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Bush Claims Mail Can Be Opened Without Warrant

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the gentlemen-don't-do-that dept.

Privacy 714

don_combatant writes to note that President Bush claimed new powers to search US mail without a warrant. He made this claim in a "signing statement" at the time he signed a postal overhaul bill into law on December 20. The signing statement directly contradicts part of the bill he signed, which explicitly reinforces protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval. According to the article, "A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised a review of Bush's move."

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OH NOES!!! (3, Insightful)

fishybell (516991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459748)

Oh wait, good thing signing statements aren't generally regarded as law, but rather his view of the law.

Re:OH NOES!!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17459928)

exactly. and why is this on slashdot in the first place? this has nothing to do w/ technology or email at all. not saying i disagree that it's important but this site becomes more fox news in reverse each week. let's stick to news for nerds

Re:OH NOES!!! (2, Funny)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459946)

Breaking news at the White House

Tommorow, Bush will claim the sky is in fact - purple. Rumors also suggest he may claim 'nuclear' is correctly spelled as 'nucular.' Further reports as they are made available.

Ah... signing statements.

Re:OH NOES!!! (4, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459998)

In theory, you are quite right, since the president has not been in charge of interpreting the laws for a long time. In practice, however, very few acts of the "FedGov" are ever challenged in court – a large portion of your constitutional protections arise from what the government decides not to do, rather than from you retroactively getting a court order enforcing your rights. In particular, if the government decides to ignore a particular right, they can effectively nullify it.

Actually, to the extent that Mr. Bush is saying "if we believe there's a ticking bomb in a letter we will send the bomb squad in first and resolve the legal issues later", there is no controversey. Unfortunately, he also seems to be saying "if we believe the sender and reciever are contemplating un-american behaviour during a time of national emergency, we will read their mail first and put them on the no-fly list later".

Re:OH NOES!!! (5, Interesting)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460184)

Actually, he's saying "I want to be dictator of the USA"

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

George w Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

Re:OH NOES!!! (5, Informative)

spoonist (32012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460402)

Here [youtube.com] is the video of Shrub saying "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

Re:OH NOES!!! (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460414)

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

George w Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

Nice try - we all know that Bush is incapable of forming a coherent sentence like that.

Re:OH NOES!!! (5, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460120)

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Now that he is directly countermanding the bills he passes, can we not finally admit that Bush has broken his oath as President?

but rather his view of the law.

Or are you claiming is that despite "his view of the law" he's not going to order anyone to open mail?

Re:OH NOES!!! (-1, Troll)

agent_blue (413772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460236)

It's a good thing we don't set national policies based on the interperations of all the arm-chair supreme court justices on slashdot.

Re:OH NOES!!! (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460384)

Perhaps, but the GP post isn't an example of it. Bush's signing statements would carry the same legal weight if he wrote them on toilet paper before wiping his ass.

Gerald Ford condemned domestic surveillance. (4, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460464)

In 2004, Gerald Ford gave an interview to Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post". In the interview [freep.com] , "Ford questioned President George W. Bush's rationale for going to war in Iraq and said he never would have instituted the administration's domestic surveillance program."

Where is Gerald Ford when our nation needs him to rescue us from a cowboy?

Obligatory quote (5, Informative)

l2718 (514756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459768)

The right of the people to be secure in their ... papers ... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated ...

Re:Obligatory quote (0, Redundant)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459948)

Mod parent up.

What is it that we don't understand about the definition of "crimes against the Constitution"

Re:Obligatory quote (0)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459992)

The right of the people to be secure in their papers against ... unreasonable ... searches and seizures, shall not be violated ...

There, fixed that emphasis for you.

Re: "unreasonable" (2, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460104)

I alreayd wrote this in another post, but let me make the point again: to the extent Mr. Bush is saying "if we think we're looking at a letter bomb, we'll send the bomb squad first and worry about legal issues later", there's no controversy. However, considering past government behaviour under this president I would suspect that they would consider the current general "terrorism" paranoia to be sufficient to make the opening of any piece of mail they have a hunch about "reasonable".

Re:Obligatory quote (5, Informative)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460122)

...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...

There - fixed the emphasis for YOU.

Re:Obligatory quote (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460176)

The corpse of probable cause rotted away a long time ago.

Re:Obligatory quote (4, Funny)

wbren (682133) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460398)

...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...

