PATRIOT Drug War Act – what we’ve been telling you all along

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.

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14 Responses to PATRIOT Drug War Act – what we’ve been telling you all along

  1. Osborne Perry Anderson says:

    Thank you Mr. Feingold! Fascinating, and clearly criminal these ‘sneak & peaks’! This is what happens when we allow our lawmakers to act ‘expediently’… instead of legally. This is what checks & balances is supposed to look like before & after they make laws. How refreshing… despite the fact that accountability is rarely pursued. Slightly off topic but did you know the Yolanda Madden case is heating up again. Apparently her father is meeting with the some feds in the judiciary on Oct. 1st and some kinda of ‘evidentiary review’ is scheduled in Texas for Nov? I think dirty kops & hopefully a complicit judge are going to prison soon because drugs were planted and tons of perjury resulted? Don’t know about the DA but couldn’t imagine they not being in on it either? Keep the ball rollling and maybe we can make a snowball!

  2. paul says:

    It is the natural order of things for the government to gain ground, and for liberty to lose ground. Government power ratchets up with every crisis, and never really returns to normal after the crisis passes.

    A lot of this is just the natural gravitation of power to a center mass, but much is also conscious and deliberate efforts to erode liberty. Some people in government plot and plan ways to invigorate police power, watch and track people in their daily lives, increase legal fines and penalties, and in all ways tighten the grip of the State.

    A good example is the push for a national I.D. card in the U.K. Documents have circulated the internet for years showing bureaucrats planning how best to get the cards issued and get people to accept them with a minimum of complaint. These government employees are not simple civil servants carrying out the law in a neutral manner. They are pushing a specific agenda designed to enhance the power of their institutions and positions.

    That some people in government do their level best to destroy freedom is plain to see, but what always gets me is WHY? Why do this? What is the motivation to jail, control, and punish?

    I believe it was Kaptinemo who earlier pointed out Heinlein’s quip that there are people who want to control others, and people who do not wish to do so. Maybe it just boils down to something that simple.

    But I will never understand it. Could there be anything more disgusting than agents of the government (who theoretically work for you and me) sneaking into people’s houses and going through their personal effects and papers? Government sting operations, undercover agents busting college students, asset forfeiture, cops, cops and more cops and more prisons, judges and prosecutors with their big pay and power and tiny, tiny hearts…

    Damn the whole filthy, stinking mess.

  3. R.O.E. says:

    Humm… Didnt see this coming huh folks, so question is, How do we shrink the size and role of government to something that is controllable? Sounds alot like 1984 too me. I dont like the idea that agents can sneak into my home just because they say or think Im up to no good. Dont get me wrong. I think Its a very good Idea to give agents free reign to stop terrorists, but at what cost? Our freedom thats what cost.

    This bill was “RUSHED” through like so many other bills . This should really give people pause,to think,to say “Hold on there buddy, you wanna do what? Can we read this here thing before we vote on it?” Smells of political corruption aimed at our freedoms IMO.

    CORRUPTION”: A disease that spares no one.

  4. Nick Zentor says:

    The Patriot Act was written before 9/11. It was all part of the NWO plan of the neocons. These people designed the whole war on terror and Patriot Act powers to protect their own wealthy estates and make themselves stronger. They don’t simply fear terrorists, they fear all poor and working-class people.

    They are so afraid that the working-class will stage a rebellion that they created the war on drugs and the war on terror to give them the power to utterly destroy people they consider a threat to their wealthy and power before those people had a chance to do anything. The problem is, they think all poor and working-class people are a threat.

    Bottom-line: They don’t want to play the game fairly because they’re afraid they will lose, so they had to fix it for themselves, in such a way that they can destroy anyone that threatens their wealth and power before it happens. We’re not talking about terrorism, folks, we’re talking about fascist-capitalists fixing the game for themselves to preserve their wealth and power. The only way they decided they could guarantee that was with absolute power, and that’s what the Patriot Act was all about — Absolute Power.

