Justice Department Opposes 'Sneak and Peek' Ban

R. A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Fri Jul 25 20:31:24 PDT 2003

Looks like they're dusting off their black bags again. Rubber hoses are next, I suppose.




Justice Department Opposes 'Sneak and Peek' Ban 

Friday, July 25, 2003; 5:48 PM 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Friday opposed a bid to ban the government from conducting secret "sneak and peek" searches of private property. 

The legislation, overwhelmingly approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, would roll back a key provision of the anti-terrorism law adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks. 

If it became law, the legislation, "would have a devastating effect on the United States' ongoing efforts to detect and prevent terrorism, as well as to combat other serious crimes," Assistant Attorney General William Moschella said. 

In a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, he said the legislation "could result in the intimidation of witnesses, destruction of evidence, flight from prosecution, physical injury and even death." 

On Tuesday, the House voted 309-118 to attach the amendment to a $37.9 billion bill funding the departments of Commerce, State and Justice. It would be the first change in the USA Patriot Act since its adoption in October, 2001. 

The amendment, sponsored by Idaho Republican Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, would block the Justice Department from using any funds to take advantage of the section of the law that allows it to secretly search the homes of suspects and only inform them later that a warrant had been issued to do so. 

The Patriot Act granted broad new powers to U.S. law enforcement officials to eavesdrop and detain immigrants. It was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. 

Moschella said the law was needed to prevent terror attacks and added that the Justice Department shared the commitment of the House "to preserving American liberties while we seek to protect American lives." He urged the House to "reconsider its action." 

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
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[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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