security intelligence is often long range and involves the interrelation of various sources and types of information. The exact targets of such surveillance may be more difficult to identify than in surveillance operations against many types of crime specified in Title III. Often, too, the emphasis of domestic intelligence gathering is on the prevention of unlawful activity or the enhancement of the Government's preparedness for some possible future crisis or emergency. Thus, the focus of domestic surveillance may be less precise than that directed against more conventional types of crime.

Given these potential distinctions between Title III criminal surveillances and those involving the domestic security, Congress may wish to consider protective standards for the latter which differ from those already prescribed for specified crimes in Title III. Different standards may be compatible with the Fourth Amendment if they are reasonable both in relation to the legitimate need of Government for intelligence information and the protected rights of our citiznes. For the warrant application may vary according to the governmental interest to be enforced and the nature of citizen rights deserving protection. As the Court said in Camara v. Municiapl Court, 387 U.S. 523, 534-535 (1967) :

"In cases in which the Fourth Amendment requires that a warrant to search be obtained, 'probable cause' is the standard by which a particular decision to search is tested against the constitutional mandate of reasonableness. In determining whether a particular inspection is reasonable and thus in determining whether there is probable cause to issue a warrant for that inspection—the need for the inspection must be weighed in

terms of these reasonable goals of law enforcement." It may be that Congress, for example, would judge that the application and affidavit showing probable cause need not follow the exact requirements of 8 2518 but should allege other circumstances more appropriate to domestic security cases; that the request for prior court authorization could, in sensitive cases, be made to any member of a specially designated court (e.g., the District Court or Court of Appeals for the Disrict of Columbia); and that the time and reporting requirements need not be so strict as those in $2518.

The above paragraph does not, of course, attempt to guide the congressional judgment but rather to delineate the present scope of our own opinion. We do not attempt to detail the precise standards for domestic security warrants any more than our decision in Katz sought to set the refined requirements for the specified criminal surveillances which now constitute Title III. We do hold, however, that prior judicial approval is required for the type of domestic security surveillance involved in this case and that such approval may be made in accordance with such reasonable standards as the Congress may prescribe.

[ocr errors]

As the surveillance of Plamondon's conversations was unlawful, because conducted without prior judicial approval, the courts below correctly held that Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 168 (1969), is controlling and that it requires disclosure to the accused of his own impermissibly intercepted conversations. As stated in Alderman, “the trial court can and should, where appropriate, place a defendant and his counsel under enforceable orders against unwarranted disclosure of the materials which they may be entitled to inspect.” 394 U.S. 185.21 The judgment of the Court of Appeals is hereby

Affirmed. THE CHIEF JUSTICE concurs in the result. MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST took no part in the consideration or decision of this SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


* We think it unnecessary at this time and on the facts of this case to consider the arguments advanced by the Government for a re-examination of the basis and scope of the Court's decision in Alderman.

[No. 70–153)



JUNE 19, 1972. MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concurring in the judgment.

This case arises out of a two-count indictment charging conspiracy to injure and injury to Government property. Count I charged Robert Plamondon and two codefendants with conspiring with a fourth person to injure Government property with dynamite. Count II charged Plamondon alone with dynamiting and injuring Government property in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The defendants moved to compel the United States to disclose, among other things, any logs and records of electronic surveillance directed at them, at unindicted coconspirators, or at any premises of the defendants or coconspirators. They also moved for a hearing to determine whether any electronic surveillance disclosed had tainted the evidence on which the grand jury indictment was based and which the Government intended to use at trial. They asked for dismissal of the indictment if such taint were determined to exist. Opposing the motion, the United States submitted an affidavit of the Attorney General of the United States disclosing that "[t]he defendant Plamondon had participated in conversations which were overheard by Government agents who were monitoring wiretaps which were being employed to gather intelligence information deemed necessary to protect the Nation from attempts of domestic organizations to attack and subvert the existing structure of the Government,” the wiretaps having been expressly approved by the Attorney General. The records of the intercepted conversations and copies of the memorandum reflecting the Attorney General's approval were submitted under seal and solely for the Court's in camera inspection.1

As characterized by the District Court, the position of the United States was that the electronic monitoring of Plamondon's conversations without judicial warrant was a lawful exercise of the power of the President to safeguard the national security. The District Court granted the motion of defendants, holding that the President had no constitutional power to employ electronic surveil- lance without warrant to gather information about domestic organizations. Absent probable cause and judicial authorization, the challenged wiretap infringed Plamondon's Fourth Amendment rights. The court ordered the Government to disclose to defendants the records of the monitored conversations and directed that a hearing be held to determine the existence of taint either in the indictment or in the evidence to be introduced at trial.

