Bush, GOP fascists snuck in law to allow reading your mail without a warrant - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2007, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Bush, GOP fascists snuck in law to allow reading your mail without a warrant

Fuck this fascist pig and his "signing statements". Impeach the motherfucker:


Warrantless mail searches may be allowed
Civil libertarians alarmed; White House says stance is no change in policy

Jan. 4: President Bush says the government has the legal right to read Americans' mail without a warrant.


WASHINGTON -(MSNBC) A statement attached to postal legislation by President Bush last month may have opened the way for the government to open mail without a warrant.

The White House denies any change in policy, but civil libertarians are alarmed, saying the government has never publicly claimed that power before.

Federal law has long required a search warrant to open first class mail unless postal inspectors suspect it contains something dangerous, like a bomb or a hazardous chemical, reports NBC News' Pete Williams.

But in signing a postal bill just before Christmas, President Bush said federal law also gives the government authority to open the mail "for foreign intelligence collection."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said that's nothing new. “All this is saying is that there are provisions at law for — in exigent circumstances — for such inspections. It has been thus. This is not a change in law, this is not new.”

"What the signing statement indicates is what present law allows, in making it clear what the provisions are," Snow said Thursday in his daily briefing.

But members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — say that's not what they intended the law to do. And they call it another example of a president claiming new legal authority while signing a bill into law.

“I was really surprised. There was absolutely nothing in the Postal Reform bill that in any way diminished or changed the privacy protections for domestic sealed mail,” Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said.

The law requires government agents to get warrants to open first-class letters.

But when Bush signed the Postal Reform act, he added a statement saying that his administration would construe that provision “in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances. ...”

“The signing statement raises serious questions whether he is authorizing opening of mail contrary to the Constitution and to laws enacted by Congress,” said Ann Beeson, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “What is the purpose of the signing statement if it isn’t that?”

She said the group is planning to file request for information on how this exception will be used and also asking whether it has already been used to open mail.

Schumer critical of action
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., also criticized Bush’s action.

“Every American wants foolproof protection against terrorism. But history has shown it can and should be done within the confines of the Constitution. This last-minute, irregular and unauthorized reinterpretation of a duly passed law is the exact type of maneuver that voters so resoundingly rejected in November,” Schumer said.

The ACLU’s Beeson noted that there has been an exception allowing postal inspectors to open items they believe might contain a bomb.

“His signing statement uses language that’s broader than that exception,” she said.

Bush uses the phrase “exigent circumstances”: “The question is what does that mean and why has he suddenly putting this in writing if this isn’t a change in policy,” Beeson said.

In addition to suspecting a bomb or getting a warrant, the law allows postal officials to open letters that can’t be delivered as addressed — but only to determine if they can find a correct address or a return address.

Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, more than all other presidents combined, according to the American Bar Association.

Reserving the right to make changes
Typically, presidents have used signing statements for such purposes as instructing executive agencies how to carry out new laws.

Bush’s statements often reserve the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.

“That non-veto hamstrings Congress because Congress cannot respond to a signing statement,” ABA president Michael Greco has said. The practice, he added, “is harming the separation of powers.”

The president’s action was first reported by the New York Daily News.

The full signing statement said:

“The executive branch shall construe subsection 404(c) of title 39, as enacted by subsection 1010(e) of the act, which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection, in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances, such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials, and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.”

NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2007, 07:19 PM
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I sat in on a technology demo yesterday that was scary. Once the analog security cameras that make up 90 percent of the cameras currently installed are replaced over time with IP cameras...Little Brother will be watching in ways that would make your skin crawl.

The people in the room with me were supposed to be favorably impressed. We were all creeped out. Except for some people from the "jail industry".
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2007, 07:19 PM
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Was this so they could read playboy without paying for a subscription, or dealing with their wives?

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2007, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveN007
I sat in on a technology demo yesterday that was scary. Once the analog security cameras that make up 90 percent of the cameras currently installed are replaced over time with IP cameras...Little Brother will be watching in ways that would make your skin crawl.

The people in the room with me were supposed to be favorably impressed. We were all creeped out. Except for some people from the "jail industry".
In 1983 I wrote a short sci-fi story describing exactly that.

It was even published.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2007, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maine_coon
In 1983 I wrote a short sci-fi story describing exactly that.

It was even published.
Yeah, but were there flying cars in your story?



I just watched Back to the Future II with my kids. The "future" is 2015. And the cars fly.

Just 8 more years.

Once everything is "on the web". Game over.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2007, 09:26 PM
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You should pick up this novel I just finished last night. The Footprints of God by Greg Iles. ISBN 0-7434-5414-6.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-05-2007, 04:21 PM
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Sounds like these "signing statements" need testing by the Supreme Court. Not that I think they may be struck down, but that's where they need to go next.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-05-2007, 04:49 PM
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So from the article, the full text of his signing statement was:
Quote:
“The executive branch shall construe subsection 404(c) of title 39, as enacted by subsection 1010(e) of the act, which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection, in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances, such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials, and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.”
"To the maximum extent permissible" imports any legally permissible reason. That's meaningless legal doublespeak. They are already permitted to do that.

"The need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances" uses legal terms of art, specifically, "exigent circumstances", which have been construed, applied and massaged by thousands of written decisions by both Federal and State courts applying the fourth amendment.

"The need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection" is also meaningless repetitive legal doublespeak. If it's specifically authorized by law, it's permissible and can be done anyway.

Two things stand out for me. One is the apparent attempt to somehow construe "exigent circumstances" by the modifying language "such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials". Any court reviewing that would simply use that as an example (the such as being a dead giveaway) and see if it meets the well-defined body of law construing "exigent circumstances". It's been a long time since I studied Crim Pro and Crim Law, but at least at that time, an immediate need "to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials" would clearly qualify as an exigent circumstance such that -- for example -- the police would not need a warrant to conduct a search of person or property. So nothing of any real significance here, either.

So the other thing that stands out is, why in the world do this at all? While technically I think I'd agree with Tony that this doesn't really make any change to the law, then the question is still, WHY do it then? And the only answer I can think of is twofold. One, so the administration can look like it's doing something important, "Hey, look at this big signal to terrorists, we're going to be poised and ready to be searching for stuff." The other -- and perhaps more disturbing reason -- is that it's an indication the administration wants the mail inspected more rigorously than it is presently. Where that leads? Lawsuits, mail delays, seized mail, etc., etc.

One thing is for sure: Your IRS bills won't be impeded.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. (Winston Churchill)
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