There-fixed the emphasis for YOU.

Wait... oops

Re:Obligatory quote (4, Insightful)

pluther (647209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460472)

...no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause...

No problem then: Bush has no intention of having his people going through the hassle of getting a warrant before opening your mail...

Re:Obligatory quote (3, Informative)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460126)

Unreasonable like without a warrant or probable cause?

There, fixed your bullshit for you.

Re:Obligatory quote (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460172)

Please let me know when we have a reasonable president.

Re:Obligatory quote (3, Insightful)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460202)

Here, let me fix it for real:

13. The right of the people to be secure in their papers and possessions against searches and seizures shall not be violated except by the authority of a proper warrant, signed by a judge, after jury authorization.

No emphasis or "..." was needed. It's been fine for 2 centuries.

The important part the Mr. Bush is overlooking is "except by the authority of a proper warrant, signed by a judge, after jury authorization".

The current administration has removed or ignored almost every check and balance put in place by the founding fathers.

That's all fine and dandy, until the other team takes office and picks up where Bush and Co. left off.

The checks and balances are their for everyone's protection. Or at least they were.

Worst. President. Ever.

Re:Obligatory quote (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460232)

So, you wouldn't mind if I go through your mail? It's not unreasonable. I consider you a threat to society. You bold words that start with 'u'. Makes perfect sense to me.

Sure, call it a strawman if you want, but the fact is the whole warrant thing exists is meant to enforce the legitimacy of the legal system. A warrant means law enforcement has shown the judiciary there IS reason for a search, it has been well defined and is documented.

Unless reason has been shown, any search is unreasonable.

Re:Obligatory quote (1)

smithbp (1002301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460466)

Unreasonable, to me anyway, would include signing a statement that makes it ok to first open someone's mail on a suspicion or whim and then get a warrant. This is akin to punching someone in the face because you think they're someone you don't like and then asking if they are in fact that person afterwards, because you weren't really sure in the first place. I support the US and it's enforcement of certain laws, etc, but ol' G.W. may just be losing his mind. He used his signing statement to contradict what actual document he was signing said. Makes you wonder how much of the stuff he signs is actually being read by him.

Hmmm (1)

SightlessMind (806966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459774)

Perhaps he should have RTFB?

Re:Hmmm (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460088)

Perhaps he should have RTFB?


Hey, Taco, are you sure that W doesn't have a Slashdot account?

Re:Hmmm (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460230)

I think you mean "RTFC".

New Congress (0, Troll)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459782)

So, wasn't the new congress going to start trying to do something about these signing statements? Yay for a horrible abuse of the checks and balances that are supposed to be in our system.

Re:New Congress (3, Funny)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459890)

Yes, but they have only been in power... today. Can we give them 24 hours or so?

Re:New Congress (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460010)

NO!

This is America we Demand instant gratification!

I want my BigMac Meal, Fiberoptic TV/Net/Phone, a new car, laws protecting net nutrality, and the impeachment of bush as of yesterday!

they had better get on the ball!
[/silly]

Honestly I just hope they take the ball and run with it, prefferably starting with this signing statement, as it is a rather horrible one.

Re:New Congress (1)

notmyeye (877399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459944)

The new congress is just now taking office, so it's not like this is their fault.

I would think this is more of a judicial aspect now though. Until someone sues because the government has read their mail, no one can stop Bush from making these statements. Once challenged, this signing statement (or perhaps all signing statements) could be found unconstitutional.

Re:New Congress (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460004)

Yes, the new Congress will immediately pass a bill making signing statements illegal. Unfortunately, President Bush will attach a signing statement to that law invalidating it.

Re:New Congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460054)

Um... The signing statement occured on December 20. The new congress does not get sworn in until January. The new congress can't actually do anything until then. You did actually read the article didn't you?

Re:New Congress (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460056)

I can't imagine what they'd do about it. They can complain, but the separation of powers means that the executive branch has essentially infinite power to execute the laws according to its own interpretation. Ultimately, the Supreme Court itself can issue its rulings but depends on the good will of the executive branch to actually do it.

Congress' main check on that power is the ability to impeach. If the President violates the laws or court decisions, then it's a "high crime and misdemeanor", and they can remove him. That's the nuclear option, but the Constitution forbids any other control. It's a kind of Mutually Assured Destruction.

