Thursday, January 04, 2007

“The Check is in the Mail” (the president knows you’re lying)

My friend Alex over at Inactivist has said that (I’m paraphrasing here) the worst thing about the Clinton impeachment is how it took one of the most serious penalties the Constitution has to offer and reduced it to just another partisan political ploy. Thus, no matter how bad this administration gets, anyone who suggests impeachment for Bush first has to discuss where they stood on the Clinton impeachment, and explain why this time it’s different, and say this has to do with concern for America rather than a partisan desire to discredit the Republican Party and . . . uh, what were we talking about, again?

So here’s another presidential misdeed that would have been worthy of impeachment back when impeachment was something more than a partisan smackdown: Bush has reserved for himself the right to open and read Americans’ mail without a warrant.

WASHINGTON - President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it. . . . 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. “The danger is they're reading Americans' mail," she said.

"You have to be concerned," agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush's claim. "It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we've ever known."

So can I say that I think Bush should be impeached without being accused of shilling for the Democratic Party? Probably not. After all, I’m on record as saying I opposed the Clinton impeachment, too.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Alex said...

Neither rain, nor snow, nor Bill of Rights shall stop Bush from reading your mail.

8:33 PM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

The opened mail in WWII.

There's even jokes about it.

A letter from Germany contains the phrase ``Father is dead.'' The censor thinks it sounds suspicious. He changes it to ``Father is deceased.''

A letter goes back the other way : ``Father is dead, or deceased?''

2:42 AM  
Anonymous Mark V. said...

If this gets any traction I'm sure we'll find out this has been going on for some time and would have been exposed by the new Congress. (Consider the timing of the Daily News piece.) Doing it this way allows them control over how the Revelation will be made and give the new Congress something outrageous to distract them from their stated agenda.

Among my New Year's Resolutions: learn how to sweep for stray radio and WiFi signals in my home.

4:55 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

I think War Crimes ought to be good enough for impeachment. So is the wholesale abrogation of the Constitution that he pledged to "support and defend...against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

I found a well-written and reasonably concise article by Ken Sanders on Dissident Voice, demanding impeachment:

Love Your Country? Demand Impeachment

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give anybody power and they abuse it. even bloggers.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Which blogger has had actual power to abuse?

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

He's tapping all your phone calls.
He's reading all your mail.
He's knows what's in your bank account
So be good for goodness sake!

You better watch out
You better not cry
And don't you vote Dem
I'm telling you why:
The President is sending his thugs!

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not related, but I just HAD to click on the google ad, CHRIST: THE HUNGER FOR HIM.

I couldn't help it. I was famished.

Hey, this whole letter thing sounds like a good opportunity to Prank The President: let's mail copies of the constitution to each other, addressed to Bin Laden. Ooh, zing! That'll learn 'em.

Anyway, back to snacking on Christ.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

The Googlebots say they base their ads on keywords in posts, Josh.

The Googlebots lie.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

let's mail copies of the constitution to each other, addressed to Bin Laden.

Oh, I can just see the news reports now:

A man using the screen name "harmoniousjosh" was detained by the Department of Homeland Security on suspicion of providing terrorists with sensitive information on the US government and its operations. This terrorist was apprehended thanks to the government's program of mail surveillance.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I know about the googlebots. Lying bastards.

I was hoping the moniker "harmoniousjosh" would successfully convey the true badassness that is me. Should I have gone with my other choice, brucelillybottom?

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And by the way, alex, what's up with inactivist?

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...

Clinton perjured himself, which carries a five-year penalty under federal law. 18 U.S.C. 1621. The Constitution allows for impeachment for "high crimes and misdemeanors". Five year-penalties generally fall under lower-class felonies, which is more than any misdemeanor is punished.

As for Bush, impeachment is just the beginning. He and his cronies should be sent to The Hague, tried, and executed.

- Josh

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

harmoniousjosh-

I don't know what's up with Inactivist. I don't run the place, I just blog there. The person in charge is aware of the problem but way too busy to deal with it, and nobody has heard from the guy in charge of technical issues.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous stuartl said...

I'm not a lawyer, but based on the quote of the signing statement, it doesn't sound like Bush is doing anything unusual. According to wikipedia claiming exigent circumstances is allowed for:

"Those circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry (or other relevant prompt action) was necessary to prevent physical harm to the officers or other persons, the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of a suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts."

"Exigent circumstances may make a warrantless search constitutional if probable cause exists."

As an example, what if there is probable cause to believe a letter has anthrax in it?

5:22 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

@Wild Pegasus: "As for Bush, impeachment is just the beginning. He and his cronies should be sent to The Hague, tried, and executed."

While I agree totally, in principle, the fact is that the U.S. passed the "The Hague Invasion Act." to take the teeth out of any such threat. Even though our laws specifically authorize the Death Penalty for War Crimes, we don't submit to the auhority of the Hague.

See also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Servicemembers'_Protection_Act

7:58 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

I couldn't get to your blog this morning. Said it was unavailable.
I thought perhaps Bush's goons closed you down.

BTW, Why do you hate America?

11:51 AM  
Anonymous TC said...

Not to get into it, but something very much like this was enacted in 1998 by Clinton. Haniety mentioned it two days ago.


Oh and BTW, I think it's very important that envelopes containing anthrax and such be delivered to addressee promptly.

Oh and you might also spend a dimes worth of time looking at the bill that was passed! It's all about MONEY not infringing on your privacy, which you have none of already.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous TC said...

A couple of links to the REAL Bill.

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1006/100306p1.htm

http://www.apwu.org/news/burrus/2006/update18-2006-121106.htm

7:23 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

@tc: Oh and you might also spend a dimes worth of time looking at the bill that was passed! It's all about MONEY not infringing on your privacy, which you have none of already.

Ultimately, however, this is Jennifer's point. The protested action ISN'T part of this (or any other) "real bill"! It's simply arrogated using a "signing statement", which doesn't pass through congress at all!

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that impeachment was somehow castrated by what the GOP did to Clinton is very strange idea, IMHO. It probably originated with Lieberman or the DLC 'bipartisans'. Starting a war under false pretenses and then screwing it up through repeated and deliberate misfeasance is a very good reason to impeach a president.

And a vice president.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Starting a war under false pretenses and then screwing it up through repeated and deliberate misfeasance is a very good reason to impeach a president.

Indeed it is, but I've seen multiple people (in online discussion forums) throw the "partisan!" accusation at anyone who suggests that the current administration deserves impeachment, and many more go further and say that wanting to impeach Bush while thinking Clinton did NOT deserve impeachment is hypocrisy.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

and many more go further and say that wanting to impeach Bush while thinking Clinton did NOT deserve impeachment is hypocrisy.

Sure. One is guilty of war crimes and wholesale violation of the constitution. The other is guilty of being a still-functional male. Clearly the same category of offense.

(Sorry, I clearly must have a big sarcastic streak going, today.)

2:06 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

"Sure. One is guilty of war crimes and wholesale violation of the constitution. The other is guilty of being a still-functional male. Clearly the same category of offense."

If memory serves, Cigar Bill was not accused of being a still-functional male, but of perjury. That is to say - he was a lying son of bitch - as well as a dishonorable one. But then, most politicians are; they're just not supposed to lie to a Judge. Judges take a dim view of that.

5:44 PM  

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