The Government's petition for mandamus to require the District Court to vacate its order was denied by the Court of Appeals. 444 F. 2d 651 (1971). That court held that the Fourth Amendment barred warrantless electronic surveillance of domestic organizations even if at the direction of the President. It agreed with the District Court that because the wiretaps involved were therefore constitutionally inform, the United States must turn over to defendants the records of overheard conversations for the purpose of determining whether the Government's evidence was tainted.

1 The Attorney General's affidavit concluded : “I certify that it would prejudice the national interest to disclose the particular facts concerning these surveillances other than to the court in camera. Accordingly, the sealed exhibit referred to herein is being submitted solely for the court's in camera Inspection and a copy of the sealed exhibit is not being furnished to the defendants. I would request the court, at the conclusion of its hearing on this matter, to place the scaled exhibit in a sealed envelope and return it to the Department of Justice where it will be retained under seal so that it may be submitted to any appellate court that may review this matter." App. 20-21.

I would affirm' the Court of Appeals but on the statutory ground urged by respondent Keith (Brief, p. 115) without reaching or intimating any views with respect to the constitutional issue decided by both the District Court and the Court of Appeals.

Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 82 Stat. 212, 18 U.S.C. $S 2510–2520, forbids under pain of criminal penalties and civil actions for damages any wiretapping or eavesdropping not undertaken in accordance with specified procedures for obtaining judicial warrants authorizing the surveillance. Section 2511(1) establishes a general prohibition against electronic eavesdropping “except as otherwise specifically provided" in the statute. Later sections provide detailed procedures for judicial authorization of official interceptions of oral comunications; when these procedures are followed the interception is not subject to the prohibitions of § 2511(1). Section 2511 (2), however, specifies other situations in which the general prohibitions of $ 2511 (1) do not apply. In addition, § 2511 (3) provides that

"Nothing contained in this chapter or in section 605 of the Communications Act of 1934 (48 Stat. 1103 ; 47 U.S.C. $ 605) shall limit the constitutional power of the President to take such measures as he deems necessary to protect the Nation against actual or potential attack or other hostile acts of a foreign power, to obtain foreign intelligence information deemed essential to the security of the United States, or to protect national security information against foreign intelligence activities. Nor shall anything contained in this chapter be deemd to limit the constitutional power of the President to take such measures as he deems necessary to protect the United States against the overthrow of the Government by force or other unlawful means, or against any other clear and present danger to the structure or existence of the Government. The contents of any wire or oral communication intercepted by authority of the President in the exercise of the foregoing powers may be received in evidence in any trial hearing, or other proceeding only where such interception was reasonable, and shall not be otherwise used or disclosed except as is neces

sary to implement that power.” It is this subsection that lies at the heart of this case.

The interception here was without judicial warrant, it was not covered by the provisions of $ 2511 (2) and it is too clear for argument that it is illegal under $ 2511 (1) unless it is saved by $ 2511(3). The majority asserts that § 2511(3) is a “disclaimer" but not an "exception." But however it is labeled, it is apparent from the face of the section and its legislative history that if this interception is one of those described in § 2511 (3), it is not reached by the statutory ban on unwarranted electronic eavesdropping.?

The defendants in the District Court moved for the production of the logs of 'any electronic surveillance to which they might have been subjected. The Government responded that conversations of Plamondon had been intercepted but took the position that turnover of surveillance records was not necessary because the interception complied with the law. Clearly, for the Government to prevail it was necessary to demonstrate first that the interception involved was not subject to the statutory requirement of judicial approval for wiretapping because the surveillance was within the scope of 2511 (3); and, secondly, if the Act did not forbid the warrantless wiretap, that the surveillance was consistent with the Fourth Amendment.

