Congress Quietly Debates Merits of Warrantless `Spy' Searches Post-Cold-War `Black-Bag' Break-Ins Remain Highly Controversial

By John Dillin, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, August 31, 1994 | Go to article overview

Congress Quietly Debates Merits of Warrantless `Spy' Searches Post-Cold-War `Black-Bag' Break-Ins Remain Highly Controversial


John Dillin, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


CITING national security concerns, federal agents have continued a cold war policy of secretly searching the homes and offices of American citizens suspected of aiding foreign powers.

These "black-bag jobs," conducted without court orders, have gotten the go-ahead from President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno, just as they did from two previous presidents.

Key members of Congress, who worry that White House policy violates the Constitution, are now engaged in a quiet debate over ways to safeguard civil liberties without undercutting the government's counter-intelligence agencies.

A Senate-passed intelligence bill (S. 2056) would require that the White House get permission from a special federal court before conducting break-ins at the homes of United States citizens or at foreign embassies in Washington, D.C.

Unlike their predecessors, Mr. Clinton and Ms. Reno have encouraged Congress to clear up legal uncertainties over black-bag jobs.

The issue recently gained new urgency with the case of CIA official Aldrich Ames, a Soviet spy. Mr. Ames' home in Arlington, Virginia, was the target of two secret federal searches in June and October, 1993.

However, if the case had come to trial, Ames's attorney threatened to use the government's warrantless break-ins to attack the case against his client.

The Fourth Amendment assures "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures...." It guarantees that warrants will not be issued unless there is "probable cause" and that the warrant must describe the "persons or things to be seized."

None of these safeguards were carried out in the Ames case. According to a source on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Reno was deeply concerned about a potential constitutional challenge by Ames.

She was reported to have said, essentially: That's it. We're not going to do any more of this.

The Senate bill, however, is itself a subject of controversy on Capitol Hill. The House, where some members say S. 2056 contains inadequate safeguards, has so far refused to go along. The issue will be the subject of a House-Senate conference in late September.

The Senate bill would require that government get approval from the little-known Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court prior to a secret physical search of homes, offices, and embassies.

The FISA court, named after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, consists of seven federal district judges appointed by the chief justice of the US. The judges serve for a maximum of seven years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Congress Quietly Debates Merits of Warrantless `Spy' Searches Post-Cold-War `Black-Bag' Break-Ins Remain Highly Controversial
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.