can’t see the forest

In Case of Emergency: Bush Wants to Open Your Mail

From USA Today, via

WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday defended a policy that allows the government to open mail without a warrant, despite criticism that the crime-fighting tactic might lead to privacy breaches.

Bush administration and U.S. Postal Service officials said citizens’ mail remains constitutionally protected from unreasonable search and seizure. But White House spokesman Tony Snow said the government needs the power to inspect mail in emergencies.

The mail controversy erupted Wednesday after a report in the New York Daily News that on Dec. 20, President George W. Bush attached a so-called signing statement to a new postal law. The statement grants the government the authority during emergencies to bypass a law forbidding mail to be opened without a warrant. Snow said Bush was reiterating authority the government already has under the law.

Did you catch the magic phrase? Signing statements! That’s right, boys and girls; the President needs the authority to circumvent the Constitution—to protect our freedoms, of course.

In the freedom-hating USA of yesteryear, law enforcement was (ostensibly) required to secure a court warrant in order to open mail. Judiciary-be-gone! It’s apparently as simple as the stroke of a pen.

And, now, for a crash course in civics: in a functioning democracy, an insignificant entity called the people would be allowed to decide whether or not the executive arm of government is allowed to bypass chartered checks and balances at its leisure.

“This opens the door into the government prying into private communications,” said Brennan Center for Justice attorney Jonathan Hafetz. “It’s something we associate with a totalitarian or police state.”

Not to worry, citizens: I have a solution. Well, okay; it’s actually Hitler’s cryptographers’ solution, but let’s fight fire with fire, eh?


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