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Bush’s “Domestic Spying Programme,” My Take…

Bush has been doing broad taps (not really taps, as wires are fairly rare nowadays) on U.S. citizens, nationals, and visitors who were having communication between themselves and members of nations where terrorists are known to reside. He didn’t look for judicial review, but he did give information on the “taps” to members of Congress to varying degrees. It’s fairly clear from most of the stories and most of the sources that Bush has not been attempting to find out personal information on American citizens to be used against them in criminal or political prosecution.

It appears these taps were a legitimate excercise in trying to find hidden members of our stateless enemies. There are a great many technical legal issues at work here. I’ve heard from some exceptional legal scholars who take differing views based on the Presidential powers to wage war versus citizens’ right to privacy. But to me, this issue rests simply on a single question:

Does the President have the legal right to spy on spies?

I say yes.

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5 Responses

  1. I read a NY Times article awhile ago (can’t find it now) that says that a very solid majority of those who have been watched under the program were not spies.

    The real question seems to be: can the President spy on people that he thinks are spies? And I think when you put that doubt in, it becomes a lot foggier.

  2. I have no doubt that a lot of people initially “tapped” weren’t spies, and I’m sure just as quickly as they were tapped they were dropped from a watch list as that would maximize resources for the NSA. Any criminal evidence gained from such a tap is inadmissable in our courts, and I doubt that will change.

  3. I don’t know legal stuff too well, but if it’s inadmissable in court, isn’t that the court’s way of saying the evidence that is obtained is legally questionable? Otherwise whats the point of making it inadmissable? I’m not trying to be combative, I actually don’t know.

  4. Kyle, you are falling into the trap of trying to fight terrorism as if it is a domestic crime. It isn’t. It is an attack on the security of this nation using as military a force that someone trapped in a cave in Pakistan can muster. I think that anything we do in order to prevent a military or paramilitary attack is legal under the constitutional duty of the President to protect the country including domestic gathering of information, including actions that would be against the 4th amendment right of a person to be secure against unreasonable searches.

    Be that as it may, I think that once you broadcast a call where anyone can listen to it the government is no longer required to search “persons, houses, papers and effects,” it falls into a different legal category. I think they can use anything you say or any information they may gather about you that doesn’t require a search. For instance, if you put stuff in your garbage the government can look in your garbage and use anything they find legally without a warrant. A phone call that is broadcast(and all overseas calls do not travel on wires exclusively) does not have to be searched, and falls into, IMO, the same category as the garbage can.

  5. So are you saying that phone-taps would be admissable in court?

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