[NetBehaviour] Bush says feds can open mail without warrant.

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Fri Jan 5 12:01:37 CET 2007


Bush says feds can open mail without warrant.

By James Gordon Meek

New York Daily News
WASHINGTON — President Bush quietly has claimed sweeping new powers to 
open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant.

Bush asserted the new authority Dec. 20 after signing legislation that 
overhauls some postal regulations. He then issued a "signing statement" 
that declared his right to open mail under emergency conditions, 
contrary to existing law and contradicting the bill he had just signed, 
according to experts who have reviewed it.

A White House spokeswoman disputed claims that the move gives Bush any 
new powers, saying the Constitution allows such searches.

Still, the move, one year after The New York Times' disclosure of a 
secret program that allowed warrantless monitoring of Americans' phone 
calls and e-mail, caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

"Despite the president's statement that he may be able to circumvent a 
basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the 
government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant," said 
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the incoming House Government Reform 
Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up 
large amounts of mail.

"The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail 
without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming," said Kate 
Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

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