Remember Obama saying he wanted to return the Constitution to the people? Well, he--or some of his senior lick-spittles--are apparently having second thoughts about that. Apparently the power is more important than the promise (d'oh!)
Obamanaut DoJ Asst. AG David Kriss (the same guy to whom Sen. Franken handed a brand-new ass to the other day on another 4th Amendment violation) blandly and blithely reveals that a provision in the PATRIOT ACT known as "sneak-and-peak," permittiing warrantless searches, has been used hundreds of times more often in 'drug' cases than in 'terror' cases. At HuffPost today:
In the debate over the (original, 2002) PATRIOT Act, the Bush White House insisted it needed the authority to search people's homes without their permission or knowledge so that terrorists wouldn't be tipped off that they're under investigation.Remember: No President (other than a relatively trivial case by J. Carter) since the reign of Washington has ever conceded back to the people poweres they arrogated to the Executive for emergency use...
Now since that the authority (has been) law, how has the Department of Justice used the new power? To go after drug dealers.
Only three of the 763 "sneak-and-peek" requests in fiscal year 2008 involved terrorism cases, according to a July 2009 report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Sixty-five percent were drug cases.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) quizzed Assistant Attorney General David Kris about the discrepancy at a hearing on the PATRIOT Act Wednesday. One might expect Kris to argue that there is a connection between drug trafficking and terrorism or that the administration is otherwise justified to use the authority by virtue of some other connection to terrorism.
He didn't even try. "This authority here on the sneak-and-peek side, on the criminal side, is not meant for intelligence. It's for criminal cases. So I guess it's not surprising to me that it applies in drug cases," Kris said.
"As I recall it was in something called the USA PATRIOT Act," Feingold quipped, "which was passed in a rush after an attack on 9/11 that had to do with terrorism it didn't have to do with regular, run-of-the-mill criminal cases. Let me tell you why I'm concerned about these numbers: That's not how this was sold to the American people. It was sold as stated on DoJ's website in 2005 as being necessary - quote - to conduct investigations without tipping off terrorists."
Kris responded by saying that some courts had already granted the Justice Department authority to conduct sneak-and-peeks. But Feingold countered that the PATRIOT Act codified and expanded that authority -- all under the guise of the war on terror.
Feingold, the lone vote against the PATRIOT Act when it was first passed, is introducing an amendment to curb its reach. "I'm going to say it's quite extraordinary to grant government agents the statutory authority to secretly break into Americans homes," he said.
President Obama has his own unique, personal way of living down to expectations...