Saturday, January 06, 2007

Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night---Just Bush

It's almost become boring now, this never-ending assault on our civil liberties and constitutional rights by Bush and his hired guns. How else explain the media's lack of attention or comment after Bush shoehorned another signing statement onto the back of an otherwise mundane postal office bill in December, in which he arrogates the right to open Americans' mail without a warrant based only on his own questionable discretion? Here it is in all its glory:
The executive branch shall construe subsection 404(c) of title 39, as enacted by subsection 1010(e) of the Act, which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection, in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances, such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials, and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.
Here's what the ACLU had to say:
In 1996, the postal regulations were altered to permit the opening of First Class Mail without a warrant in cases where the Postal Inspector believes there is a credible threat that the package contains dangerous material like bombs. In passing the new statute, Congress reiterated the express prohibition in existing law against opening First Class Mail without a warrant. The regulation authorizing an exception where there is a credible threat that a package may contain a bomb still exists, but is quite narrow.

(ACLU Executive Director Anthony D.) Romero said the Bush signing statement does not specify whether there are special circumstances beyond those already established in the law that would allow him to open mail without a warrant and if so, what they may be. For example, the ACLU questioned whether the “exigent circumstances” would include the singling out of mail addressed to or from people on government watch lists, which are notoriously flawed. Such deliberate ambiguity, Romero said, “raises a red flag because of President Bush’s history of asserting broad powers to spy on Americans.”

Romero also noted that the signing statement was issued by President Bush during the Congressional recess and a year after revelations that his administration was claiming authority to secretly wiretap Americans without a warrant.
Time enough for the old American amnesia to take effect.

You can contact your representatives and let them know this is unacceptable, either by picking up the phone, or going here. Don't assume that the changeover effected by the last election will save you. With people like Nancy ("He is the commander in chief, Charlie. We don't get that choice") Boyda on your side, you can be pretty sure nothing has changed.

No comments: