FactCheck.org ACLU Ad On Sneak and Peek Searches Overblown
The American Civil Liberties Union is running an ad alleging that the USA Patriot Act allows authorities to search homes “without notifying us . . . treating us all like suspects.” That’s not exactly true.
Actually, notice still has to be given to the subject of such a search, eventually. And far from treating us “all” like suspects, the Department of Justice reports seeking only 47 such “sneak-and-peek” warrants in the law’s first 17 months.
“Sneak-and-peek” searches are now easier to get, legal in all jurisdictions, and the law contains no practical limit on how long authorities can delay notifying the subject of a search. But contrary to the impression left by the ad, they aren’t new: some federal courts allowed them prior to the USA Patriot Act.