PATRIOT Act "Sneak and Peek" Searches Targeted Drug Offenders, Not Terrorists

The Bush administration sold the PATRIOT Act's expansion of law enforcement powers, including "sneak and peek" searches in which the target of the search is never notified that his home has been searched, as necessary to defend the citizens of the US from terrorist attacks, but that's not how federal law enforcement has used its sweeping new powers. According to a July report from the Administrative Office of the US Courts (thanks to Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post), of 763 sneak and peek search warrants issued last year, only three were issued in relation to alleged terrorist offenses, or less than one-half of 1% of all such black-bag clandestine searches. Nearly two-thirds (62%) were issued to investigate drug trafficking offenses. The report also includes figures on existing warrants that were extended last year. When new and extended warrant figures are combined, the total number of warrants was 1,291, with 843, or 65%, for drug investigations. Only five of all new or extended sneak and peek warrants were for terrorism investigations. Of 21 criminal offense categories for which warrants were issued or extended, terrorism ranked 19th, exceeding only conspiracy and bribery. As Grim noted, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), a leading critic of the PATRIOT Act, challenged Assistant Attorney General David Kris about why powers supposedly needed to fight terrorism were instead being used for common criminal cases. "This authority here on the sneak-and-peek side, on the criminal side, is not meant for intelligence," said Kris. "It's for criminal cases. So I guess it's not surprising to me that it applies in drug cases. "As I recall it was in something called the USA PATRIOT Act," Feingold retorted, "which was passed in a rush after an attack on 9/11 that had to do with terrorism it didn't have to do with regular, run-of-the-mill criminal cases. Let me tell you why I'm concerned about these numbers: That's not how this was sold to the American people. It was sold as stated on DoJ's website in 2005 as being necessary - quote - to conduct investigations without tipping off terrorists," he said. "I think it's quite extraordinary to grant government agents the statutory authority to secretly breaks into Americans' homes in criminal cases, and I think some Americans might be concerned it's been used hundreds of times in just a single year in non-terrorism cases," the Wisconsin progressive continued. "That's why I'm proposing additional safeguards to make sure that this authority is available where necessary, but not in virtually every criminal case."
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nice little scam they pulled off

This is the kind of law that sets off alarm bells (not paranoia) about 1984 big brother style government, all the more so because of the gap between how the law was supposedly going to be used and how it is being used, in the war against users of selected drugs instead of against terrorists seeking to kill us.
More good work by Ryan Grim and Senator Feingold.

Patriot Act vs. The People

At a congressional hearing, former AG John Ashcroft was told point-blank that the USA PATRIOT Act was to be used for terrorist detections and prosecutions exclusively, thereby creating a wall of separation between the war on terror and common criminal cases.  United States citizens were promised the legal safeguards they had always been entitled to under the Fourth Amendment.  The government lied.  So what else is new?

Former Drug Czar John P. Walters couldn’t wait to redefine drug users as terrorists after 9/11.  When that didn’t work, the prohibs shanghaied the terrorist statutes anyway—surreptitiously, of course.  Welcome to Total Information Awareness.

It’s no surprise that drug enforcement in this instance is the primary recipient of the U.S. terror-scare benefit program.  Drug enforcement has few if any people voluntarily coming forward to claim they are victims of someone other than themselves for their own personal choices concerning drug use.  With no accusers, drug enforcement relies primarily upon informants, coercion, and entrapment.  Drug prosecutors make extraordinary threats against informants to get them to testify in drug trials.  Many informants are paid to testify.

The right to privacy, a cherished freedom backed by the Fourth Amendment, fought for and won during the Revolutionary War, is the common enemy of the prohibs, subject to attack at every opportunity.  Those exercising First Amendment activities that cause prohibs grief also come under attack, as we’ve seen in the Marc Emery case and also the federal attack made against writer Peter McWilliams.

Terrorist attacks can be endured and recovery from their effects is but the work of time.  Far more lasting and insidious is an ongoing effort to undermine the Constitution and Bill of Rights under the pretense of good will.  Neutralizing terrorists can do little to protect us from our protectors.  To do that, the drug war must end.

Giordano

Rights/privilges/patriotism?

They did'nt say "alienable privileges" did they?. They said "INALIENABLE RIGHTS". I am repelled by the sooo-called "Patriot Act" because it implies that one is not 'patriotic' if one is oppossed to the horrid thing. Hey Feingold, why not change it's name and re-right the whole thing? Better yet, why not just let the whole thing elapse?

UPDATE: Feingold Introduces Senate Bill 1686 - JUSTICE Act

Senator Russ Feingold, et al., has introduced a Senate bill (S. 1686) called the JUSTICE Act to amend and reform the surveillance authority of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

The JUSTICE Act is intended to protect the privacy of records, communications, homes and businesses; to secure First Amendment rights, and to hold corporations accountable for conspiring with the government to break the law.

?!?!

So...Sen. Feinstein feels we need another law to secure our rights granted under the US constitution? As with most laws, the problem is not that we need new ones, what we need is to enforce the ones already in place.

Actually . . .

What is needed is to declare ALL unConstitutional laws null and void, that would get rid of a a whole lot of laws.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

It's Feingold, not Feinstein

Feinstein is a rightwing, business subsidizing type Democrat Senator from California, very anti-cannabis and pro-drug war (demagogically so) and disinterested in the idea of limited gov't, or of individual rights except for the people she approves of. A hardcore alcohol supremacist bigot.

Reply to comment | StoptheDrugWar.org

Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i read this article i thought i could also make comment due to this sensible post.

What are they going to do if

What are they going to do if you have a dog(s)?
Rather than shoot dogs when they sneak and peak like law enforcement has done many times on normal search warrants,
I wonder if they tranquilize them so you don't know they weren't there. Lol.

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