Sunday, January 29, 2006

Probable Cause v. Reasonable Belief

The NSA's "wartime" interpretation of the 4th Amendment came under fire last week. WPHT-AM's Michael Smerconish interviewed the Knight-Ridder reporter (Jonathan Landay)who questioned General Michael Hayden on his understanding of the amendment. For more, see FAIR's take on the issue. Also good is this insight from Cut to the Chase.

Seems that this administration is very good at taking parts of the Constitution it likes and discarding parts that interfere with their plans. Since "probable cause" is the backbone of the 4th Amendment, dropping any mention of it raises serious questions for Attorney General Gonzales. Of course, this new interpretation was crafted by the same man who said torture is whatever the Bush Administration says it is.

The fact that the Bushies have tried to make end runs around FISA courts that routinely rubber-stamp government requests for wiretapping is also troublesome. Exactly how weak are their cases for spying on international calls? Surely a FISA court would understand that technology has evolved greatly since the late 70s, when FISA was created. This understanding should take into account cell phones, Blackberries and VOIP, among other advances. The government still has the right under FISA to snoop for 72 hours before having to go to the super-secret FISA courts with their evidence. And still, this administration makes excuses.


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