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  6. DdC says:

    I agree,
    The Patriot Ax was written by Janet Edgar Reno for Billybob Klintoon and even protested by John Askrap, until he became AG under Boosh junior that is.

    About Ashcroft
    Senator John Ashcroft sounded the alarm in 1997 when the Clinton administration pushed for greater powers to eavesdrop on electronic communications. Now in power in Bush’s cabinet, he is presiding over a massive endrun around the Constitution that far surpasses former plans. See recent accounts of Bush Administration plans in the New York Times and Washington Post.

  7. Cannabis says:

    This made the rec list at DailyKos:

  8. Cptncaveman says:

    Hey Pete, long time lurker (3 years) first time poster. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for keeping your finger on the pulse, your site is an invaluable resource to those fighting the good fight. I apologize if you’ve been asked this before and have already answered, but I was wondering if you’ve always felt this way about drug policy reform, or if there was a specific moment in your life when the absurdity of this situation hit home. For me, it was my first (and only) arrest for “possession of controlled dangerous substances” I.E marijuana. I was 15 at the time, and was recommended to go through a juvenile review panel. My parents were fined and I was “sentenced” to 30 hours of community service. Most of the people I worked with during that time were working off community service, the entire store essentially ran off of it. I still remember how outraged I was when I discovered that one of the people I worked with was sentenced to 80 hours for possession of less than a gram of cocaine, while another girl was sentenced 8 hours for STABBING someone with a knife. Sorry about the wall of text, and I look forward to conversing with you in the future 🙂

    • Pete says:

      Cptncaveman – nothing quite so dramatic for me. I don’t even know that I could identify a specific moment. I had always been against most drug prohibition laws going back to college days in the 1970s, although not in any organized way (I didn’t read High Times or belong to NORML). Throughout my life, I’ve always been a very strong civil libertarian – huge defender of free speech, particularly as it related to art — active against arts censorship and any other kind of censorship, especially including the Communications Decency Act. I was an early player in working to protect internet freedoms and was proud to be part of 24 Hours of Democracy. At some point in the 1990s, I started to pay more attention to the sad absurdity of drug laws. I started doing performance rants at an open mic event about the drug war, and occasionally writing letters to the editor. In the early part of this decade, I started faculty advising a hemp-related student organization (which later became an SSDP chapter) and then in 2003 started this blog, mostly as an outlet to vent. Once I started writing the blog, it forced me to constantly learn more, which got me even more determined to end prohibition, and helped me refine my views. Every post I wrote got me more involved (and now it’s been 3,639 posts).

  9. claygooding says:

    Even tho these laws were enacted in haste,the seizure laws and sneak and peeks,they will require mucho money to overturn in the Supreme court,and a very good case and lawyers too match. I also think that any organization that is mandated by congress to lie to the American public,is unconstitutional,but again,lottsa dollars to get it ruled on.I base that on the supposed fact that this is supposed to be a government for the people,by the people and not a government of the people,for the government,by the government.

  10. claygooding says:

    Our country became a police state when they went from “Protect and Serve” too “Search and Seize”. Our elected officials ignore their constituents and protect big money interests and their own agendas. How do they expect to gain support for a health reform when their first act is too exempt their health care from any reform act? If it’s not good enough for them,it ain’t good enough for US either.
    Our economy is in the worst shape it has ever been,and they vote themselves a raise.
    No present sitting legislator should be there the next election they come too. We need too replace everyone of them with new thoughts and ideals,and we need to stop all lobbying in our legislature,too stop the wealthy and greedy people from buying our country.

  11. Nick Zentor says:

    Ddc, I dunno about exactly who wrote the Patriot Act, all I know is several officials have admitted that it was impossible for it to have been written, in complete, between 9/11 and the time it was passed through Congress later that year.

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  13. Servetus says:

    More proof that drug wars corrupt, and absolute drug wars corrupt absolutely.

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