Sunday, May 6, 2007

From the Vault: Unconstitutional Warrantless Wiretapping

Amendment IV

"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. "

Since the fourth amendment explicitly calls for all searches and seizures of American citizens to have judicial oversight, what happens in cases where time is of the essence and seconds count? Are we supposed to wait for a judge to approve a warrant? Absolutely not, the 1978 FISA law sets up a provision for just this purpose where warrants can be attained retroactively within 72 hours of initial surveillance. This ensures that both security and constitutionality can be protected. It worked fine for almost thirty years. Which brings the question, why was the fourth amendment and FISA law ignored by this administration?

"Now, in terms of legal authorities, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides -- requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I've just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow -- there is -- unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That's what the law requires. Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence."

Alberto Gonzales, December 19, 2005

Now wait one second, Mr. Gonzales. The authorization makes no mention of these powers. It seems rather contradictory that an administration that appoints “strict constructionists” is making up laws through a very, very loose interpretation of the authorization of force. He then went on to say in the same briefing:

"This is not a backdoor approach. We believe Congress has authorized this kind of surveillance. We have had discussions with Congress in the past -- certain members of Congress -- as to whether or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible."

Excuse me Mr. Gonzales, but if congress gave you those powers in the authorization of force, which makes no mention of those powers, and you had previous discussions with congress on changing the FISA law, which you were told that it probably wouldn’t pass through congress, how can you possibly say that congress gave you those powers in the authorization? That doesn’t make sense. Well, let’s ask Mr. Bush why he has to circumvent the law:

"…the FISA law was written in 1978. We're having this discussion in 2006. It's a different world. And FISA is still an important tool. It's an important tool. And we still use that tool. But also -- and we -- look -- I said, look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law? And people said, it doesn't work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do. And so that's why I made the decision I made. And you know, "circumventing" is a loaded word, and I refuse to accept it, because I believe what I'm doing is legally right."

George W. Bush, January 26, 2006

Okay, “circumventing the law” may be the wrong choice of words, how about BREAKING THE LAW? And that apparent “28 year limit” on laws that you use as your argument is a new one. I will be sure to use it next April when I am supposed to send in my tax return. I will simply write the IRS a letter stating that the 16th amendment is 90+ years old, this is 2007. It’s a whole different world, thus my payment is not necessary. I feel the constitution is on my side.

No comments: