Broadening the scope of PATRIOT into standard law


Fang-Face writes "There is an interesting article by Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times and which is reprinted at In it, he basically blows the whistle about how this "antiterrorism" tool is being used increasingly to target run of the mill offenders. You can read it for yourself. Here are the opening paragraphs:

The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.

The government is using its expanded authority under the far-reaching law to investigate suspected drug traffickers, white-collar criminals, blackmailers, child pornographers, money launderers, spies and even corrupt foreign leaders, federal officials said.

Justice Department officials say they are simply using all the tools now available to them to pursue criminals - terrorists or otherwise. But critics of the administration's antiterrorism tactics assert that such use of the law is evidence the administration is using terrorism as a guise to pursue a broader law enforcement agenda. Now, where was it I saw that article about how Big Bubba was planning to file against a methamphetamine producer for cranking out chemical weapons for Uncle Osama?"


One of several places this case is discussed at can be found at (NE PA News) &BRD=2212&PAG=461&dept_id=465812&rfi=6 (Sorry for the bone crushing URL).

Sample quote:
"A county prosecutor in North Carolina charged a man accused of running a methamphetamine lab with violating a state law barring the manufacture of chemical weapons.

If convicted, Martin Dwayne Miller could get from 12 years to life in prison for a crime that usually puts a person behind bars for about six months.

Watauga County District Attorney Jerry Wilson said he isn't abusing the law, which passed two months after the Sept. 11 attacks and defines chemical weapons of mass destruction as "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury and ... is or contains toxic or poisonous chemicals or their immediate precursors.""

In some ways, it's more frightening to me that this guy's been charged under a state law. That's 50 more legislatures and court systems we have to educate about the bill of rights.

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