Bush Okayed Warrantless Searches – Oregon Lawyer Says His Office Was Illegally Searched

NSA Is Being Sued for Alleged Illegal Surveillance

US News says President Bush’s authorization of warrantless domestic spying went beyond wiretapping to include physical searches of businesses and residences inside the United States — an apparent violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches and seizures by the government.

Call me suspicious, but knowing the high fivin’ frat boys at the White House, it’s hard to imagine they haven’t used this powerful tool to gather intelligence on their political enemies as well.

The decision to authorize so-called “black bag jobs” was made by President Bush’s lawyers in the months after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks — at the same time the president authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to wiretap phones of American citizens without obtaining warrants.

An attorney in Oregon told the magazine that he believes someone, probably the FBI, has conducted multiple warrantless searches of his law offices and possibly his home:

At least one defense attorney representing a subject of a terrorism investigation believes he was the target of warrantless clandestine searches. On Sept. 23, 2005–nearly three months before the Times broke the NSA story–Thomas Nelson wrote to U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut in Oregon that in the previous nine months, “I and others have seen strong indications that my office and my home have been the target of clandestine searches.” In an interview, Nelson said he believes that the searches resulted from the fact that FBI agents accidentally gave his client classified documents and were trying to retrieve them…. Nelson’s wife and son, meanwhile, repeatedly called their home security company asking why their alarm system seemed to keep malfunctioning. The company could find no fault with the system.

Nelson said the classified documents appear to show that his client was the subject of warrantless eavesdropping by the NSA. He filed a lawsuit against the NSA on March 2 in Portland:

[The suit alleges that] the NSA illegally wiretapped electronic communications between the chapter and Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, both attorneys in Washington, D.C.

The complaint, which also names President Bush as a defendant, seeks “an order that would require defendants and their agents to halt an illegal and unconstitutional program of electronic surveillance of United States citizens and entities.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the two Washington attorneys and the Al-Haramain chapter by three Portland civil rights lawyers: Steven Goldberg, Zaha Hassan and Thomas Nelson.

“This case will show how the illegal program was implemented and used to the injury of United States citizens and charities,” Nelson said.

Two unidentified officials told US News that lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department approached the FBI about conducting the physical searches, but that top officials at the Bureau appeared to have been worried the scheme:

“There was a fair amount of discussion at Justice on the warrantless physical search issue,” says a former senior FBI official. “Discussions about–if [the searches] happened–where would the information go, and would it taint cases.”

The FBI had good cause to be worried. It has been down this road before:

For the FBI, the very mention of the term “black-bag jobs” prompts a bad case of the heebie-jeebies. In 1975 and 1976, an investigative committee led by then Sen. Frank Church documented how the FBI engaged in broad surveillance of private citizens and members of antiwar and civil rights groups, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. The committee’s hearings and the executive-branch abuses that were documented in the Watergate investigation led to numerous reforms, including passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] in 1978.

Whether the searches were conducted by the FBI or the NSA, if this story bears up, you can bet that there were many illegal searches, maybe hundreds — and they could be continuing today. And call me suspicious, but knowing the high fivin’ frat boys at the White House, it’s hard to imagine they haven’t used this powerful tool to gather intelligence on their political enemies as well.

12 Comments

  • heartline1500@earthlink.net
    March 19, 2006 - 1:56 pm | Permalink

    That’s the catch, not terrorists as much as political opponents….

  • Karl Rove = J Edgar Hoover
    March 19, 2006 - 2:32 pm | Permalink

    J Edgar Hoover held the most powerful position in US law enforcement for over 50 years (or near enough, I believe), in part because he keep everyone under survellience and threatened them with blackmail them with the secrets he had on them. This is inspite of him being a notorious cross-dressing gay man in the 1930-60s!!

    Karl Rove is a notorious political henchman who is surrounded by gay men, but nothing ever comes out to discredit him. Heard anything lately about Jeff Gannon and gay male prostitutes in the White House? See where I’m going with this?

    Yes, of course Bu$hCo has used domestic spying against their political enemies — how else do you account for the media being so completely cowed.

  • jaybird
    March 19, 2006 - 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Are we really suprised? I can’t wait until this group is gone and the books that would be censored today are published.

  • March 19, 2006 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t we just give Iraq our Constitution? We don’t seem to be using it at the moment.

  • March 19, 2006 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    What makes this especially egregious is that the attorney/client priviledge is so established in our history. To break into anyone’s home or office is awful, but to do it to try to violate the trust between a lawyer and a client is really, really awful.

  • Ricardo
    March 19, 2006 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I would like to start the century over again. Erase everything that happened in this nighmare called Bush.

  • March 19, 2006 - 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Now can we compare the criminal Bush/Cheney administration to 1930’s Germany?

  • peter ring
    March 20, 2006 - 7:03 am | Permalink

    IMPEACH and IMPRISON the never- elected war criminals!

  • March 20, 2006 - 7:37 am | Permalink

    I have maintained in articles and comments for a long while that Congress isn’t voting the will of the people, and were voting in direct conflict of their constituents will – and none of it made sense unless the Bush administration was basically blackmailing members of our legislature and government.

    I hate to say it – but maybe America should issue a blanket statement to our Congress that anything Bush obtained illegally, we as Americans will recognize it as the “fruit of the poisonous tree” and will legally ignore what was gained illegally. We won’t listen as the Neo-cons let slip embarrassing, horrible things about prominent people’s lives – because we don’t trust this administration, and they could be lying anyway. We need to tell our Congress to remain unafraid and stand-up to tyranny, impeach the President, and America will pay no attention to the dirt the White House will dump on the Legislature in retaliation

    America deserves better than this – as this is not only a high crime against America – but an offense that demands impeachment and appropriate criminal prosecution.

  • Diane Lewis
    March 20, 2006 - 10:20 am | Permalink

    This explains a lot of what has been going on. Gonzales really parsed the truth when he responded to the questions about further actions beyond wiretaps during his UNSWORN Congressional testimony. Now we know why the Republican members voted in lockstep to let him testify unsworn. Suborning the attorney/client privilege to this extent really does throw out the gov’t’s case against the prosecuted. Or it should…I am so tired of the lies and lawlessness.

  • Bob Saxton
    May 21, 2006 - 12:59 am | Permalink

    Will the Bushies make the 2000s the goofiest decade in human history? Only their chimp tribe knows for sure.

  • dee
    January 20, 2007 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    OMG. BIG BRO IS HERE> TRUST NOONE NOT THE SUPERVISOR DOCTOR COUSIN NOBODY NOT EVEN YOUR MOTHER CAN U BELIEVE THIS> IT S PROBABLY HAPPENING TO U AN U DON T NO

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