In practice the President has always had to execute the laws more or less in line with what Congress said when they passed them, precisely because the nuclear option is sitting there. But Bush is discovering that really he can do whatever he wants, no matter what the law actually says. He likes to think he's doing it to preserve the security of the country, but I've got a terrible feeling he's destroying that village in order to save it.

Re:New Congress (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460448)

Congress' main check on that power is the ability to impeach. If the President violates the laws or court decisions, then it's a "high crime and misdemeanor", and they can remove him. That's the nuclear option, but the Constitution forbids any other control. It's a kind of Mutually Assured Destruction.

No, the Constitution provides one other control: Congress controls the money. If Congress decides to de-fund half the executive branch, then half the executive branch is fired.

The only executive branch offices mandated by the Constitution are that of President and Vice-President. Congress can do away with any other office, position, or agency any time they see fit. (except there's a general requirement to have a Navy, IIRC) Call it the "slash and burn" option.

Unfortunately, Congress would have to have a backbone to use that power. They don't, so they won't.

Re:New Congress (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460220)

So, wasn't the new congress going to start trying to do something about these signing statements?

Soon. The new Democratic majority in Congress is being sworn in right now, today, this hour.

Re:New Congress (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460298)

"So, wasn't the new congress going to start trying to do something about these signing statements?"

Primarily because the new Congress just got started, well, this morning (or was that yesterday? I get so confused these days...). The Dems also will not/do not have a concrete overriding 2/3rds majority, so they won't be effective (because Bush will exercise veto power whenever he damn well pleases).

Because Congress has no incentive to. Most people like to believe other people are bad (cynical view a la misery loves company) or likes to think that way to make themselves feel superior. They believe these protections do not apply to them. Or have a cause they believe in that is served however slightly by such actions (victim's rights and the like).

It seems many folks believe in causes, not principles, and it's been going on for some time (not a recent generation thing; the slip has been going on for awhile). The present line of thinking is get the bad guy at any cost, forgetting that those hunting often end up being the bad guys in the end.

If something favors them, people like it these days, even if it is blatently unfair (many examples, my present favorite one is senior citizens and property taxes in certain states). To that end, they vote for whoever kisses their ass and will help them econmically, and politicians know it and cater to those groups, thus majority only decisions are made even if it is detrimental to the whole.

Most people that have problems with the government are or have been jailed. Many do not have the right to vote.

We have a two-party system. See game theory (i.e. potentially why McCain lost in 2000 (or rather, never made it to the final two), see Lieberman in the most recent race).

Many people like membership. They like to call themselves Democrat, Liberal, Progressive, Conservative, Republican, and all that. This ends up being a "my frat/sorority is better than your frat/sorority" crapfest, where if your party wins, it's a win, instead of the principles you back.

I hate Dean. I hate war. But the war in Iraq? Good start, bad mismanagement, it's a shithole, get out. For the amount of money we expended, we could have had health insurance for everyone in the US or solved our energy issues. Such examples are not exclusive to the federal level; in PA, something like $400 million is going to the "police" instead of economic revitalization--even though the latter reduces crime far more effectively, people still believe the reduction in violent crime occurs primarily due to a police force instead of people having better opportunities to live their lives.

etc. etc.

btw, I'm a Democrat, Republican, moderate Republican, conservative Republican, to 'hell with it you guys are all @#!% nuts leave me the hell alone' who has turned into a massive cynic, watching "authority" figures abuse the simplest things (like traffic and speeding violations, lying in court, no record magisterial systems, to DAs who should be up for ethics violations to doctors who shouldn't be doctors because they'd rather be paid then help more people) to major things (see somewhat recent Slate article on the 10 stupid ass things going on, cops shooting people in the back, not talking down hostage takers and blowing in doors to backing their frat I mean fellow officers, to corrupt pharmaceutical companies making billions while passive genocide occurs (HIV in Africa)) so to heck with it I ain't surprised everyone else higher up has turned into a "victim," to the point that people who really might need help are outshouted by those simply clamoring for more.

And yeah, I'm thinking about starting a bitchy website about all of this. As if that'll help.

Do YOU get it yet?

Separation of powers (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459784)

Bush keeps saying he wants everyone to work in a bipartisan fashion, but I don't think "bipartisan" means what he thinks it does. Rather bipartisan appears to mean to him "do it my way" or "because I say so" and "I'm the decider".

