February 11, 2006


Carter allowed surveillance in 1977 (Charles Hurt, 2/11/06, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Former President Jimmy Carter, who publicly rebuked President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program this week during the funeral of Coretta Scott King and at a campaign event, used similar surveillance against suspected spies. [...]

[I]n 1977, Mr. Carter and his attorney general, Griffin B. Bell, authorized warrantless electronic surveillance used in the conviction of two men for spying on behalf of Vietnam.

The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.

In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons."

What's most revealing is that Mr. Carter thought it appropriate and constitutional to try signing away that inherent authority.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2006 9:45 AM

What's most astonishing is that he didn't give them medals for their service to humanity.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 11, 2006 10:19 AM

So, the next question for Jimmy is this: "Will you be responding to the Truong/Humphrey civil rights suit?"

Posted by: ratbert at February 11, 2006 10:25 AM

Carter really is the gift that keeps on giving for Republicans.

Posted by: John at February 11, 2006 10:52 AM

Wasn't that authorisation provided before FISA came into effect?

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at February 11, 2006 12:39 PM

"Mr. Carter thought it appropriate and constitutional to try signing away that inherent authority"

Carter thought. No. There is no evidence that he thought.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 11, 2006 1:12 PM

Ali Choudhury:

If Carter was correct back in the 70s that he had Constitutional authority to do this, the establishment of FISA wouldn't change that, would it? I don't think Congress can just walk in and invade the president's turf like that, law or no law.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 11, 2006 2:33 PM


It doesn't matter if it was authorized before FISA; if it was Constitutional before FISA, it was Constitutional afterwards, as stautes cannot trump the Constitution.

Even Jimmy Carter doesn't know what Jimmy Carter was thinking, liberal logic being unlike any other. The relentless progress of Advanced Busheimer's Disease is a terrible thing to watch.

Posted by: Noel at February 11, 2006 3:02 PM
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