNHAM, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (NYT) 1051 words Published: November 7, 1982

A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most secretive intelligence agencies and because millions of electronic messages enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in the legal authority of the Government to keep track of its citizens.

Reverses 1979 Ruling

The Oct. 21 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit involves the Government's surveillance of a Michiganborn lawyer, Abdeen Jabara, who for many years has represented Arab-American citizens and alien residents in court. Some of his clients had been investigated by the F.B.I.

Mr. Jabara sued the F.B.I, and the National Security Agency, and in 1979 Federal District Judge Ralph M. Freeman ruled that the agency's acquisition of several of Mr. Jabara's overseas messages violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of ''unreasonable searches and seizures.'' Last month's decision reverses that ruling.

In earlier court proceedings, the F.B.I. acknowledged that it then disseminated the information to 17 other law-enforcement or intelligence agencies and three foreign governments.

The opinion of the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals held, ''The simple fact remains that the N.S.A. lawfully acquired Jabara's messages.''

The court ruled further that the lawyer's Fourth Amendment rights ''were not violated when summaries of his overseas telegraphic messages'' were furnished to the investigative bureau ''irrespective of whether there was reasonable cause to believe that he was a foreign agent.''
What's surprising is that it's already so easy for the NSA to get a warrant from the FISC. How ambiguous was the info DoJ needed that they had to bypass the most permissive court in the country for search and seizure?
If Givernment's point is that the courts don't understand the Constitution either, then the point is well-taken. (I hope your point wasn't "see, it's actually legal, the court sez so.")

Brian, you're also right on target, although I suspect that the FISA is also unconstitutional. And as you point out on Stalinist Orange, the FISC's ability to issue retroactive warrants really damns Bush's argument.

I should add that I'm not so naive as to think that the feds haven't been violating the Cosntitution wholesale in the past. But the current admin's actions are so open and so blatant as to appear to end any import of the document, if they get away with this.
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