2 I cannot agree with the majority's analysis of the import of $ 2511(3). Surely, Congress meant at least that if a court determined that in the specified circumstances the President could constitutionally intercept communications without a warrant, the general ban of § 2511(1) would not apply. But the limitation on the applicability of

2511 (1) was not open-ended ; it was confined to those situations which § 2511(3) specifically described. Thus, even assuming the constitutionality of a warrantless surveil. lance authorized by the President to uncover private or official graft forbidden by federal statute, the interception would be illegal under $ 2511(1) because it is not the type of presidential action saved by the Act by the provision of § 2511(3). As stated in the text and footnote 3, the United States does not claim that Congress is powerless to require warrants for surveillances which the President otherwise would not be barred by the Fourth Amendment from undertaking without a warrant.

The United States has made no claim in this case that the statute may not constitutionally be applied to the surveillance at issue here.3 Nor has it denied that to comply with the Act the surveillance must either be supported by a warrant or fall within the bounds of the exceptions provided by $ 2511(3). Nevertheless, as I read the opinions of the District Court and the Court of Appeals, neither court stopped to inquire whether the challenged interception was illegal under the statute but proceeded directly to the constitutional issue without adverting to the time-honored rule that courts should abjure constitutional issues except where necessary to decision of the case before them. Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 297 U.S. 288, 346–347 (1936) (concurring opinion). Because I conclude that on the record before us the surveillance undertaken by the Government in this case was illegal under the statute itself, I find it unnecessary, and therefore improper, to consider or decide the constitutional questions which the courts below improvidently reached.

The threshold statutory question is simply put: Was the electronic surveillance undertaken by the Government in this case a measure deemed necessary by the President to implement either the first or second branch of the exception carved out by § 2511 (3) to the general requirement of a warrant?

The answer, it seems to me, must turn on the affidavit of the Attorney General offered by the United States in opposition to defendants' motion to disclose surveillance records. It is apparent that there is nothing whatsoever in this affidavit suggesting that the surveillance was undertaken within the first branch of the $ 2511 (3) exception, that is, to protect against foreign attack, to gather foreign intelligence or to protect national security information. The sole assertion was that the monitoring at issue was employed to gather intelligence information “deemed necessary to protect the Nation from attempts of domestic organizations to attack and subvert the existing structure of the Govern. ment.” App. 20.

Neither can I conclude from this characterization that the wiretap employed here fell within the exception recognized by the second sentence of $ 2511 (3); for it utterly fails to assume responsibility for the judgment that Congress demanded : that the surveillance was necessary to prevent overthrow by force or other unlawful means or that there was any other clear and present danger to the structure or existence of the Government. The affidavit speaks only of attempts to attack or subyert; it makes no reference to force or unlawfulness; it articulates no conclusion that the attempts involved any clear and present danger to the existence or structure of the Government.

The shortcomings of the affidavit when measured against § 2511 (3) are patent. Indeed, the United States in oral argument conceded no less. The specific inquiry put to Government counsel was: “[D]o you think the affidavit, standing alone, satisfies the Safe Streets Act?” The Assistant Attorney General

3 See the Transcript of Oral Argument in this Court, pp. 13–14 :

"Q. ..I take it from your answer that Congress could forbid the President from doing what you suggest he has the power to do in this case?

“Mr. Mardian Assistant Attorney General] : That issue is not before this Court

"Q. Well, I would--my next question will suggest that it is. Would you say, though, that Congress could forbid the President ?

"Mr. Mardian: I think under the rule announced by this court in Colony Catering that within certain limits the Congress could severely restrict the power of the President in this area.

"Q. Well, let s assume Congress says, then, that the Attorney General, or the President may authorize the Attorney General in specific situations to carry out electronic surveillance if the Attorney General certifies that there is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States ?

"Mr. Mardian; I think that Congress has already provided that, and

"Q. Well, would you say that Congress would have the power to limit surveillances to situations where those conditions were satisfied ?

"Mr. Mardian : Yes, I would-I would concur in that, Your Honor."