Seriously though, and back on topic: Even the American Bar Association has described the use of signing statements to modify the meaning of duly enacted laws as "contrary to the rule of law and our Constitutional system of separation of powers". When is the American public going to wake up on both sides of the isle here? From a Republican standpoint, this administration has gone so far off from Republican ideals, that it is not even funny. Republicans used to be the ones who were for a strong military, smaller government, less government intrusion into our lives and lower taxes and what we have is a military that is weaker and smaller now than it has been in decades, we have the largest federal bureaucracy in the history of the world, fewer Constitutional rights and lower taxes are only for large corporations. From the Democratic side, well..... those guys just got hosed for the last few years and they do not appear smart enough to position anyone capable enough to compete with someone even as unappealing and dangerous to our lives as Bush and Co.

I worry for our future as we have signed away many of our Constitutional rights and protections, we have alienated many foreign countries and allies after squandering perhaps the most support we've ever had in history after 9/11, we are entrenched in a combat zone that has very little positive outcome potential, we are signing away our financial future through one of the largest deficits in history and Cheney is on record as saying deficit spending does not matter.

Re:Separation of powers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17459950)

Bush: This country needs bipartisanship!

Inigo Montoya: I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Re:Separation of powers (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459974)

"contrary to the rule of law and our Constitutional system of separation of powers" New here?

Re:Separation of powers (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460468)

Deficit spending isn't as obviously evil as you might think. As long as you're borrowing money cheaply and putting it into something that appreciates more quickly, it's actually in your interest to borrow as much money as possible.

A mortgage is considered an excellent investment, and it's deficit spending. In fact, many financial advisors will tell you to buy the biggest house you can afford, and pay it off slowly. That's because real estate is a good investment in general, what with the population continually rising. (Confusing matters a bit is that the tax breaks on mortgage interest make it an even better deal, though that's artificial.)

Similarly, a wise company will always have a debt: it borrows money to invest in itself and make new stuff to be even more profitable.

Mind you, all of this assumes you're investing in something valuable. Money borrowed and then wasted is the real evil. Blame the waste, not the borrowing. Cutting the borrowing is one way to limit waste, but Congress is particularly adept at finding ways to waste money. A favorite is to put the pork on the budget, deliberately under-funding something critical. Then when that runs out of money, they pass an "emergency appropriation", which doesn't count on the budget. (It shows up in the debt, though.)

Eliminating earmarks will help, but at $24 billion they're a drop in the bucket of a multi-trillion dollar budget. The real waste is in things like farm subsidies to agribusinesses and weapons programs the Pentagon doesn't want. Try cutting those, though, and watch people scream. Everybody wants the budget cut, except for the bits that come in to their state. Those are necessary.

Just wondering ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17459794)

I wonder how many people would open a piece of crap wrapped and mailed to the President titled "Just returning what you have given us Americans", my guess it would never reach his desk.

So? (5, Interesting)

duerra (684053) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459796)

AFAIK, the last I checked the legality or effectiveness of signing statements (of which Bush has made hundreds of by now, pretty much attaching one to nearly every bill he has signed since he has been in office) was extremely dubious at best. The second something that tries to play off one of these signing statements goes to court, does anybody really, honestly believe that they would hold any legal water? The bill is the bill, and regardless of what little post-it note that the president attaches to it when he signs it doesn't change that fact.

Honestly, I'm not too worried about it at this point, but I'm sure others will follow up if I am completely off base, as IANAL.

Re:So? (4, Informative)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460062)

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced the Presidential Signing Statements Act of 2006 on July 26, 2006. [2]The bill would:

      1. Instruct all state and federal courts to ignore presidential signing statements. ("No State or Federal court shall rely on or defer to a presidential signing statement as a source of authority.")
      2. Instruct the Supreme Court to allow the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives to file suit in order to determine the constitutionality of signing statements. [3]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signing_statement#Con troversy_over_George_W._Bush.27s_use_of_signing_st atements [wikipedia.org]

And when W signs that bill (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460146)

I predict he attach a signing statement to the effect that

"The Executive Branch shall construe this bill in a manner consistent with the requirements that state and federal courts rely on and defer to presidential signing statements as a source of authority."

