Monday, August 6, 2007

Going Beyond Unreasonable Searches & Seizures

The new law that Bush signed has violations of the 4th Amendment written all over it. According to an article by the NY Times, the new law both expands the definition of "electronic surveillance" and clarified the FISA act of 1978 to allow for warrantless searches.

The article reads:

“This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation.

Previously, the government needed search warrants approved by a special intelligence court to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, e-mail messages and other electronic communications between individuals inside the United States and people overseas, if the government conducted the surveillance inside the United States.

By changing the legal definition of what is considered “electronic surveillance,” the new law allows the government to eavesdrop on those conversations without warrants — latching on to those giant switches — as long as the target of the government’s surveillance is “reasonably believed” to be overseas."

Bush's decision goes against the general prevailing jurisprudence on this issue in the lower courts which have reviewed this matter. Recall that nearly a year ago on August 16, 2006 a Detroit district judge, Anna Diggs Taylor, ruled that the NSA terrorist surveillance program violated the 4th Amendment. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals failed to rule on the issue throwing it out on the justiciability doctrine of standing and thus refused to rule on the actual merits of the case.

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