Thursday, January 18, 2007

Presidential Absolutism: Bush Claims Unlimited Surveillance Powers

When Congress was out of town for the winter recess, President Bush asserted unilateral powers to open U.S. mail without a warrant. In yet another unfortunate "signing statement," Bush claims he can do searches without obtaining a warrant, as required by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and laws enacted by Congress. This comes on top of earlier claims that he can intercept phone calls and e-mails.

Congress passed a routine bill designed to improve the quality of postal service for Americans on Dec. 9 - the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Among other things, it restates U.S. law that domestic mail cannot be opened without a warrant, making an exception where there is a credible threat that the mail may contain an explosive device. When the executive branch believes it has a legitimate need to search targeted mail, existing laws allow the executive branch to get a warrant quickly from a criminal court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge.

Yet when Bush signed the postal bill, he added a statement reserving the right to ignore the law. Bush justifies his actions with radical claims about a "unitary executive branch" with exclusive powers and limitations on federal courts to interfere. So we have executive power unrestrained by law and unchecked by any other branch of government.

Original article HERE.


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