Re:And when W signs that bill (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460292)

He'd probably just veto the bill, and I wouldn't be surprised if Congress overrode the veto. Balance of power often trumps political affiliation, which is part of why Specter, a moderate Republican, had introduced this bill.

Even if he did sign it with a signing statement, how would that make a difference? What would the executive branch do, not bother showing up to court for the lawsuit?

Re:So? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460234)

They're ability to hold legal water only matters if 1) someone sues the government over abuses that they have no way of knowing have accured, or 2) if the speaker of the house changes her mind and moves forward with the impeachment process.

The bitch with #1 is that you need to be the subject of the abuse in order to be able to sue for it. But since the nature of the abuse is by design transparent, you pretty much have to have and insider leak the information to the victim. Until that happens, they are free to abuse these statements however they like.

-Rick

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460390)

The problem is that long before any court sets things straight all of the people who are harmed by actions taken based on a signing statement will have had their lives more or less destroyed. Read My Country Against Me, which is Wen Ho Lee's recounting of all of the nefarious carryings on surrounding his trial for being a spy for China. The guy was ruined, and when a court finally got around to apologizing the world had moved on, that part of the story didn't get the same front page coverage as his arrest.


On the other hand one might just shrug and say that governments don't need signing statements to be evil, so why does it matter.

If you haven't noticed (2, Interesting)

admiralh (21771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460452)

The right has been stacking the courts for the last 26 years (excluding a brief respite during the Clinton admin, but in that case, they simply refused to act on over 60 of Clinton's nominations).

Remember the "Unitary Executive" fights during the Roberts and Alito nomination hearings? Bush is saying with these signing statements that he is only subject to the laws he wants to be, and can run the country how he sees fit (the MBA at work here). This is the "Unitary Executive". I believe that Alito, Scalia, and Thomas would support the legality of these signing statements. Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer would not. Kennedy and Roberts? Don't know.

In short: at the present, most legal scholars believe the signing statements are not legally binding. But the right is working very hard to ensure that they will be.

"Signing Statement"? (1)

Concern (819622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459808)

Why, exactly, are we giving any credibility to these totally irrelevant written comments by the President?

Is there any respect (or even understanding) of the process of law in this country anymore?

What's next? If Bush says something three times and crosses his fingers, can he override the Supreme Court?

Re:Yes Virgina, Signing Statements (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460222)

The exact reason we are giving credibility to them is because they are credible and directly result in agency policies and procedures. In this case some spooky organization can open your mail and the president will go to court to preserve their ability to do so and that takes time. Lots of it.

http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/signing.htm [usdoj.gov] where you will find, "We believe that such statements may on appropriate occasions perform useful and legally significant functions.... directing subordinate officers within the Executive Branch how to interpret or administer the enactment...."

Is there any respect (or even understanding) of the process of law in this country anymore?
Maybe, but the wheels of justice move so slowly that the Executive office can do as they please for quite a while. Along with the last decade or so of vast expansion of Executive power it makes it all the more relevant. Historically speaking, you will note the current supreme court calendar is relatively empty as well.

Here's another one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signing_statement [wikipedia.org]

Signing statements are so meaningless (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459810)

I hope he opens up some first class mail soon, so we can finally get this "signing statement" crap in front of the supreme court.

Re:Signing statements are so meaningless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17459964)

Yeah, thats right up there with "someone give Bush a blowjob, so that we can impeach him". :-)

Re:Signing statements are so meaningless (3, Informative)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460034)

Have you seen the Supreme Court lately? At least 4 of them would be happy to let Bush cross out the entire 4th Amendment from the original copy of the Constititution in the National Archives with a magic marker, and he could probably get a 5th to go along with him if he claims that he really needed to read everyone's first class mail to keep the Terrorists from killing us all.

Happens all the time (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459812)

The government opens mail all the time looking for drugs. This is not new.

I believe (2, Interesting)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459908)

I believe they currently need a warrant. They have dogs sniff, the dogs go berserk, they have probable cause, and they get a warrant.

I believe that's how it's currently done. I may be wrong.

Bush is saying they don't need probably cause-- they can just open it.

Re:I believe (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460340)

Warrant isn't required to open mail. See my post further along for details.

Re:Happens all the time (2)

Needanewnick (672293) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459970)

The government opens mail all the time looking for drugs. This is not new.
Those bastards can get their own drugs!

These are mine.

