Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Clinton and Warrantless Searches

We are reminded by Byron York at National Review Online that Pres. Clinton's administration believed that the president has inherent authority to conduct even physical searches without a warrant, which are more intrusive than the warrantless wiretaps in controversy today.

"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."

"It is important to understand," Gorelick continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."

Executive Order 12333, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, provides for such warrantless searches directed against "a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power."

Unlike the hystreria today and despite Clinton's claimed right to conduct more intrusive searches, there was no outcry in 1994 over the loss of civil liberties and invasion of privacy. Of course, Clinton is a Democrat, and Bush is a Republican.

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