Bush: We've Got Your Mail and We're Opening It

A postal law enacted in December allows the Government to open our mail.

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.

This is but another example of Bush's unitary theory of Government, that he as executive can trump the will of Congress and the judiciary.

....in his statement Bush said he will "construe" an exception, "which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent ... with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances."

Bush cited as examples the need to "protect human life and safety against hazardous materials and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection."

Opening mail has always required a search warrant.

Critics point out the administration could quickly get a warrant from a criminal court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to search targeted mail, and the Postal Service could block delivery in the meantime.

Is there any provision of the Constitution Bush doesn't feel free to trample?

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    who can ever forget this (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by soccerdad on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 11:18:41 AM EST
    George Bush: "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator." December 18, 2000


    WHAT? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by peacrevol on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 11:37:17 AM EST
    What's the point of this? Why cant they just stop the mail while they obtain the necessary search warrant if it's truly something that needs to be opened prior to delivery to save lives or whatever. This is how it starts. First they say we can trust them, it's only for extreme circumstances. And then before you know it, it's let's open everybody's mail day down at the FBI. Why stop there, they'll get automatic passes to email passwords, credit cards, and any other record they have of you so that if you get in their way, they'll simply push you aside by rearranging some personal files. Nothing to it. Done...AND...Done. Govt has too much power as it is. Let's not let them take over everything.

    Can they (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Patrick on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 03:36:41 PM EST
    At least pay my bills...or delay them a month or two?  

    That reminds me. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 11:25:46 AM EST
    There are some letters I've been meaning to write.......

    this should surprise me, but doesn't (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 11:47:49 AM EST
    and I'll tell you why.

    1.  They've been tracking mail for years.  This is just the next step.  

    2.  I don't doubt for a minute they've been opening mail for a while, because this isn't the sort of thing Bushie and his counsel would dream up for a signing statement that responds to a statute explicitly prohibiting opening mail without a warrant.  The prohibitory statute would not have come about absent an existing problem - societies (of whatever stripe) don't write into their legal codes prohibitions on problems which don't exist.

    But, further and back to the tracking mail story.  This was related to me by an unimpeachable source.

    Back after the still-unsolved anthrax attacks on 2001-2002, the FBI sent agents out, tracking down the mail which was near-in-the-mail-stream to the affected letters.  They were looking to find whether there had been any cross-contamination of other mail, and also to recover any infected/affected mail.  A friend worked in a multi-story office building which had the devoted attention of at least one cheerful, courteous young FBI agent during this needle-in-haystack search.  This agent went from one office to the next office for over a week, inquiring in each whether they had received any mail during a specified period from addresses in South Jersey.  Remember, the mail had come from public boxes in South Jersey* and had been processed through a bulk center in that area, which had to be shut down from contamination for an extended period.  It took time for the search, because many of these offices (like so many offices) had large quantities of paper and files to go through, one-by-one.  

    At one point, the agent came to a law office, where arose the issue of "we're a law office and surely have confidential client communications in our files.  We cannot ethically allow the FBI to root through them, no matter how noble the purpose."  Agent, I'm told, was polite and reached a compromise where agent said what they were looking for and law office agreed to look and advise if anything responsive was there (it turned out there wasn't anything).

    In the course of the discussion, I'm told, agent was asked why, out of all the office buildings in the world, the FBI had chosen this one for its attentions.  Agent's answer was vague but along the lines that the machinery for sorting mail had the capability to know where the mail went, and they knew mail addressed to this particular office building was near the poisoned letter, in the mail stream.

    I'm speculating, now, but I suppose it has something to do with the bar codes in postmarks, etc.  I mean, you don't really think every letter gets sent on its way by human hands and eyes?

    * Didn't you ever wonder how it was that the FBI was able to determine which public mailbox the poisoned letters had been mailed from?  Remember, there were press reports back then on their finding the mailboxes (and having to deal with their being contaminated...).

    I read the article... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 11:48:14 AM EST
    in the Daily News this morning with great dismay.  I guess its only a federal offense to open someone's mail if you aren't a fed.  Another nail in freedom's coffin I'm afraid.  

    Great headline though..."Bush Goes Postal"

    Oddly enough this may be the straw that... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Bill Arnett on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 01:15:17 PM EST
    ...breaks the camel's back as grandmothers, wives, and relatives of all kinds realize that their mail will no longer be private, for we all know by now that if bush claims a power, he has already used it and is retroactively covering his @$$ with this signing statement.

    Congress needs to pull together veto-proof majorities to pass a law rendering signing statements unlawful, of no legal import whatever, and stating clearly that no court can consider or in any way give any deference to a signing statement for any purpose whatsoever. Make them a legal nullity.

    If bush persists in violating the constitution in this manner, they should indeed commence impeachment proceedings and keep him so bogged down responding to subpoena and investigations that he won't be able to continue on this destructive path down which he leads America.

    Let Bush be Bush (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by wlgriffi on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 02:10:54 PM EST
    Don't be surprised when you are deluged with the wingnut reminder "if you haven't anything to hide you have no need to be afraid".

    Bush is God (none / 0) (#8)
    by proudleftists on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 02:24:58 PM EST
    At least he thinks so. The Demcrats must hold hearings about the Bush administration's corruption and incompetence, and if leads to impeachment so be it.

    The Scientologists (none / 0) (#10)
    by Kitt on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 08:58:01 PM EST
    have been sending me all kinds of crap, and here, I was thinking it was Jim. ;0

    loss of freedom (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 07:18:39 PM EST
    On college campuses, conservatives, and even Rahm Emanuel, are heckled and brown-shirted off stages, having their freedom to express themselves actually impeded.  Here, we endlessly berate Bush for theoretically cutting into our freedoms, but who here can show an actual consequence which directly affected their own life from these Bush hijinks?

    not quite the same ... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Sailor on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 11:44:26 PM EST
    ... to equate a few rude folks with the federal government.

    As to what rights have folks lost, we've covered that material over and over. Here's another one.


    If proof exists... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 08:25:19 AM EST
    it's classified as top secret due to national security.  As others have pointed out, the only reason for the signing statement is because it has been done or will be done.

    The feds have a blank check...carte blanche....free reign.

    That's not the way its supposed to be brother.  I get so dismayed when right and left can't even agree on the important stuff..like the foundations of our free republic.  

    It's simple...the govt. can't open your mail without a warrant.  Can't listen to your phone calls without a warrant.  Can't search your house without a warrant.  These protections are absolutely vital.  


    Diogenes (none / 0) (#15)
    by Edger on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 09:02:40 AM EST
    is disingenuously trying to pretend he's a liberal, and using a troll tactic of trying to sneak in unnoticed through the back door with hope that people will fall for his false premise of "theoretical" loss of freedom that in his mind should bother no one if it hasn't "directly affected their own life" - and screw everyone else.

    "we", diogenes? You've berated bush here? Hah.

    Go tell it to Jose Padilla, diogenes.


    Help get this right-wing fool thrown off the air!! (none / 0) (#12)
    by markm8128 on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 11:02:14 PM EST
    Help get this right-wing fool thrown off the air!!!

    Didn't CNN get the message from the last election....that the American public has rejected the right-wing extremist agenda?
    Why is CNN giving prime-time every night to the ultra-right-wing extremist, Glenn Beck?

    Please take just 10 seconds to click on this link and send a message to  CNN telling them we don't want the airwaves innundated by this idiotic
    low-grade right-wing propaganda!