The Letter of the Law
By Chitra Ragavan Sat Mar 18, 6:50 PM ET
In the dark days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a small group of lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department began meeting to debate a number of novel legal strategies to help prevent another attack. Soon after, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to begin conducting electronic eavesdropping on terrorism suspects in the United States, including American citizens, without court approval. Meeting in the FBI's state-of-the-art command center in the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the lawyers talked with senior FBI officials about using the same legal authority to conduct physical searches of homes and businesses of terrorism suspects--also without court approval, one current and one former government official tell U.S. News. 'There was a fair amount of discussion at Justice on the warrantless physical search issue,' says a former senior FBI official. 'Discussions about--if [the searches] happened--where would the information go, and would it taint cases.'
FBI Director Robert Mueller was alarmed by the proposal, the two officials said, and pushed back hard against it. 'Mueller was personally very concerned,' one official says, 'not only because of the blowback issue but also because of the legal and constitutional questions raised by warrantless physical searches.' FBI spokesman John Miller said none of the FBI's senior staff are aware of any such discussions and added that the bureau has not conducted 'physical searches of any location without consent or a judicial order.'
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Well, it can't taint the case if no one knows you have it. And if no one knows you have it, why then, do you really have it?
But hey, as long as they're only ignoring our rights in order "to protect our rights" then, by all means, go ahead and stomp all over them!
I feel safer now...
Hat tip to Michael Reynolds of the Mighty Middle. His piece, American Fascist, reminded me that I have a US News and World Report brief on my MyYahoo page. It used to be my home page, but I've switched that and don't check it as frequently as I used to do.