Clinton's Use of Warrantless Searches - a Fact - Except for the Reality Challenged Left

Perhaps there can be a debate on warrantless searches if the left wasn't so absent minded to forget that President Bush didn't invent them, but so partisen to say he should be nailed for them.

I've often quoted from this Cato Institute paper which covered what they felt were mutiple constitutional abuses of President Clinton during his two term presidency.

This paper was published in 1997, long before the current debate. Reading it one could imagine if it had been written and released during this year - imagine the outcry!

Clinton's use of warrantless search method is legendary among law enforcement persons. Little wonder that as the paper cites, this led ACLU officials to describe the Clinton White House as "the most wiretap-friendly administration in history."

In fact during the 90's in my capacity in law enforcement I participated on many such "warrantless seraches" which were upheld and cited under guidelines created by the Justice Department under Clinton.

For example in the much publicized Chicago Public Housing Authorty case, the paper says:

"In the spring of 1994 the Chicago Public Housing Authority responded to gang violence by conducting warrantless "sweeps" of entire apartment buildings. Closets, desks, dressers, kitchen cabinets, and personal effects were examined regardless of whether the police had probable cause to suspect particular residents of any wrongdoing. Some apartments were searched when the residents were not home. Although such searches were supported by the Clinton administration, Federal District Judge Wayne Anderson declared the Chicago sweeps unconstitutional. Judge Anderson found the government's claim of "exigent circumstances" to be exaggerated since all of the sweeps occurred days after the gang-related shootings. He also noted that even in emergency situations, housing officials needed probable cause in order to search specific apartments. Unlike many governmental officials who fear demagogic criticism for being "soft on crime," Judge Anderson stood up for the Fourth Amendment rights of the tenants, noting that he had "sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution" and that he would not "use the power of [his] office to override it, amend it or subvert it."

The White House response was swift. President Clinton publicly ordered Attorney General Reno and HUD secretary Henry Cisneros to find a way to circumvent Judge Anderson's ruling. One month later the president announced a "constitutionally effective way" of searching public housing units. The Clinton administration would now ask tenants to sign lease provisions that would give government agents the power to search their homes without warrants.

The Clinton plan was roundly criticized by lawyers and columnists for giving short shrift to the constitutional rights of the tenants. A New York Times editorial observed that the president had "missed the point" of Judge Anderson's ruling. Harvard law professors Charles Ogletree and Abbe Smith rightly condemned the Clinton proposal as an open invitation to the police to "tear up" the homes of poor people."

Of couse the most publicized occurrences of a warrantless search was on traitor Aldrich Ames. Squirm as some of the pundits on the left are doing, this particular case is a fact, and nothing the current Administration has done comes close. Not that I don't agree with the method as Ames was/is a traitor.

But let's not be so intellectually dishonest to pretend that somehow this one case "doesn't count", or that "it''s different". Again, one could imagined if this would have happened during President Bush's tenure. Fact of the matter is that Bush didn't invent the practice of warrantless searches, nor for that matter did Clinton, and there may be room for a valid debate about the practice and the issues surrounding it, if the left would get off it's "Bush stole the 2000 Election" five-year hangover, and talk about the issue halfway intelligently.

But then, I just bought a lotto ticket.

UPDATE: Here'sa story reporting that that the Rendition Program actually began under Clinton. Now why would we expect the the NY Times or Washington Post to have included this in their original reporting?