Those of us involved in drug policy knew this all along. I talked about it back in 2003 just after I started blogging.
I, and others in the drug policy reform movement, noted that the government has used the drug war as an excuse to increase police powers beyond what would otherwise have been considered Constitutionally acceptable.
After 911, the government capitalized on that event to claim that it needed to expand its power even further to go after terrorists (explaining that it was just a logical next step from what they already had available to go after drug traffickers, so we shouldn’t worry our frightened little heads over it).
We knew that these powers would be turned right back on our own citizens to ratchet up the war on drugs in a continuing attempted cycle of increased police powers.
That’s why this report by Ryan Grim of today’s hearings on the PATRIOT Act, conducted by Senator Russ Feingold, come as little surprise.
In the debate over the 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.
Now that the authority is 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.
If you’ve got time, this is just under 5 minutes and worth watching. Feingold does an excellent job. And the DOJ official simply admits that the PATRIOT Act provisions are being used primarily for the drug war.
Update: Al Franken reads the 4th Amendment to Justice Department Official. Good for him.