Source: The Seattle Times
By James Gordon Meek, New York Daily News
WASHINGTON: Jan 4, 2007 — President Bush quietly has claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans’ mail without a judge’s warrant.
Bush asserted the new authority Dec. 20 after signing legislation that overhauls some postal regulations. He then issued a “signing statement” that declared his right to open mail under emergency conditions, contrary to existing law and contradicting the bill he had just signed, according to experts who have reviewed it.
A White House spokeswoman disputed claims that the move gives Bush any new powers, saying the Constitution allows such searches.
Still, the move, one year after The New York Times’ disclosure of a secret program that allowed warrantless monitoring of Americans’ phone calls and e-mail, caught Capitol Hill by surprise.