Warrantless Wiretaps Redux

Lest we forget…

Warrantless “National Security” Searches
The Clinton administration claims that it can bypass the warrant clause for “national security” purposes. In July 1994 Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick told the House Select Committee on Intelligence that the president “has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” According to Gorelick, the president (or his attorney general) need only satisfy himself that an American is working in conjunction with a foreign power before a search can take place…

Attorney General Reno has already signed off on the warrantless search of an American home on the basis of the dubious “inherent authority” theory. The actual number of clandestine “national security” searches conducted since 1993 is known only to the White House and senior Justice Department officials.

Warrantless Wiretapping
President Clinton, however, has asked Congress to pass legislation that would give the Federal Bureau of Investigation the power to use “roving wiretaps” without a court order. The president also fought for sweeping legislation that is forcing the telephone industry to make its network more easily accessible to law enforcement wiretaps. Those initiatives have led ACLU officials to describe the Clinton White House as “the most wiretap-friendly administration in history.”

The King is dead. Long live the King.

[Source: Timothy Lynch, “Dereliction of Duty: The Constitutional Record of President Clinton.” Cato Policy Analysis No. 271. Internal cites omitted.]

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4 thoughts on “Warrantless Wiretaps Redux

  1. You know… maybe I’m a cynical SOB. But it actually doesn’t bother me that much to learn that a president (or anyone, really) claims power or authority they shouldn’t have. That seems sort of par for the course with ambitious personalities. Government, business, even religion. I’m sure you see similar crap in academia as well.

    What really bothers me is when the other branches let them get away with it, don’t pull them back, slap them down, and firmly say, “No!” That indicates a system failure, checks and balances that aren’t checking and balancing.

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  2. And yet despite all these claims of executive power, we have yet to live in a dystopian land where government silences all dissent.

    You know instead of:

    All of the evidence highlights the implicit bargain that is offered to citizens: pose no challenge and you have nothing to worry about. Mind your own business, and support or at least tolerate what we do, and you’ll be fine. Put differently, you must refrain from provoking the authority that wields surveillance powers if you wish to be deemed free of wrongdoing. This is a deal that invites passivity, obedience, and conformity. The safest course, the way to ensure being “left alone,” is to remain quiet, unthreatening, and compliant.

    I wonder who would write such a ridiculous thing….

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