General Hayden, former head of the NSA (known around Washington as No Such Agency) faces tough questions about domestic snooping before being made chief spy guy at the CIA. I think this little exchange was interesting:
REPORTER: ... my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search ...
GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable search and seizure. That's what it says.
REPORTER: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.
GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.
REPORTER: But does it not say probable --
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. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment...in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable."
There you have it. General Hayden, head of the NSA, knows the 4th Amendment like most of us know the Gilligan's Island theme. If he says it doesn't say probable cause, then we can probably take that to the bank, huh? That's not only reasonable, it's reassuring.
Until we read the 4th Amendment.
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.
General Hayden must be reading an advance copy of the new Bill of Rights, you know, the one that doesn't mention probable cause. Or the people. Or rights.