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By DOUG THOMPSON
Good God. Is there not any part of our private lives left that George W. Bush’s goon squads can’t snoop into without a warrant?
In yet another of his infamous “signing statements” attached to a routine piece of postal legislation, Bush said his administration would twist the law to allow “in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.”
That means the feds can open your mail and mine, without a warrant, simply because Bush has decided he has the power to do so.
Supposedly, federal law requires government agents to obtain warrants before examining first class mail sent to American citizens (or, for that matter, to anyone in the United States).
But laws mean nothing to Bush. He ignored the laws of both nations and morality to launch a lies-based invasion of Iraq. He ordered the National Security Agency to tap the phone calls of any American it wanted, a move that a federal judge ruled unconstitutional but that is also a ruling the administration continues to ignore until, at least, the matter can be heard by the Supreme Court.
His Gestapo-like Department of Homeland Security routinely spies on Americans, the Pentagon has unleashed battalions of intelligence officers to snoop into the private lives of anyone who dares question Bush’s policies and the Transportation Security Agency bars administration critics from boarding a commercial airliner.
Now he wants to examine our mail, a move that Constitutional scholars and civil liberties experts say is a direct violation of just about every so-called guarantee of rights that used to be the law of the land.
“This signing statement raises serious questions whether he is authorizing opening of mail contrary to the Constitution and to laws enacted by Congress,” says Ann Beeson, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.
New York Democratic Congressman Charles Schumer says Bush is, once again, ignoring the Constitution he swore to uphold.
“Every American wants fool-proof protection against terrorism, but history has shown it can and should be done within the confines of the Constitution,” Schumer says.
Bush, however, doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Constitution. In 2005, two White House aides, independently of each other, told me other aides who attended a meeting on the USA Patriot Act claimed the President called the Constitution “just a goddamned piece of paper.” Although I’ve never been able to confirm that statement with anyone else inside the administration, I believe that Bush, given his record, made it. He holds that document, and the liberties it is supposed to protect, is callous disregard.
The ACLU plans to take Bush’s latest violation of basic American rights to court but to what end? He ignores federal court rulings at will and does whatever he damn well pleases. Those who disagree with him find themselves on the street. Just ask two Army generals who had the gall to suggest his failed Iraq war policies were wrong.
Can the new Democratic Congress stop Bush’s dictatorial abuse of power? Probably not. He has issued more “signing statements” than any President in history, each one stating that he believes he does not have to abide by any law passed by Congress because he is a “wartime president” with unlimited powers.
And, until somebody stops him, he can – and will – be exactly that.