Re:Happens all the time (1)

Hrothgar The Great (36761) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460282)

It IS new because, hypothetically, this process would not involve the court system. You should try thinking critically and reading articles before opening your big stupid mouth. You might even come up with an original statement that way, rather than the "DURRR! NOT NOOS!" that gets posted here about 500 times a day.

Wait, Bush can read? (5, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459814)

I'm not so surprised that Bush is claiming he can read mail without a warrant as I am that he can read at all.

Re:Wait, Bush can read? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460240)

The worst mistake you can make is to underestimate your opponent.

Keep laughing, yeah, he's an uneducated hick.

While you laugh he's getting away with it anyway.

Good job, asshat.

Old joke (1)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460302)

The president's personal library burned down last night. Both books were destroyed. The president was upset because he was almost done colouring in one of them.

in all seriousness, I don't think the president is a stupid as he claims he is. I think it's just a way for him to get support from his....unsophisticated base of good-old-boys that are glad that the "Yale ivory tower elites" aren't running things anymore.

Re:Old joke (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460362)

It isn't stupidity as much as it is an incurious nature and laziness. He would much rather let some eggheads do the heavy lifting while he goes for a bike ride.

um (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459834)

I thought they did this already anyway? i wonder what they would do if i sent all my letters PGP'd :)

i h8 bush (0, Troll)

gustolove (1029402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459856)

i like trees better

Ugh. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17459872)

Yet another non-tech article from kdawson. Piffle.

Turns out (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459902)

Bush just wants to maximize his chances of winning Ed McMahon's $10 million.

He's like Superman! (5, Funny)

Malakusen (961638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459918)

Bush keeps pulling BS powers out of his ass based solely on letting him do whatever he wants to do at any given time.

"Hmm... I want to eavesdrop on phone calls, but as the law is written now, I can't. Fortunately, I can use my Presidential Wiretapping Power to authorize warrantless wiretapping!"
"Hmm... I want to torture prisoners to get information that, while not accurate, will support my foreign policy goals. But it's against US and international law. Aha! Super Secret Presidential Rendition Powers!"

And so on. Somebody really needs to tell Bush he can't go to Superdickery.com anymore.

I LOVE this quote (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459940)

Directly From the article:
================
A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised a review of Bush's move.

"It's something we're going to look into," the aide said
================
Nothing like the media anonymizing you, twisting your words around, and then putting your exact words right afterwards thinking nobody will notice.

IMPEACH - the only tag needed. (4, Insightful)

HiredMan (5546) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459956)


Seriously, who can argue that as the person in charge of enforcing the rule of law and "protecting the constitution" that George W. Bush is doing the exact opposite. He's not just not doing it he's actively working to undermine the entire idea of separation of powers and role of the executive branch.

Impeach.

Now.

=tkk

PS See you at GITMO!

Re:IMPEACH - the only tag needed. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460154)

an impeachment is only a statement of charges, does nothing more. The spineless cowards in congress would be the ones to do that, except they won't. They would lose their treasured power and prestige in Washington were they to do that.

Re:IMPEACH - the only tag needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460204)

More than half of the congress absolutely despises George Bush-- if he had actually done something illegal, they wouldn't be keeping their mouths shut, would they?

Re:IMPEACH - the only tag needed. (1)

cperciva (102828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460216)

Impeachment isn't good enough. If Bush gets impeached, Cheney will become president and pardon Bush.

I want Bush to go on trial and be sent to jail for his crimes.

Seriously (1)

Jeremiah Stoddard (876771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459972)

Not that I approve of the idea (I don't -- I don't think it's in the spirit of the search and seizure amendment), but really people! If you don't want the government's prying eye's on your correspondence, why are you having the government deliver it for you anyway? There are other methods of delivering a message for those who seriously need the privacy...

Re:Seriously (1)

Mabonus (185893) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460342)

I'm glad to see that you disapprove of the idea, but your 'for really people' argument seems a bit off. I mean, if I seriously need privacy then yes I will use alternate methods to communicate, but I also have a fundamental right to privacy. There are situations where that can be stripped but those situations require the approval of a judge, notification, transparency and oversight. I should not have to protect myself from my government.

Canada looks better and better (0)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459994)

Canada is looking better and better all the time. The US clearly is not the freest nation. I believe Thomas Jefferson is tossing in his grave. His expression, "Those that would give up liberty for security get none and deserve neither," says it all. Bush just wants to be an autocrat. Hopefully, the democrats will put the kibosh on this one.

