Bush: I Can Read Your Mail

The New York Daily News is reporting on a signing statement President Bush issued two weeks ago when signing a postal reform bill, in which he “asserts his right to open mail without a warrant.”

“Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane reform measures. But it also explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court’s approval.

Yet in his statement Bush said he will “construe” an exception, “which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent … with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.”

What are signing statements? According to Wikipedia: “A signing statement is a written pronouncement issued by the President of the United States upon the signing of a bill into law.” Bush loves signing statements. Are they legal? There’s some debate about it.

According to New York Daily News:”[The Presidents'] claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.”

Bottom line: Bush wants to read your mail, and he’s going to see you making fun of him in your Christmas card. —MEGHANN MARCO

W pushes envelope on U.S. spying [NewYork Daily News via BoingBoing]

Bush Claims Right to Open Mail [Washington Post]

Comments

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  1. kerry says:

    Where did you get that awesome Christmas card?

  2. RexRhino says:

    If you open my mail, and it is a bill, you should have to pay for it!

  3. acambras says:

    Great card! I wish I were friends with that couple (on the left), so I could be on their Christmas card list for next year.

  4. Meg Marco says:

    http://flickr.com/photos/flysi/76299067/

    Let’s all be friends with them.

  5. squidhat says:

    America needs an enema.

  6. If an executive can contradict a bill by appending a signing statement to it . . . I dunno, doesn’t that kind of make a mockery of the legislative system?

    Nevermind, I forgot for a second who we were talking about here.

  7. Antediluvian says:

    Shouldn’t a BushCo holiday card at least say, “Merry Christmas”?

    Damn Bush and his war on Christmas! If Christmas wins, the terrorists have — wait, just say no to drugs — war on laziness — RIAA, piracy.

    Lost my train of — oh, shiny!

  8. Brian Gee says:

    The dude is a serious asshole. I guess I should start writing notes to George in the memo field of my checks.

    I’m pretty sure Judicial oversight can test the legality of some Dickhead… i mean Dictator.. i mean the President opening your mail without a warrant. Signing statements really aren’t the final word. You know, unless he’s stacked the Supremes in his favor.

    And assuming you are able to file a lawsuit before you’re secretly incarcerated as an enemy combatant on trumped-up secret charges.

    There’s gonna be some insane legalspeak trying to undo all this BS over the next 20 years.

  9. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Gee, there’s a surprise. He must’ve gotten tired of data-mining telephone numbers and looking through people’s banking records.

  10. juri squared says:

    This seriously freaks me out. This marks how many times the President has tried to undermine our rights to privacy?

  11. Chaoticfluffy says:

    @Brian Gee: The fun part is going to be watching them try to undo it without “insulting” Bush (who will be…uh…an elder statesman…or something) or letting on that he, you know, might actually have been breaking some laws with all this stuff. Too bad President Ford’s gone, he might have been able to give the next prez some pointers on that one…

  12. Paul D says:

    From now on, I’m going to be ending all my correspondence with:

    “And George, if you’re reading this…F*CK YOU IN YOUR EAR-HOLE!”

  13. Bobg says:

    I’d like to apologise to America. I voted for Bush.

  14. ckshort says:

    You all need to seriously read up on what really occured with this. I’m by no means a fan of Bush and I’ll be happy when the guy is out of office, but this isn’t a change in existing law.

    Not that most of you will read it, but a good breakdown of what really happen is available here: http://powerlineblog.com/archives/016398.php

  15. mfergel says:

    ***You all need to seriously read up on what really occured with this. I’m by no means a fan of Bush and I’ll be happy when the guy is out of office, but this isn’t a change in existing law.****

    And as stated, if it’s not a change, then why add the signing statement? Bush has never done anything without a devious motive behind it.

  16. Sudonum says:

    I guess all that partying has really taken its toll on the twins, or at least one of them.

  17. Pelagius says:

    I hope they provide a larger budget for Information Management. Those guys are going to be super busy next year.

  18. pestie says:

    Our “president” makes me sick to my stomach. Now if only the Democrats actually had spines and/or testicles and would, you know, impeach or something! The Republicans didn’t hesitate when Clinton got caught, quite literally, with his pants down. How about we impeach a president who not only lies, but who willingly dismantles the Constitution while daring us to stop him, and who fights unjust wars and gets Americans and foreigners killed by the thousands, to promote the agenda of the people who put him in office?

  19. mfergel says:

    Impeach Bush…..? Man, that would leave us stuck with Chenney…..no thanks.

  20. Mike_ says:

    Impeach them both and swear in President Pelosi.

  21. ckshort says:

    mfergel:

    The purpose of a signing statement is to clarify the executive branch’s interpretation of the law. In this case it was to emphasis that the creation of a new class of mail does not affect anything else.

    Now, if Congress or the courts disagree, Congress is free to take action immediately and the courts can take action whenever someone with standing brings suit over it. The likelihood of the courts seeing this on their docket anytime soon is about zero. And I doubt Congress as a whole cares enough about a restatement of current law to take any action limiting executive branch powers.

    Additionally, even the 4th amendment to the US constitution does not specifically require warrants to perform searches. It requires that the searches be reasonable. Often for the search to be reasonable, the search needs a warrant to be executed first. However, this is not and has never been a universal requirement in this country.

  22. E-Bell says:

    ckshort is correct.

    This signing statement merely affirmed what is already long-recognized as lawful.

    A search of anything – your house, your boat, your mail, your rectum – can be conducted without a warrant under exigent circumstances. The signing statement itself states that such exigent circumstances include, “to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials.”

    The second thing the signing statement says is that the mail can be searched for foreign intelligence materials as specifically authorized by law.

    The only thing that’s messed up about this story is the media’s unwillingness, through either stupidity, laziness or bias (take your pick), to actually read the statement in question.

    Instead, they chose to blindly run with Henry Waxman’s press release.

    As for why Bush chooses to amend these “signing statements” to nearly every bill he signs, your guess is as good as mine. They carry no legal authority and only serve – as in this case – to embarrass the President.

  23. orielbean says:

    Impeach = 2/3rd majority vote to pass. Won’t happen in this lifetime. Pray for witty bumper stickers; that’s about all we will get for closure on this sad chapter.