AP reported Aug. 2 that federal investigators used provisions of the USA Patriot Act to search and bug a 360-foot tunnel under the US-Canadian border, and eavesdrop as hundreds of pounds of British Columbia-grown marijuana was brought through it. Agents installed surveillance equipment after obtaining a so-called “sneak-and-peek” warrant, which allows searches without immediately notifying the target.
Regular search warrants require immediate notification. Notice is left at the scene, with details about any removal of items. With a “sneak-and-peek” or delayed-notice warrant, agents can arrange delay of notification with a judge.
As Congress debates renewal of the Patriot Act, we sure wish the media would make more of the fact that it is being used to protect us from hydroponic pot, not terrorism. “I think that the power that the government has under the Patriot Act…is clearly contrary to the notion underlying the Fourth Amendment,” former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr told AP. The secret warrants are “being used in cases that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” The Georgia Republican now leads an organization called Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances.
The section of the Patriot Act containing the sneak-and-peek provisions is not up for reauthorization this year, but rights advocates hope it will be amended anyway.
See our last post on the Patriot Act.