04 January 2007

Construing the Republic: the President signs



Originally uploaded by old_b1oke.
NY Daily News' James Gordon Meek reports that the President of the United States says it's o.k. for him to read your mail. Apropos of nothing, "President Bush added a "signing statement" in recently passed postal reform bill that may give him new powers to pry into your mail - without a warrant... 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. ... "Despite the President's statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill. Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.... Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane reform measures. But it also explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval. Yet 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." ... [An expert] said that Bush is "using the same legal reasoning to justify warrantless opening of domestic mail" as he did with warrantless eavesdropping.