Friday, August 05, 2005

The Patriot Act in Action!

If you want proof that the Patriot Act isn't about terrorism, but about broader police powers, read this article. Police, using the Patriot Act, you know, the one that is supposed to protect us from terrorists, have arrested drug smugglers in Washington state. They used a "sneak and peak" warrant to gather evidence.

Under a sneak-and-peek warrant, also known as a delayed-notice search warrant, a judge authorizes police to search a suspect's property without leaving any trace they were there. Whalley said investigators arrange the timeline of the delay with a judge and most often notify suspects within 30 days. Doug Whalley, an assistant U.S. 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. But Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that under these warrants, police routinely don't tell suspects they have searched their homes until months later. Graves also said the new Patriot Act provisions have been an attempt to give law enforcement a blanket ability to conduct secret searches without being held accountable. "The Justice Department decided to create a statutory right across the board," Graves said, "to try and create a national right of law enforcement to create secret searches of businesses and homes, secret seizures of evidence."

One critic complained that the poice used the Patriot Act because it was easier than following standard procedure.

"Your papers. Vhere are your papers!?" Guess we better get used to hearing that.


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