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The Woodshed and DeWine

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Senator Mike DeWineThis morning, I sent an email to Senator Mike DeWine's office. I strongly recommend that everyone do the same. Here's a copy of the letter for you to read:

Dear Senator DeWine,

I've read a good portion of your proposed legislation (S2455) and wanted to drop you a quick reminder that you may want to consider. I know that what I'm about to say is a sore subject with you, as expressed by your comments on Fox News when interviewed by Jim Angle, but your bill is in direct violation with the language of the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
~ Amendment IV, The Constitution of the United States of America

I know that you would rather not have a "debate about whether it's Constitutional or is not Constitutional," but I'm afraid that if we ignore the Constitution, we'll be forced to ignore you, too. You see, Mr. DeWine, that very same Constitution you would have us ignore also gives you your legislative powers. Without it, you're nothing.

A couple of points to note. The bill introduced by Senators Mr. DeWine, Mr. Graham, Mr. Hagel, and Ms. Snowe can be read here. It's short title is the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006. Mike's comments on Fox News and my response to them can be read here. Reprinted below is the violative language of this bill:

a) IN GENERAL.-Notwithstanding any provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), chapter 119 of title 18, United States Code, or any other provision of law related to the interception or collection of communications, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize a program of electronic surveillance without a court order for periods of up to 45 days if-

  (1) the President determines that the surveillance is necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests, whether inside the United States or outside the United States;

  (2) there is probable cause to believe that one party subject to the surveillance is an agent or member of a group or organization, affiliated with a group or organization, or working in support of a group or organization on the list established under section 3;

  (3) the surveillance is initiated and conducted in a manner reasonably designed to acquire only communications to or from the United States where-

    (A) at least one party to such communications is reasonably believed to be physically located outside the United States; or

    (B) such communications appear to originate or terminate outside the United States;

  (4) there is not a substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the substance of any communication where every party to such communication is physically located within the United States;

  (5) a significant purpose of the surveillance is to obtain foreign intelligence information; and

  (6) minimization procedures are in place with respect to the surveillance which meet the standards for minimization procedures under section 101(h) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801(h)).

As anyone can clearly see, this bill violates the prohibitions set forth by the Fourth Amendment of demanding a warrant in order for searches and seizures to be conducted by government. This bill essentially attempts to end-run the constitution by focusing attention on the parties of surveilled conversations who are not U.S. persons. But, if one reads the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, one will see that in every instance a surveillance order comes in contact with a U.S. person, they must get a warrant to continue. No amount of legislation can subvert the prohibitions set down by the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment. Only our complacency can accomplish that feat.


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