Tuesday, January 24, 2006


General Hayden: Probable Wha...?

Mon Jan 23, 2006 at 04:34:02 PM PDT

To follow up on georgia10's post below, here is an interesting exchange between reporter Jonathan Landay and General Hayden:

QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use --

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That's what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable --

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.. . .

Wow! General Hayden sure seems pretty sure about what the Fourth Amendment says doesn't he? Thats reassuring, no? In fact Hayden says this:

GEN. HAYDEN . . . Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable."

Phew! And here we were worried that the NSA was trampling Fourth Amendment rights. Thank Gawd NSA employees are familiar with the Fourth Amendment and know it like the back of their hand, right? Uh, maybe not:

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.

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