Thursday, April 3, 2008

U.S. Judgment Set Aside Search Rights

It boggles the mind how the Bushies interpreted the law. Yet this one is frightening.

The Justice Department concluded shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks that constitutional protections against unreasonable searches didn't apply to "domestic military operations," according to a recently declassified Justice Department document.

What in hell are "domestic military operations"?

What activities the judgment intended to cover is unknown because the opinion is classified, but the ACLU concluded it related to warrantless surveillance based on information provided in another lawsuit.

Surveillance is a military operation? Perhaps it is conducted by military intelligence?

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the warrantless spying program "relied on a separate set of legal opinions" that have been shared with Congress. Jameel Jaffer, of the ACLU, said Mr. Fratto's explanation raised more questions. "What kind of surveillance program was it meant to justify, then?" he asked. Suzanne Spaulding, a former CIA counsel, said the opinion -- written by former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo -- may have been designed to permit what might otherwise be considered invasive searches as part of military activities on U.S. soil in response to an attack, given that the administration had concluded the new battlefield now included the U.S.

The US a battlefield? It makes me shudder to contemplate what they have done: operations inside the country are labeled military. Putting the government on a tack of conducting domestic military operations is frightening.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an entry on its website discussing this matter. Does this mean that the Administration's lawyers believed that it could spy on Americans with impunity and face no Fourth Amendment claim? It may, and based on the thinnest of legal claims -- that Congress unintentionally allowed mass surveillance of Americans when it passed the Authorization of Use of Military Force in October 2001. In their arguments on the warrantless surveillance program, they try to portray them as "military" in nature, even though they occurred in the United States, far from the military theater.

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