Safe and Free in Times of Crisis

Safe and Free in Times of Crisis


WASHINGTON — In a letter sent Oct. 19, 2001 to congressional conferees on the anti-terrorism legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Free Congress Foundation and 17 other organizations from across the political spectrum today urged that “Sneak and Peek” provision be deleted because it undermines the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

“`Sneak and peek’ is a radical departure from the way our Founding Fathers tried to protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures,” said J. Bradley Jansen, Deputy Director of the Free Congress Foundation’s Center for Technology Policy. “Citizens are supposed to enjoy the protection of the Fourth Amendment. What makes this measure particularly troubling is that the sunset provisions that apply to other measures of the Anti-Terrorism bill do not apply here. Furthermore, it applies to all crimes that fall under Federal jurisdiction, not just those involving terrorism.”

Rachel King, the ACLU Legislative Counsel who drafted the letter, said that if the government insists it needs the “sneak and peek” authority, it should urge Congress to hold hearings and carefully consider its implications.

“Sneaking the provision on to a bill that the Administration knows will pass is playing fast and loose with our Constitution,” King said.

In addition to the ACLU and Free Congress Foundation, the letter to Judiciary Committee chairmen Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT, and Representative James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, ranking minority members Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative John Conyers (D-MI) was signed by 19 organizations, including the Center for Democracy and Technology and Gun Owners of America.

The joint letter can be found at:

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