Wash. Times Pushes Surveillance Myths As “News”

The Washington Times has an article titled “’Warrantless’ searches not unprecedented.” It demonstrates a startling degree of ignorance about the issue.

The opening sentence reads “Previous administrations, as well as the court that oversees national security cases, agreed with President Bush’s position that a president legally may authorize searches without warrants in pursuit of foreign intelligence.” That isn’t even the issue. The issue is whether the President can authorize electronic surveillance of U.S. persons without warrants. (No one disputes that it can do so abroad. That’s what it means to have an intelligence operation.)


It only gets worse from there. The article, written by Charles Hurt, claims that Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick testimony in 1994 supports administration’s legal position. But as I’ve explained in detail, Gorelick’s testimony was about the President’s authority to conduct physical searches, which weren’t covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act at the time of her testimony. The act was amended in 1995 to cover physical searches. Before and after the amendment, the Clinton administration complied with the law.

Hurt also steals a trick from the National Review’s Byron York and takes a sentence from a 2002 FISA court opinion out of context. (I explain how here.)

The article concludes with a long, and completely irrelevant, history of previous administration’s use of warrantless physical searches — all of which occur before the 1995 made warrantless physical searches illegal.

This is about following the law. Why is that so difficult to understand?