Re:Canada looks better and better (4, Funny)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460196)

Thomas Jefferson badly paraphrased Ben Franklin just like everyone on Slashdot does? Neat. But I bet Alexander Hamilton modded him -1 Redundant, the bastard.

Re:Canada looks better and better (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460322)

Canada is looking better and better all the time. The US clearly is not the freest nation. I believe Thomas Jefferson is tossing in his grave. His expression, "Those that would give up liberty for security get none and deserve neither," says it all. Bush just wants to be an autocrat. Hopefully, the democrats will put the kibosh on this one.

Honestly, don't come to Canada if you believe that it is a more democratic or free country than the US ...

  • The Prime Minister Appoints all Senators for life, the senators are supposed to be regionally representative but their distribution is completely unequal.
  • Judges are appointed by the prime minister
  • The heads of all crown coporations and departments of the government are appointed by the PMO
  • The Federal goverment has moved into Provincial Jurisdiction and forces their will on the provinces by controlling taxation
  • MPs are supposed to be representative of population, but currently a vote from someone in eastern provinces is the equilivant of 1.5 fotes in western provinces


Essentially, whenever Canada has a majority (which is impossible without strong support from the eastern provinces) it is a benign dictatorship; being that everyone in the West doesn't count (lower representation in the Senate, Lower representation in the House of Commons) we are constantly abused in favour of eastern interests.

slippery slope much? (1)

davek (18465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460008)

From The Article:

Martin said Bush is "using the same legal reasoning" as he did with warrantless eavesdropping.
Can anyone say slippery slope? Two blatant, obvious power grabs in just a few years and why? Because he's already set legal precedent, that's why.

Gotta admit it, the guy knows how to play the chess game of politics.

-dave

Hey George... (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460024)

Your mouth is talking. You might want to see to that.

The president has a way of flapping his gums and then letting his aids sort out the facts later. It's kind of like having a CEO running the country.

Reading this makes me think of this quote.... (3, Informative)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460036)

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

From - An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania
Benjamin Franklin

The Character of State (3, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460064)

The State is increasing its powers to monitor citizens - both where they are, and the conversations they have.

This is also the State which is increasingly introducing extra-judicial handling of terrorists - holding them indefinitely without trial, interrogation methods which are tantamount to torture, no access to lawyers, no publication of their status.

This is also the State which has been gradually extending extra-judicial methods (warrantless monitoring, for example) to citizens.

It is my view a State which fails to understand the importance of civil and human rights, for example in this case in its increasing intrusion in private lives, will, *as you would expect*, fail to apply those rights in other areas - in this case, justice for those accused of crimes and they way they are treated.

This bullshit has gone on much too long... (5, Informative)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460066)

I encourage everyone, no matter what your political leanings are, that is sick and tired of this president's blatant misuse of executive power, to consider sending a "Memorial of Impeachment" to incoming Speaker Pelosi on January the 15th of this year. You can read more about this, and print out the Memorial (pdf file) at ImpeachForPeace.org [impeachforpeace.org] . I've already printed mine out, signed it, and got it notarized. It's sitting on my computer desk, waiting for the 15th. I urge everyone to do the same. It may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back, and we may be the ones that are able to initiate the impeachment procedure.

Re:This bullshit has gone on much too long... (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460400)

Or, you know, not. If the Democrats in Congress wanted to impeach Bush, they'd do it. "Forcing" them to refer a bill to a committee where it will never been seen again is really just wasting your time.

I'm torn (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460078)

While mail should not be able to be searched just because somebody is under investigation or on a hunch without a court order; mail should be able to be searched with just cause.

Point and case: Some dumbass who was in Basic Combat Training with me in the Army mailed a live round in a paper envelope back to his home. When the post office saw the outline of this live round they opened the envelope, secured the round and arrested the dumbass. Searches like this should be able to happen for safety's sake.

Mail has always been openable w/o warrant (0, Troll)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460098)

In 1980 I had an incident where a letter that I sent was opened by postal inspectors.

The letter was a joke and had something written on it that was pro-nuclear proliferation. On the outside of the envelope. This was enough excuse for the letter opener to come out and to require the recipient to show up at the Post Office and pick up the letter directly.

