Patriot Act's "Sneak and Peek" Warrants Used in Domestic Cockfighting Case

Via Instapundit, a case of the federal government using "sneak and peek" search warrants in a Tennessee cockfighting case with no connection to terrorism.

The Patriot Act expanded the government's ability to use sneak and peek (delayed notice) warrants.

“This is one of the few provisions of the Patriot Act that was sneaked into the Patriot Act in the middle of the night so that no one knew it was there,” said Michelle Richardson, a legislative consultant for the ACLU’s Washington, D.C., Legislative Office. “It was passed without everyone knowing about it.”

Prior to the Patriot Act, she said, federal courts had held that agents could conduct secret searches and defer notifying the targets for short periods of time in very limited circumstances, such as when someone’s life might be in danger.


“But this broadens it to include (the risk of) interference with an investigation, and this creates a sort of catch-all for law enforcement when it’s inconvenient for them to follow the rules,” she said.

She also said federal authorities aren’t required to release information on how many of the searches are done each year, although in 2005 the government confirmed that only 12 percent of them were related to terrorism.

“The rest are mostly drug cases,” she said. “They don’t even purport that this is a terrorism tool.”

Glenn reminds us of when Congress put the Anti-Meth bill into the Patriot Act, which he and I railed against many times. As I said then:

We need to be vigilant about keeping terror laws and drug laws separate, except in such instances where the two clearly are linked. We already have laws that penalize terrorism and laws that penalize illicit drug activity. There is no need to combine them.

Same goes for cockfighting laws.

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  • Display: Sort:
    all a ruse (none / 0) (#1)
    by Sumner on Tue Aug 14, 2007 at 01:11:06 PM EST
    As one legal scholar puts it, "there is no constitutional principle that says that the President of the United States or the Executive Branch must tell the truth." -- Joseph W. Caddell, DECEPTION 101 - PRIMER ON DECEPTION

    from a web page I recently posted a link to:

    "We're empathetic to the ill and to the sick, however we cannot disregard federal law.

    We have the power to enforce federal drug laws even in areas where it might not be popular." -- US DEA Agent JAVIER PENA, on why to expect many more medical marijuana arrests

    "We would never abuse [absolute power] provisions of the Patriot Act."
    -- US Department of Justice

    Not really a sneak. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Aug 14, 2007 at 04:10:56 PM EST
    Secret searches were one of the more widely debated PATRIOT provisions in the 2 weeks of debate before passage.

    The Clinton justice department had tried to get Sneak and Peak in the 2000 Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, passed unanimously in the Senate, but stripped in House Judiciary at the initiative of Representatives Tammy Baldwin and Bob Barr.

    Why can't we exclude all "evidence" (none / 0) (#3)
    by lilybart on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 02:29:55 PM EST
    gotten from illegal searches of all kinds, while doing searches for terror related people?

    I would feel much better about all this terror snooping IF anything uncovered on any American, is excluded and not allowed in a court. unless it is directly related to terrorism.

    I am not a lawyer, so could someone tell me why this would not work?