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IP: Another big bite out of the 4th amendment?
From: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 19:25:50 -0700



From: "bdolan" <bdolan () usit net>
To: <farber () cis upenn edu>
Subject: Another big bite out of the 4th amendment?
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 19:23:18 -0400
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3110.1

A random thing which arrived in my e-mailbox today.

Know anything about this?

Brad


Fourth Amendment Sneak Attack
Reno's outrageous Secret Searches measure.

By Dave Kopel, of the Independence Institute

The Reno Department of Justice is very good at being sneaky. The DOJ's
lobbyists are on the verge of successfully sneaking into law a
provision
which will authorize federal agents to stealthily enter people's homes,
search the homes, and not tell anyone.

The Secret Searches measure is so outrageous that it would have no
chance of
being enacted as a bill on its own, when subjected to public scrutiny
and
debate. So instead, the DOJ has nestled the Secret Search item deep
inside a
long bill dealing with methamphetimines. The measure is further
disguised
with the innocuous title of "Notice Clarification."

Subject to virtually no public discussion, the Secret Searches item has
already passed the Senate, hidden inside the methamphetimine giant S.
486.
Next week, the House Judiciary Committee will take up H.R. 2987, the
House
version of the Senate bill, which also contains the buried clause on
Secret
Searches (section 301). The federal bankruptcy reform bill (which has
passed
both houses, and is currently in a conference committee) likewise has
the
hidden Secret Searches language.

If the Secret Searches provision became law, it would apply to all
searches
conducted by the federal government, not just searches involving
methamphetimines or bankruptcy.

When conducting searches, federal agents are currently required to
announce
their presence before entering, and to provide an inventory of any
items
they take. Because the person whose home or business is being searched
knows
about the search, he can exercise his Fourth Amendment rights, and make
sure
that the police have a properly-issued search warrant. He can also see
if
the search is being conducted according to the warrant's terms   i.e.,
the
police are searching only for items authorized by the warrant, they are
searching the right address, etc.

But under a Secret Searches law, federal police could enter a person's
home
surreptitiously, conduct a search, and not tell the homeowner until
months
later.

Even months later, the police would not have to provide an inventory of
"intangible" items which were taken in a search. So if the police
entered
your home secretly, and photocopied your diary or made a copy of your
computer hard disk, they would never have to inform you of their
actions.

Should the Secret Searches item be deleted from the methamphetimine and
bankruptcy bills, it is likely that Clinton will try to sneak the item
into
a gigantic budget bill, during the Congressional Republicans' annual
fall
appropriations surrender. Take note: In a previous Congress, Clinton
was
able to obtain authority for warrantless wiretaps   which had been
defeated
after public debate earlier in the year   by hiding the authority in
the
year's omnibus budget bill.



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