2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: June 2, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
E-Mail: 76214.3676@Compuserve.com
Dangerous new bill would allow secret
'sneak and peek' searches of your home

WASHINGTON, DC -- A new bill that would allow federal law enforcement agents to secretly enter and search your home -- without ever notifying you -- would "pick the lock" on the Fourth Amendment and demolish your protection against "unreasonable search and seizure," the Libertarian Party warned today.

"This is the ultimate sneak and peek bill," said Steve Dasbach, the party's national director. "It would allow law enforcement agents to invade your home like cat burglars, violate your rights, steal your security, and plunder your property.

"And worst of all: The bill could pass any day now unless Americans stand up for the Fourth Amendment -- and against politicians who want to behave like criminals."

The bill, HR. 2987, the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, is currently being considered by several House committees. A similar bill, S. 486, passed the Senate in November.

In vague, seemingly innocuous language tucked deep in HR. 2987 in a section entitled "Notice of Issuance," the legislation would:

  • Allow federal law enforcement to enter your home and search it without notifying you for several months -- or ever. Current law requires federal agents to announce their presence before entering, and to show a properly issued search warrant.

  • Allow federal law enforcement to take "intangible" items -- such as copies of your personal papers or your computer's hard drive -- and never furnish a list of what they took. Current law requires federal agents to provide an immediate inventory of all seized items.

  • Although the legislation is specifically targeted at methamphetamine, legal experts say the secret search provisions could be used by any law enforcement agents -- which is why the bill is so dangerous, said Dasbach.

    "The Fourth Amendment is supposed to protect Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures," he said. "That's why current law requires police to have probable cause and a valid warrant; to announce their intention to conduct a search; and to provide an inventory of whatever they take.

    "But how can you determine if a search warrant is valid if the search is done in secret? How can you challenge an improper search if you're never told about it? How do you know whether police illegally seized items if they don't have to tell you what they took? This bill doesn't just allow law enforcement to pick the lock on your home -- it picks the lock on the Fourth Amendment and turns unreasonable searches and seizures into invisible searches and seizures."

    And that's why the "sneak and peek" language was "snuck and tucked" into HR. 2987, said Dasbach.

    "Politicians knew this unconstitutional provision would never stand the scrutiny of the American public," he said. "People would be outraged if politicians brazenly announced their plan to repeal Fourth Amendment protections. So politicians snuck it into a bigger bill in camouflaged language, and hoped no one would notice.

    "But this sneak attack on our rights can't go unchallenged. Methamphetamine may be dangerous -- but not as dangerous as HR. 2987, or as dangerous as politicians who want to behave like sneak thieves and rob us of our security, our privacy, and our liberty."

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