The Patriot Act has thus far been used in only 15 terrorism cases but in a whopping 1,618 drug-related cases.
Drug dealers are not our friends, but they have not been traditionally classified as “terrorists,” and so we can say that the Patriot Act is not being used as it was intended to be used when first passed.
The act makes it easier than ever to wiretap Americans, to go through business records without notifying anyone, and to proceed with implementing search warrants without first notifying suspects. It also does not provide for judicial review since judges have no right to refuse permission to federal officials who ask to treat a case under the law’s provisions.
As pointed out by friend Brad Reifler, while certain information-sharing provisions in the law that made it legal for the FBI, CIA, etc. to share data on ongoing cases were a common sense step forward, the law in general clearly violates the 4th Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It does not require that the things to be searched and seized and the location where this is to take place be specified as the 4th Amendments says must take place.
Getting tough on terrorists is a priority, but there is no reason this can not be done without compromising the Constitutionally-specified rights of all American citizens. If the 4th Amendment no longer applies to drug cases, how long will it be before it ceases to apply in every other type of case?