By now, you probably know that George W. Bush, president of the United States of America, signed a new postal reform bill into law on December 20. Then, Junior added one of his infamous signing statements. This one allows him to open people's mail under emergency conditions. "People" would be citizens of the United States. "Open mail" means spying on citizens via intercepting U.S. mail.
The postal bill was written in part to reinforce protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval.
"The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.
"The danger is they're reading Americans' mail," she said.
"You have to be concerned," agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush's claim. "It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we've ever known."
It's certainly no surprise that Bush's latest sleight-of-hand came during Congress' winter recess. It's one of his favorite times for plucking and bagging civil liberties. Which makes it all the more suspect.
White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore denied Bush was claiming any new authority.
"In certain circumstances - such as with the proverbial 'ticking bomb' - the Constitution does not require warrants for reasonable searches," she said.
Bush, however, cited "exigent circumstances" which could refer to an imminent danger or a longstanding state of emergency.
Critics point out the administration could quickly get a warrant from a criminal court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to search targeted mail, and the Postal Service could block delivery in the meantime.
"Exigent circumstances?" Do you believe for one single, solitary moment that Junior crafted that phrase?
"Reasonable searches." That's an increasingly fuzzy concept under this administration. What constitutes "reasonable," and who decides? Whatever happened to our nation of laws, of checks and balances?
There's a bumper sticker out and about that says something like, "If you're not furious, you're not paying attention." We finally have people in Congress who will listen.
Here's a suggested New Year's Resolution, a few days late. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is time to speak truth to abuse of power. Frequently, loudly and targeted to people who can do something about this.
For a very long time, I rode the bandwagon of folks who said impeachment would be divisive, counter-productive, damaging. Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder about the wisdom of that perspective.
I don't know much about grounds for impeachment. Blue dress, mass murders. Oral sex, civil liberties violations. Hmmmm. Apparently I need to study up on this. But this much I do know. For six years, George W. Bush has screwed Americans en masse. Crude but apt.
Righteous indignation doesn't cut it, folks. I believe it's time to move beyond slapping Junior's patrician hand. It's time to consider impeachment.