LETTERS: Parsing the 4th Amendment

By: E&P Staff

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Parsing the 4th Amendment

Re: Defending Spy Program, General Reveals Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment

Most of you are English and Journalism majors.

Don’t you see what the Attorney General and the Bush lawyers have done? They have “parsed” the amendment. Broke it in two. They are acting under the first part, unreasonable searches etc. As to the second part, since they have not requested warrants there is no need to act under probable cause.

I would bet that somewhere such an argument is made to justify “reasonable searches and seizures” and warrentless searches.

On CBS news this a.m. Alberto Gonzales made the same point on the fourth amendment (it went unchallenged) that the searches were reasonable under the amendment.

So apparently that is the spin, that the spying is legal under the 4th because it is a reasonable response to the “clear and present danger”.

Bob Reynolds
Orange Park, Fla.


The Soviet Solution

General Michael Hayden passes over the phrase “…upon probable cause…” in the Fourth Amendment.

One must admit that the security services of the 18th century were not burdened with the problem of satellite phones and email. Nor was it possible to plant an electronic bug in Thomas Jefferson’s quill pen.

In order to keep up with the times, may one suggest a practical Soviet solution to outmoded constitutional provisions?

Have all copies of the Constitution recalled, and print substitutes that omit the phrase cited above. An even cheaper remedy is to supply blank white adhesive strips of the proper size, which can be pasted over the obsolete phrase.

See? It’s quite simple.

Pavel Chichikov
Washington, D.C.


An Important Distinction

I’m afraid that in your excellent account of General Hayden’s testimony about the Fourth Amendment, you miss his point. The phrase “probable cause” relates to the issuance of warrants. Since the Administration claims warrants are unnecessary in these cases, they see no need for probable cause, merely for “reasonableness” of the search. Don’t misunderstand me — I think that the Framers believed “reasonable” searches were those for which there was “probable cause.” But that’s the distinction they are drawing.

David Kaiser


As I read the wording, it does apply a “reasonableness” standard to
searches and seizures and a “probable cause” standard to the issuing of warrants. It appears those are two different and distinct functions.

Dave Golo


Letters to Howell

Re: Latest ‘Wash Post’ Ombud Column Draws Over 1,000 E-mails

The volume of letters to Deborah Howell is symptomatic of the disgust so many people feel at how the profit-driven, offend-no-conservative-source mainstream media are failing this country. He said the emperor has no clothes, she said he’s dressed to the nines doesn’t cut it and never did. Ferreting out truth is Job 1 for the media instead of just presenting spin.

Bill Dunn
Middleton, Wis.


White House Knowledge of Potential Katrina Effects

Re: ‘Wash Post’: White House Had Early Warning on Katrina

Am I the only one who considers this not to be breaking news but the long awaited dropping of the other shoe?

“Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, told the Times-Picayune Sunday afternoon that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff in advance of Hurricane Katrina slamming Louisiana and Mississippi — and were advised of the storm’s potential deadly effects.”

Seems to me that the only effect to date has been the administration’s gross incompetence to see that an issue of national importance
has not been addressed.

Drew Phillips


Maureen Dowd; ‘Is She (Really) Necessary?’

I mean, what is the matter with this woman? Even if Woody Allen himself sought to design the quintessential, intimacy fearing, man-ambivalent, testosterone-stomping woman himself (huh?), he would do no better than Dowd.

Look, I know that neurotic, narcissistic writers (in the nicest possible senses of those words) produce material that sells a lot of papers, but honestly, there comes a time when sympathy for our fellow “person” demands action. Hence, with her best interests at heart, please pass on a message to her, from me. (I can’t afford “Times Select” or whatever it is called). I’ll try and put it into words that she will understand:

“Look you-awl, go getchyerself some of that darned, fency New York-type therapeee….it’ll do ya the worrrrld of good!”

Dr. Robert Di Nicolantonio
University of Melbourne Medical School
Victoria, Australia

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