Friday, January 5, 2007

Watch Your Mail

The President can open your mail without a warrant, or so says a Presidential signing statement that explicitly contravenes what the legislation says.

Thank you, Congressman Waxman, for not putting up with this crap. Just how much power does this President think the Constitution grants him? Nixon's imperial presidency has nothing on this man.

1 comment:

Chengora said...

You know, conservative blogs are up in arms about the Democratic refusal to accept this signing statement.

Whenever I've had to "discuss" this issue with a conservative - the use of emergency powers by the executive - it always breaks down into a refusal to recognize that even in emergencies, you still need warrants. Sure, they can be after the fact, but the oversight still needs to exist. You can't create legal measures that are accountable only to the executive, although I've certainly seen some interesting (and clearly wrong) interpretations of the Constitution or FISA.

This postal thing is egregiously bad though. First, anyone sending codes and messages (for a terrorist attack for example) through the postal system is clearly not worried about how long it takes to get to the recipient.

Second, the post office can actually stop a piece of mail, hold onto it, and save it for police or other authorities while the latter obtains a warrant. Remember the whole anthrax scare? Taken care of pretty well by the measures that the post office had in place, once the problem was identified. In that kind of system, there is virtually no need to call upon emergency powers.

Finally, again, the President or the Executive Branch still has to get a warrant, even after the fact, both as a critical step of procedure and to provide a basis for challenge. For whatever reason, lots of conservatives are forgetting that emergency powers don't mean that procedures don't have to be followed. Just that they can be followed a little later. Bush's signing statement doesn't say anything like this, except to reiterate the President's prerogative to seize mail without a warrant in an emergency situation. And if we're talking about the mail, really, you've got at least 3-5 business days to react for first class, 2 if you've got priority service.