Thursday, December 22, 2005

History Did Not Begin in 2001

Now that the initial hysteria has abated, in spite of MSM efforts to fan the flames, it seems that George W. Bush did not establish any new precedents in its wiretapping. In fact, previous presidents have done similar things without invoking the New York Times ire, including the greatest president of all time, Bill Clinton and the sainted Jimmy Carter.

Previous administrations, as well as the court that oversees national security cases, agreed with President Bush's position that a president legally may authorize searches without warrants in pursuit of foreign intelligence.
"The Department of Justice believes -- and the case law supports -- that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the president may, as he has done, delegate this authority to the attorney general," Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick said in 1994 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
That same authority, she added, pertains to electronic surveillance such as wiretaps.
More recently, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- the secretive judicial system that handles classified intelligence cases -- wrote in a declassified opinion that the court has long held "that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information."
Such warrantless searches have been at the center of a political fight in Washington after the New York Times reported Friday that the Bush administration had a program to intercept communications between al Qaeda suspects and persons in this country, a story whose publication coincided with the congressional debate over reauthorizing the USA Patriot Act.


Is anybody else struck by the irony of all this? Here we have the New York Times claiming to be the champion of privacy rights, and it was this same newspaper that tried to gain access to the private and sealed adoption records of Chief Justice John Roberts' children so that they could use them as a weapon against his nomination.

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