Wasn't The PATRIOT Act Supposed To Be About Stopping Terrorism?

from the oh-look dept

The PATRIOT Act was all about stopping terrorism, right? We were told that special provisions that ate away at our civil liberties were needed specifically to catch dangerous terrorists -- and that the reason for such an abdication of our rights had nothing to do with simply giving the government more useful surveillance powers. Aaron DeOliveira points us to a fascinating chart that shows how often law enforcement has been using "sneak-and-peek" warrants. These warrants let officials search private property without letting the target of the investigation know. Again, we were told that these expanded powers were needed to stop terrorism. So what have they been used for? Take a look:
Yup. They're all pretty much being used in drug cases. Now some might make the argument that it's important to go after drug dealers -- but that's not how the PATRIOT Act was supposed to be used.

Filed Under: drugs, law enforcement, patriot act, sneak and peek, terrorism


Reader Comments

The First Word

What you see is what you get Provision

I believe there should be a WYSIWYG provision in every law like the PATRIOT act that basically goes like this:

1. Law is created that gives the police insane powers for catching leprechauns

2. Time passes (2 years as a suggestion)

3. Mandatory dialog between Police and fellow citizens:

Publicly appointed person:

Excuse me Mr. Police Officer, how's that law working out and how many leprechauns did you catch?

Police type person:
OMG it's sooooo great! I was able to catch 1,300 smurfs!!!

Publicly appointed person:
Oh, I see; that law is now null and void. If you want to catch smurfs *AND* leprechauns, you're going to have to write the law that way. This one is done, go back and try again.

Another idea would be to have the law with a mandatory sunset. For example after 5 years, if you've not caught all the terrorists with these new powers, then they aren't working the way you thought they would. Give us back our rights.

Of course Law Enforcement would want to extend these powers, and I believe the law should let them. However it should function like this:

1. 5 years is up and the Law Enforcement folks come to renew the law

2. We happily allow this but we automatically cut the time in half before the sunset occurs again.

In addition to this, the Law Enforcement folks who benefit from this law (which is all of them) lose 10% of their budget which is then to be used for social welfare. That or a really big block party. Either one.


/shrug. It could work
—Motheius

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  1. identicon
    Dr.Frost, 10 Sep 2011 @ 2:00pm

    My friend did 3 1/2 years in federal prison under the patriot act for using a cell phone to commit a felony. He was a medical marijuana care provider who had been raided by the DEA several times. He never had enough plants for them to do anything serious to him and eventually they took him in for giving someone grow tips over the phone. They threatened him with 10 or more years for various organized crime and conspiracy charges and his lawyer got them to drop it down to just the cell phone charge. He did 3 1/2 years for telling someone how to grow a plant over the phone. When are we going to make them give us back the constitution that so many people have fought for. Ben Franklin said "those who would trade their freedom for security deserve neither."

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