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Remember when Republicans were the party of a smaller, less-intrusive government?

Neither do they:

President Bush says he and other government officials have the power to snoop through your mail without a judge’s warrant.

Bush made the claim last month in a signing statement attached to a postal reform bill. Bush wrote that the bill “provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection.”

It’s only for emergencies. Of course, being at war and all, anything is an emergency.

I think I’m going to start mailing highlighted copies of the fourth amendment to addresses in Tehran.

Update: Les:

Bush doesn’t much like getting warrants, does he? If there’s enough intelligence to suggest the need for a search, there should be enough intelligence to get a warrant. That’s all the Constituion asks.

12 Responses to “Remember when Republicans were the party of a smaller, less-intrusive government?”

  1. Les Jones Says:

    “That’s all the Constituion asks.” I should probably proofread my posts so I can catch typos on my site instead of seeing them on someone else’s. D’oh! 🙂

  2. Xrlq Says:

    If there’s enough intelligence to suggest the need for a search, there should be enough intelligence to get a warrant. That’s all the Constituion asks.

    Baloney. The Fourth Amendment requires reasonableness for searches, and probable cause for warrants. They’re not the same thing. Personally, I think the feds should be able to look into any letter or package that has a 49% chance of causing death or serious injury, but that’s just me.

  3. Dave Says:

    “Exigent circumstances” = “Hey, John, I think that package is ticking. Yeah, the one that smells like fertilizer and has an oily stain on it.”

    Now, you think a warrant is required there?

  4. SayUncle Says:

    so, you think that’s all they’re opening, dave?

    In that case, it’s quite reasonable.

  5. markm Says:

    And do you think that’s all the next administration will do? That’s the big question. Once you’ve established a loophole for Bush’s men to violate someone’s privacy, in secret, with no review before or after by any outsider of what they did and why they did it, what would Hilary do with that power?

  6. beerslurpy Says:

    Once the need for a warrant goes away, they can open any or all packages at their discretion. It goes from a few abuses to a massive fishing expedition. They always test the waters with the reasonable case and the unsympathetic defendant. Remember how they started “prohibited person” in the 60s with the felon in possession laws? And then expanded it in the 90s to include people who all sorts of misdemeanor offenses?

  7. beerslurpy Says:

    Stupid typos…

    Once the need for a warrant goes away, they can open any or all packages at their discretion. It goes from a few abuses to a massive fishing expedition.

    They always test the waters with the reasonable case and the unsympathetic defendant. Remember how they started “prohibited person” in the 60s with the felon in possession laws? And then expanded it in the 90s to include people who had been convicted of misdemeanor offenses?

    This is how they chip away at the constitution. You take away a right from a disfavored few (terrorists here) and keep applying that new rule until people take it for granted. Then 20-30 years later you slowly start to expand it to the general population.

  8. Les Jones Says:

    If there’s a ticking timebomb I think we’ll find a way to deal with that. It’s all the sneaky looking at mail I’m worried about. You know, the cases that aren’t going to be announced on the evening news.

  9. Xrlq Says:

    BS: the Constituion requires all searches, including warrantless ones, to be reasonable. Thus, your conclusion that “once the need for a warrant goes away, they can open any or all packages at their discretion” is not true. The question is what they can do, if anything, where there is a reasonable suspicion that falls short of probable cause.

  10. #9 Says:

    GDI baby, GDI. I wish we had a political party.

  11. Dave Says:

    SayUncle: I have no idea whether that’s all they’re opening. However, that is pretty much the definition of “exigent circumstances” which is what Bush maintained a need for in his statement.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exigent_circumstance

    “It must be a situation where people are in imminent danger, evidence faces imminent destruction or a suspect will escape.”

    Given that a package is unlikely to escape, or to be destroyed at the post office, that leaves “imminent danger” as the main driver. And I have no issues with that.

    And of course, if the cops claim exigent circumstances and they AREN’T exigent, then they get slapped down in court (*knock on wood*). Same as any other warrantless search.

  12. markm Says:

    Dave, yep, that’s great. IF they actually catch someone in a crime and take it to court, they get slapped down. If they seal your mail back up and put it back into the system, their reasons for opening it never get reviewed. If they make too much of a mess of the envelope for their snooping to go undetected, there’s the incinerator, and we all know the PO loses mail now and then…

    I’m not against them opening packages in truly exigent circumstances – but I want them to be required to notify the people whose privacy they violated, and to face penalties in court if they abused the privilege.