Monday, March 20, 2006


Senator Saxby Chambliss has no problem wrapping himself in the American flag while he violates his oath to defend the Constitution

(This column appears in the 3-23-06 THE ALBANY JOURNAL)

“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.”

Fourth Amendment to U.S. Constitution, proposed when America’s first Congress under our Constitution met in 1789, ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights.

“The Government's activities in electronically listening to and recording the petitioner's words violated the privacy upon which he justifiably relied while using the telephone booth and thus constituted a "search and seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.... it is clear ... a duly authorized magistrate ... could constitutionally have authorized, with appropriate safeguards, the very limited search and seizure that the Government asserts in fact took place.”

from the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Katz v. United States which, for the first time, ruled that the Fourth Amendment protects the privacy of telephone conversations from warrantless intercepts.

“Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”

from December 16, 2005, New York Times article by James Risen: “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts.”

* April 20, 2004: "When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."

* July 14, 2004: "... the government can't move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order"

* June 9, 2005: "Law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, a federal judge's permission to track his calls, or a federal judge's permission to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of these tools."

President Bush’s public statements after he had authorized illegal, warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the NSA.


Senator Feingold’s Resolution to Censure President Bush for violating his oath to support the Constitution

On March 13th, I e-mailed Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss and asked him to vote in favor of Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold’s resolution to censure President George W. Bush for violating his oath of office and breaking the law. That day, Senator Feingold told the Senate:

“... when the President of the United States breaks the law, he must be held accountable. That is why today I am introducing a resolution to censure President George W. Bush.

The President authorized an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil, and then misled Congress and the public about the existence and legality of that program. It is up to this body to reaffirm the rule of law by condemning the President’s actions.”

Senator Chambliss responded to me as follows:

“Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Security Agency's (NSA) monitoring of conversations connected to terrorist activity. I appreciate hearing from you.

The President has publicly discussed certain activities of the NSA that he authorized in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation. As described by the President, the NSA intercepts certain international communications into and out of the United States of persons linked to terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and its affiliated groups. The President has said that the purpose of the Presidential directive is to prevent another catastrophic attack on our country.

As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, two of the terrorist hijackers who attacked the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, were communicating with other members of al Qaeda overseas while they were in the United States preparing for their deadly attack. Regrettably, we did not know this until it was too late. The President's actions attempt to address weaknesses in our early warning system, making it more likely that terrorists, like the 9/11 hijackers, will be identified and located in time to prevent another disaster.

As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am aware that Administration briefings of this type are limited to a very few, and that Congressional leaders from both parties were briefed on several occasions.

The world changed on September 11, 2001, demonstrating that it is vitally important that the President of the United States must have the power and authority to act on information to protect the American people from future acts of terrorism by al-Qaeda and terrorists who target the United States.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. As always, I appreciate hearing from you...

Saxby Chambliss,
United States Senate”

I’ve known Saxby Chambliss since he was a trial lawyer in Moultrie, and although I’m sure he’s no constitutional scholar, there is no doubt in my mind that he studied both the Fourth Amendment and Katz v. United States in law school. When he became a Senator, he swore an oath to “support this Constitution of the United States." Saxby knows that spying on domestic telephone calls violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. He also knows that his defense of illegal phone taps to prevent another terrorist attack is a sad joke. On March 20th the Los Angeles Times reported that:

“The FBI agent who arrested Zacarias Moussaoui weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks described with great regret today how his superiors in Washington repeatedly blocked his attempts to find out whether Moussaoui was part of a widespread terrorist cell intent on attacking the United States. Special Agent Harry Samit also said his superiors did not share other critical counterterrorism intelligence with him, such as a memo from the FBI's Phoenix office about suspected terrorists taking flight lessons and a briefing for President Bush citing intelligence that planes might be hijacked.

Samit said his superiors told him right after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that it was "just a coincidence" unrelated to the case he was trying to make against Moussaoui... Samit said he now believed his FBI superiors were guilty of "criminal negligence and obstruction" and that they thwarted his efforts in the interest of protecting their own careers. He called their actions a "calculated" management decision "that cost us the opportunity to stop the attacks."

When I wrote back to Saxby, I pointed out to him that:

“... Attorney General Gonzalez admitted to the Senate committee that Al Qaida already knew we were wiretapping and they would be unlikely to be so stupid as to communicate terrorist plans via cellphone or e-mail from the United States. The FBI reports that all or virtually all of the illegal NSA intercepts turned over to them were useless and a waste of time.

The information already in the hands of the FBI and CIA before 9-11, had they bothered to analyze it or speak to each other, was more than enough to tip off authorities of Al Qaida's intended use of hijacked airplanes as bombs. President Bush ignored the August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief "Osama Bin Laden determined to attack within the United States" and spent the next six weeks on vacation in Crawford, Texas, cutting brush and riding his bicycle.

The FISA law allowed the executive branch, in an emergency, to obtain a warrant 72 hours AFTER wiretapping, and President Bush had no need to violate the law....

The upshot is that the President of the United States violated his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution when he deliberately violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen who was wiretapped without a warrant...

9-11 didn't change everything. It didn't change the Constitution of the United States...



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