Nuclear Surveillance

In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned. In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts.

From US News and World Report, “Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search Warrants,” via Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy. In his major post on “The Security Threat of Unchecked Presidential Power,” Bruce Schneier comments:

This is novel reasoning. It’s as if the police would have greater powers when investigating a murder than a burglary.

[Update: The article also states,

Officials also reject any notion that the program specifically has targeted Muslims. “We categorically do not target places of worship or entities solely based on ethnicity or religious affiliation,” says one. “Our investigations are intelligence driven and based on a criminal predicate.”

If that’s the case, why can’t they get warrants?