If you drop something in the mail, you are exposing the item to being searched and viewed based upon arbitrary criteria. Make no mistake about it.

Mind you, that was during the Carter administration, for any of you partisan boobs out there.

Whats the trouble here? (1)

wmarcy (716319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460142)

All administrations have been doing this, legally since 1914, but hey, lets bash bush over it anyway. Sheesh.

Oopsies (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460186)

Doesn't this simply mean that Bush didn't understand what he signed, and mis-summarized the bill?

Don't attribute to malice, yada, yada...

Benjamin Franklin (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460192)

So did Benjamin Franklin.

(IIRC -- was the mail of a British colonial governor -- web searches haven't helped my memory so I'm going to do something else now and let others do the research)

Honestly... (1, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460212)

If it were any other president, I would give him the benefit of the doubt.

But this is a president who was either lying or willfully ignorant to get us to wage a war in which the American people lost a lot of money and a lot of lives (and many times more Iraqi civilians) with no clear benefit to our country. And one consequence of this war was that some very good friends of people in his administration made a LOT of money.

So there is no benefit of the doubt any more for this President. Let's just hope that he and his friends will be satisfied with the thievery they have already accomplished and not attempt to take even more from us.

State of emergency (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460278)

A "state of" emergency has ever been the excuse for taking away people's liberties. GWB thinks 9/11 gives him the right to do whatever he pleases, constitution be damned.

Re:State of emergency (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460408)

A "state of" emergency has ever been the excuse for taking away people's liberties. GWB thinks 9/11 gives him the right to do whatever he pleases, constitution be damned.

I think you meant never and I also think you are forgetting the Japanese internment camps we had during World War II. Just because our country doesn't do it often, doesn't mean it can't be done.

Finally, if you are a law abiding American citzen or law abiding resident then you should have nothing to worry about. However if you skirt the law, are a criminal, and in this country illegally then I say tough shit to you. The constitution is for protecting the citizens, not every joe blow who crosses the border.

I'll take Impeachment for $200, Alex (0, Flamebait)

scotch (102596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460326)

Can't we impeach the bastard yet? All nixon did was spy on his political opponents. All Clinton did was lie about sex. This signing statement bullshit is the one of the biggest threats to the American people of the last 300 years. He's ignoring the constitution, overpowering the congress, and extending government power at the expense of civil liberties all with one giant, misguided stone.

ma8e (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460364)

minu7es. IF that.

Back to wax seals? (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460376)

Or will they be blatant about these searches and leave friendly notes, as they are when TSA plunders your luggage at the airport?

Someone should send a letter to Osama bin Laden with a couple of bucks in it and a PGP-encrypted message. That'll freak out the feds. :)

New Drinking Game (1)

TommyMc (949670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460388)

Every time '1984' gets mentioned - 1 shot. THAT Ben Franklin quote - 1 shot. Feel free to add your own, meme's don't count.

Tyranny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460404)

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny" -- Thomas Jefferson

You're all a bunch of God damn idiots (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460406)

And you will get exactly what you deserve. I'm leaving the country and heading for Switzerland. Sheep.

And you think the democrats will save you. The only thing that will save you is pulling your head out of your ass and taking responsibility for yourselves.

You stupid fucking animals.

Misplaced priorities? (0)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460460)

This is yet another example of my president's misplaced priorities. Why won't he focus on issues that matter to the middle class folks of USA? Issues like: -
  1. The crumbling education system
  2. The mortgaging of our livelihood to countries like China, Japan and Russia
  3. The massive budget deficit we now face, it's said that very soon, our country will be broke!
  4. The un-functional foreign policy!
  5. The unemployment situation that squeezes the middle class
  6. Trade pacts or deals that solely benefit "big business"
  7. Massive corruption. Even congressmen convicted of corrupt tendencies are still getting their pensions on our tab! Remember Haliburton?
  8. IRAQ! Need I say more, on December 31st 2006, we lost our 3,000th marine
  9. Cutting down on the rhetoric. It's good we now hear nothing of the "...Stay The Course..." category
  10. Addressing the "lies" we've been fed on since he came into office. Restore dignity
There is more but I need to go.

Stinkin' Warrants (1)

Herr Ziffer (1042828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460470)

You don't need a fancy warrant to open mail when a simple letter-opener will do.
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