Brief history of warrantless searches

conducted in the name of national security, without huge sensational splashes about them in the New York Times, I might add:

One of the most famous examples of warrantless searches in recent years was the investigation of CIA official Aldrich H. Ames, who ultimately pleaded guilty to spying for the former Soviet Union. That case was largely built upon secret searches of Ames’ home and office in 1993, conducted without federal warrants.

In 1994, President Clinton expanded the use of warrantless searches to entirely domestic situations with no foreign intelligence value whatsoever. In a radio address promoting a crime-fighting bill, Mr. Clinton discussed a new policy to conduct warrantless searches in highly violent public housing projects.

Previous administrations also asserted the authority of the president to conduct searches in the interest of national security.

In 1978, for instance, Attorney General Griffin B. Bell testified before a federal judge about warrantless searches he and President Carter had authorized against two men suspected of spying on behalf of the Vietnam government.

That same year, Congress approved and Mr. Carter signed FISA, which created the secret court and required federal agents to get approval to conduct electronic surveillance in most foreign intelligence cases.

Well, whadda ya know? Precedent set by other – presidents – in the interest of national security. Yet we have to have hearings on the Hill this time around.

More: Jay at Stop the ACLU and Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House blog today about the ACLU’s attempt, under the Freedom of Information Act, to do the following (via the ACLU’s site) – emphasis added:

[…] seek all records about “the policies, procedures and/or practices of the National Security Agency for gathering information through warrantless electronic surveillance and/or warrantless physical searches in the United States …”… Information received by the organization will be made public on its Web site.


Update I: John Schmidt, the associate attorney general who served in the Clinton admininstration from 1994-1997 says the President does indeed have the authority to OK the wiretaps. Thrown that one in with the rest of the legal opinions being volleyed back and forth.

(Cross-posted at California Conservative)

Update II: Read more via Dean, QOAE, and Junkyard Blog (thanks, PCD)

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