Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bill Clinton's "no warrant" searches, plus his NSA's "Economic Espionage"

Brilliant piece by Byron York. Excerpt:
In a little-remembered debate from 1994, the Clinton administration argued that the president has "inherent authority" to order physical searches — including break-ins at the homes of U.S. citizens — for foreign intelligence purposes without any warrant or permission from any outside body. Even after the administration ultimately agreed with Congress's decision to place the authority to pre-approve such searches in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, President Clinton still maintained that he had sufficient authority to order such searches on his own.

"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."

Reporting the day after Gorelick's testimony, the Washington Post's headline — on page A-19 — read, "Administration Backing No-Warrant Spy Searches." The story began, "The Clinton administration, in a little-noticed facet of the debate on intelligence reforms, is seeking congressional authorization for U.S. spies to continue conducting clandestine searches at foreign embassies in Washington and other cities without a federal court order. The administration's quiet lobbying effort is aimed at modifying draft legislation that would require U.S. counterintelligence officials to get a court order before secretly snooping inside the homes or workplaces of suspected foreign agents or foreign powers."

In her testimony, Gorelick made clear that the president believed he had the power to order warrantless searches for the purpose of gathering intelligence, even if there was no reason to believe that the search might uncover evidence of a crime. "Intelligence is often long range, its exact targets are more difficult to identify, and its focus is less precise," Gorelick said. "Information gathering for policy making and prevention, rather than prosecution, are its primary focus."

The debate over warrantless searches came up after the case of CIA spy Aldrich Ames. Authorities had searched Ames's house without a warrant, and the Justice Department feared that Ames's lawyers would challenge the search in court. Meanwhile, Congress began discussing a measure under which the authorization for break-ins would be handled like the authorization for wiretaps, that is, by the FISA court. In her testimony, Gorelick signaled that the administration would go along a congressional decision to place such searches under the court — if, as she testified, it "does not restrict the president's ability to collect foreign intelligence necessary for the national security." In the end, Congress placed the searches under the FISA court, but the Clinton administration did not back down from its contention that the president had the authority to act when necessary.
Jamie Gorelick, whose wall prevented interagency data sharing was in large part responsible for 9/11, argued that presidents had the authority to conduct warrantless searches for purposes of foreign intelligence gathering. After all, these aren't criminal searches: they are security searches. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the propriety of such searches, the fact remains that such searches appear legal.

And if the left and the MSM (pardon the redundancy) are going to accuse the president of being a law-breaker, they are going to be severely handicapped with the facts. Damn, those things really get in the way sometimes, huh?

How about this gem, too? From NewsMax:
During the 1990s, President Bill Clinton ordered the National Security Agency to use its super-secret Echelon surveillance program to monitor the personal telephone calls and private email of employees who worked for foreign companies in a bid to boost U.S. trade, NewsMax.com has learned.

In 2000, former Clinton CIA director James Woolsey set off a firestorm of protest in Europe when he told the French newspaper Le Figaro that he was ordered by Clinton in 1993 to transform Echelon into a tool for gathering economic intelligence.

"We have a triple and limited objective," the former intelligence chief told the French paper. "To look out for companies which are breaking US or UN sanctions; to trace 'dual' technologies, i.e., for civil and military use, and to track corruption in international business."

As NewsMax reported exclusively on Sunday, Echelon had been used by the Clinton administration to monitor millions of personal phone calls, private emails and even ATM transactions inside the U.S. - all without a court order.

The massive invasion of privacy was justified by Echelon's defenders as an indispensable national security tool in the war on terror.
But Clinton officials also utilized the program in ways that had nothing to do with national security - such as conducting economic espionage against foreign businesses.
That wasn't even under the guise of national security!

This goes beyond the usual hypocrisy and idiocy we've come to expect from the left. This is another case of the left being driven by a scorching case of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) that they've abandoned any concerns they may have had over national security...and knowing the left, those concerns were never genuine, anyway. You morons can't tell the President of the U.S. to "connect the dots", then tell him "you can't connect those dots!" You can't say "catch the terrorists, just don't look or listen!"

If such searches were good enough for Mr. Cigar Prober as president, then they're good enough for the current president who's forced to do the dirty work of cleaning up the terrorism mess left by his predecessor.