Patriot Act: Sold as Fighting Terrorists, Act is Used in Marijuana-Smuggling Investigation 8/5/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!


http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/398/patriot2.shtml

A Patriot Act provision sold to the American people as a crucial tool in the "war on terror" was used by federal officials to investigate a marijuana-smuggling operation using a cross-border tunnel between British Columbia and Washington state, the Seattle Times reported. Law enforcement officials obtained a "sneak and peek" warrant, which allowed them to enter and bug the tunnel without informing the suspects that a search warrant had been issued. Traditionally in American jurisprudence, search warrants require that the subject be notified immediately when a search has been conducted.

"Sneak and peek" warrants were especially contentious during debates around passage of the Patriot Act in late 2001. They allow such searches to go unannounced for months after the fact. In its Patriot Act reauthorization bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved language that would greatly restrict their use. The House has already passed its version of the bill without those changes; the Senate will act when it returns after the August recess.

Civil libertarians criticize "sneak and peak" warrants as a fundamental insult to traditional American values. "I think that the power that the government has under the Patriot Act... is clearly contrary to the notion underlying the Fourth Amendment," said former US Rep. Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican who was a fierce drug warrior in Congress but who has otherwise been a staunch defender of the Bill of Rights. He currently heads a Patriot Act reform organization Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances. The "sneak and peak" warrants are "being used in cases that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism," Barr told the Times.

Doug Whalley, an assistant US attorney in Seattle, said the Patriot Act codified already-existing law, making it difficult to challenge the use of sneak-and-peek warrants in court. Rulings before the act were made on a case-by-case basis, Whalley said, and appeals courts could have ruled the warrants were improperly issued.

"The Justice Department decided to create a statutory right across the board to try and create a national right of law enforcement to create secret searches of businesses and homes, secret seizures of evidence," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy for the American Civil Liberties Union. The warrants are an attempt to give law enforcement blanket ability to conduct such searches without being held accountable, she told the Times.

In the case of the tunnel, federal officials said they were concerned not only about marijuana-smuggling but also the possibility it could be used to smuggle terrorists or weapons. But that didn't wash with Seattle defense attorney Bob Mahler. "The tunnel has nothing to do with the war on terrorism... There's absolutely no reason why the authorities couldn't have availed themselves of the normal ways possible," Mahler told the Times. "They just didn't feel the need to use the normal, constitutionally mandated processes because they had this new tool that was given to them."

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail drcnet@drcnet.org. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #398 -- 8/5/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

Feature: Marc Emery Busted -- Canada's Leading Marijuana Activist Facing Life in American Prison Over Seed Sales | Feature: The Methamphetamine Epidemic -- Less Than Meets the Eye | Feature: Prison Protest Aiming for DC in Eight Days | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Patriot Act: House Reauthorization Includes New "Narcoterrorism" Offense | Patriot Act: Sold as Fighting Terrorists, Act is Used in Marijuana-Smuggling Investigation | Search and Seizure: New Jersey Police Looking for Marijuana Growers Must Have Warrant to See Utility Records, Appeals Court Holds | Treatment: Congress Lifts 30-Patient Limit for Buprenorphine Treatment | Marijuana: Denver SAFER Initiative Headed for November Ballot | New Zealand: Parliament Reclassifies Speed and Ecstasy, Stiffer Penalties Coming | Treatment: New Web Site Provides Resources on Opiate Agonist Therapy | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunity: Prevention Point Pittsburgh | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 drcnet@drcnet.org