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

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  1. icon
    rooben (profile), 8 Sep 2011 @ 12:40pm


    of course, so do charities, right so we should allow warrantless wiretapping of charities, cause, you know - some of them siphon money to terrorists.

    Hey, goes what? I heard that parents sometimes give birth to kids that grow up to be terrorists. So - having parents fuels terrorism. Lets go after all families, too.

    If the investigation is drugs, they are using it for drugs, not terrorism. Because some drug dealers fund terrorists, does not mean DEA are focused on battling terrorists. They are looking for drug dealers, because that in itself is a crime.

    Tying it to terrorism is just another way to weasel more rights away from you. Last I checked, drug dealers can be American citizens, and have access to the same constitutional rights as you do. I know this statement is way overused by people that don't know the difference...but this is ACTUALLY anti-constitutional. Have a right to due process. If the agency is using sneak-and-peak, that means they don't have any evidence, or enough evidence to call it probable cause...its a way to get evidence enough to obtain an actual, constitutional warrant.

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