House Votes to Repeal 'Sneak and Peek' Searches
By a vote of 309-118, the House of Representatives voted today to add a provision repealing Patriot Act secret searches, called "sneak and peaks," to a $37.9 million funding bill.
The move would block the Justice Department from using any funds to take advantage of the section of the act that allows it to secretly search the homes of suspects and only inform them later that a warrant had been issued to do so.
Supporters of the change say that violates both the U.S. Constitution and the long-standing common law "knock and announce" principle -- which states the government cannot enter or search private property without first notifying the owner.
"Not only does this provision allow the seizure of personal and business records without notification, but it also opens the door to nationwide search warrants and allowing the CIA and NSA to operate domestically," said the amendment's sponsor, Idaho Republican Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter.
The provision is Section 213 of the Patriot Act, "Authority for delaying notice of the execution of a warrant."
Section 213 is often referred to as the “sneak and peek” section. It authorizes surreptitious search warrants , seizures upon a showing of “reasonable necessity” and eliminates the requirement of Rule 41, Fed. R. Crim.P. that immediate notification of seized items be provided.
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