Warrantless Physical Searches

U.S. News & World Report has a story that you just knew was coming.

President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to begin conducting electronic eavesdropping on terrorism suspects in the United States, including American citizens, without court approval. Meeting in the FBI's state-of-the-art command center in the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the lawyers talked with senior FBI officials about using the same legal authority to conduct physical searches of homes and businesses of terrorism suspects--also without court approval..
Even the FBI wasn't too keen to go down that road. FBI Director Robert Mueller was "alarmed" that the FBI would, for the first time conducted "physical searches of any location without consent or a judicial order."
Amendment IV - Ratified 12/15/1791.

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.
Seems pretty clear to me, but I'm not Alberto Gonzales.
But in a little-noticed white paper submitted by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Congress on January 19 justifying the legality of the NSA eavesdropping, Justice Department lawyers made a tacit case that President Bush also has the inherent authority to order such physical searches. In order to fulfill his duties as commander in chief, the 42-page white paper says, "a consistent understanding has developed that the president has inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches and surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes."
If warrantless eavesdropping created a fuss, I expect warrantless searches of people's homes to cause a furor. Any real conservative will see this power grab for what it is, an extra-constitutional attempt by the Executive Branch to strip rights away from American Citizens.

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