Would You Believe "Possible Cause?"


Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, America's foremost Kurtwood Smith lookalike and President Bush's probable choice to replace Porter Goss as Director of Central Intelligence, gives a less-than-strict constructionist reading of his all-time favorite amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

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…

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.

Video clip, courtesy of reader Les Milton, here.

The Fightin' Fourth, once again, reads as follows:

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.

En Español:

El derecho de los habitantes de que sus personas, domicilios, papeles y efectos se hallen a salvo de pesquisas y aprehensiones arbitrarias, será inviolable, y no se expedirán al efecto mandamientos que no se apoyen en un motivo verosimil, estén corroborados mediante juramento o protesta y describan con particularidad el lugar que deba ser registrado y las personas o cosas que han de ser detenidas o embargadas.