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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Had enough yet? Is it time for outrage now?
Posted by Jill | 8:18 AM
I guess all that mail I get from the ACLU and Wellstone Action and the Kripalu Center is going to be examined carefully by the Administration and logged in my file in Washington so they'll have evidence that I'm a dangerous subversive when they round me up and put me in one of those KBR camps.

Because I fail to see what the point is, especially if Bush is planning to send 20,000 additional troops to "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here", of reading my or anyone else's mail:

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.
The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush's move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

"Despite the President's statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.

"The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

"The danger is they're reading Americans' mail," she said.

"You have to be concerned," agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush's claim. "It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we've ever known."

A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised, "It's something we're going to look into."

Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane reform measures. But it also explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval.

Yet in his statement Bush said he will "construe" an exception, "which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent ... with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances."

And a note to you wingnuts who for some reason like to comment here: Spare me your vapors about how he's only going to read terrorists' mail, or that it's only going to be in what he calls "exigent circumstances." The President of the United States is a certifiable lunatic, and cannot be trusted to be the determinant, or the decider, if you must, of what constitutes an emergency. The fact of the matter is that this man decides, through signing statements, which part of the Constitution he is sworn to uphold he feels like adhering to and from which his self-appointed role as the Decider exempts him.

Here's the Fourth Amendment, for those of you still urinating in your pants because of the 9/11 attacks:

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.

What part of that do you not understand?

(via Atrios, who in a post last week seemed a bit defensive, as if he'd read my post about the Alpha Dogs of Blogtopia. But of course he hadn't.
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