Wednesday, January 25, 2006

here's how

A lot of blog argument the last few days has centered around the administration's claim that their warrantless wiretapping program is permitted by law, with opponents saying that this program is illegal and flies in the face of the 4th amendment. In particular, Bush lapdogs Alberto Gonzales and General Michael Hayden have said that this eavesdropping is in keeping with the "reasonable search" provision of the 4th amendment. I AM NOT A LAWYER, but I think I know what the chink in the amendment they think they have found is. After reading through the actual text of the 4th amendment, here's what I believe is the manner in which they are justifying their claims. This is the 4th amendment:


"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


Seems pretty clear to most of us that this means that a warrant is necessary to search and/or seize any citizen of the United States. However, if you are looking for a way to subvert the evident intention of the framers of the Constitution, it is easy to use the inherent imprecision of language to twist this seemingly simple sentence the way the government is at this time.

It strikes me that the perverse powers behind this administration are reading this sentence as discussing two separate issues.

They interpret it as containing two independent clauses, with the first portion meaning that the government has the right to effect what they claim as "reasonable" searches and seizures any time, and that only if they want to search a physical "place" or to take an individual into actual custody are they required to issue warrants.


I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

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