A coloquy appearing in the debates on the bill, appearing at Cong. Rec. Vol. 114, Pt. 11, pp. 14,750-14,751, indicates that some Senators considered 2511(3) as merely stating an intention not to interfere with the constitutional powers which the President might otherwise have to engage in warrantless electronic surveillance. But the Department of Justice, it was said, participated in the drafting of $ 2511 (3) and there is no indication in the legislative history that there was any claim or thought that the supposed powers of the President reached beyond those described in the section. In any case, it seem clear that the congressional policy of noninterference was limited to the terms of 2511(3).

answered “No sir, we do not rely upon the affidavit itself ... Tr. of Oral Arg., p. 15.4

Government counsel, however, seek to save their case by reference to the in camera exhibit submitted to the District Court to supplement the Attorney General's affidavit.5 It is said that the exhibit includes the request for wiretap approval submitted to the Attorney General, that the request asserted the need to avert a clear and present danger to the structure and existence of the Government, and that the Attorney General endorsed his approval on the request.6 But I am unconvinced the mere endorsement of the Attorney General on the request for approval submitted to him must be taken as the Attorney General's own opinion that the wiretap was necessary to avert a clear and present danger to the existence or structure of the Government when in an affidavit later filed in court and specifically characterizing the purposes of the interception and at least impliedly the grounds for his prior approval, the Attorney General said only that the tap was undertaken to secure intelligence thought necessary to protect against attempts to attack and subvert the structure of Government. If the Attorney General's approval of the interception is to be given a judicially cognizable meaning different from the meaning he seems to have ascribed to it in his affidavit filed in court, there obviously must be further proceedings in the District Court.

Moreover, I am reluctant myself to proceed in the first instance to examine the in camera material and either sustain or reject the surveillance as a necessary measure to avert the dangers referred to in § 2511 (3). What Congress excepted from the warrant requirement was a surveillance which the President would assume responsibility for deeming an essential measure to protect against clear and present danger. No judge can satisfy this congressional requirement.

Without the necessary threshold determination, the interception is, in my opinion, contrary to the terms of the statute and subject therefore to the prohibition contained in § 2515 against the use of the fruits of the warrantless electronic surveillance as evidence at any trial.?

There remain two additional interrelated reasons for not reaching the constitutional issue. First, even if it were determined that the Attorney General purported to authorize an electronic surveillance for purposes exempt from the general provisions of the Act there would remain the issue whether his discretion was properly authorized. The United States concedes that the act of the Attorney General authorizing a warrantless wiretap is subject to judicial review to some extent, Brief for the United States, pp. 21-23, and it seems improvident to proceed to constitutional questions until it is determined that the Act itself does not bar the interception here in question,

See also Transcript of Oral Argument, p. 17 :

"Q. [I]f all the in camera document contained was what the affidavit contained, it would not comply with the Safe Streets Act?

"Mr. Mardian: I would concur in that, Your Honor."

5 The Government appears to have shifted ground in this respect. In its initial brief to this Court, the Government quoted the Attorney General's affidavit and then said, without qualification. "These are the grounds upon which the Attorney General authorized the surveillance in the present case." Brief for the United States, p. 21. Moreover, counsel for the Government stated at oral argument "that the in camera submission was not intended as a justification for the authorization, but simply [as] a proof of the fact that the authorization had been granted by the Attorney General of the United States, over his own signature." Tr, of Oral Arg., pp. 6–7.

Later at oral argument, however, the Government said: "[T]he affidavit was never intended as the basis for justifying the surveillance in question The justification, and again I suggest that it is only a partial justification, is contained in the in camera exhibit which was submitted to Judge Keith

We do not rely upon the affidavit itself but the in camera exhibit.” Tr. of Oral Arg., at pp. 14–15. An in its reply brief, the Government says flatly :: "These [in camera] documents, and not the affidavit, are the proper basis for determining the ground upon which the Attorney General acted." Reply Brief for the

United States, p. 9. Procedures in practice at the time of the request here in issue apparently resulted in the Attorney General merely countersigning a request which asserted a need for a wiretap. We are told that under present procedures the Attorney General makes an express written finding of clear and present danger to the structure and existence of the Government before he authorizes a tap. Tr. of Oral Arg., pp. 17–18.

? Whenever any wire or oral communication has been intercepted, no part of the contents of such communication and no evidence derived therefore may be received in evidence in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the United States, or a political subdivision thereof if the disclosure of that information would be in violation of this chapter." 18 U.S.C. § 2515.

« ForrigeFortsett »