sneak and peak

Date Sun, 11 Jun 2000 14:59:20 -0700

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Anti-Drug Bill Would Allow Secret Searches, 
Create New Crime: "Illegal Distribution of Information" 

        Immediate action required: Stop the "Methamphetamine Anti-
Proliferation Act" now!

        A bill that has passed the Senate unanimously and is now 
rapidly moving through the House poses a grave threat to your 
constitutional rights. This legislation -- HR 2987, also known as the 
Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act -- would:

    * Expand the government's power to conduct so-called "sneak-and-
peek searches." Police could search your house and not notify you for 
up to six months.

    * Make it a federal crime to write about any Internet site that 
provides drug paraphernalia.

    * Allow the government to prosecute Americans who teach others 
how to grow medical marijuana plants.

        Despite the fact that this legislation is a flagrant assault on 
your First and Fourth Amendment rights, it sailed through the Senate on 
November 19 without a single vote against it. 

        Now we need your help urgently to stop HR 2987 before the House 
approves it as well! HR 2987 is *overdue* for a vote: It was originally 
scheduled to be considered by the Judiciary Committee before the 
Memorial Day recess, but that action was postponed. 

        Now that the House has reconvened, a vote could be scheduled 
any day. (The legislation is also being considered by the House 
Commerce Committee.)

        We are asking you to act now to kill this bill before it gets 
out of committee. This "action item" contains:

        * Background on HR 2987 and a link to the bill so you can read 
it for yourself.

        * The names of the politicians on the two House committees 
considering this bill, Judiciary and Commerce.

        * Information on how to contact them and on what to say.

        BACKGROUND: The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act was 
introduced in July, 1999, by Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, and Orrin 
Hatch, R-UT. On November 19, the bill passed the Senate by "unanimous 
consent" with no recorded opposition. 

        Hatch and Feinstein claim their bill merely targets labs that 
produce methamphetamine, a form of speed. But the bill goes far beyond 
that and gives the federal government sweeping new powers. 

        * It would allow federal agents to conduct so-called "sneak and 
peek" searches without having to notify you for six months -- if ever.
Current law requires that, if police want to search your home, they 
must produce a warrant, and if you're not home, they have to 
immediately notify you about the search and give you an inventory of 
confiscated items. 

        But in vague, seemingly innocuous language in the section of HR
2987 entitled "Notice of Issuance," the legislation says that "any 
notice required" to be given for a search "may be delayed pursuant to 
the standards, terms, and conditions set forth in section 2705" of 
federal law.

    That section, according to legal experts, lets police delay 
notification for up to 180 days. That means police could conduct a 
"black bag" job on your house, search through your belongings -- and 
not even inform you they were there for a full six months. 

        * It would allow federal agents to secretly copy your computer 
files and financial documents, and even take photographs of your 
belongings without ever notifying you. How did this happen? Lobbyists 
for the FBI quietly inserted the word "tangible" before the word 
"property" in the following sentence of the bill: "Subdivision (d) of 
such rule, as in effect on this date, is amended by inserting 
'tangible' before 'property' each place it occurs."

        Since copies of your computer's hard drive -- and photographs 
of your personal belongings -- technically are not "tangible property," 
FBI and DEA agents would not have to notify you. 

        The "sneak and peek" provision is such a blatant violation of 
the Fourth Amendment that it even caught the attention of Republican 
Rep. Bob Barr -- normally a vociferous supporter of the government's 
War on Drugs. Barr called the underhanded maneuver "typical behavior 
from the Justice Department and the FBI. That's certainly not the way 
to conduct business when you're dealing with people's liberties."

        HR 2987 also attacks your First Amendment freedoms by creating 
several "communication crimes." It:

      * Creates a federal felony -- punishable by a 10-year prison 
term -- called "Illegal distribution of information." Section 421 of 
the bill says it shall be unlawful to "teach or demonstrate to any 
person the manufacture of a controlled substance."

        Lawyers say this provision could be used to prosecute, for 
example, an individual who told a suffering AIDS or cancer victim how 
to grow medical marijuana. 

        * Makes it illegal to advertise -- even indirectly -- drug 
paraphernalia. Section 5 of the bill says it shall be illegal for any 
"communications facility" to "post, publicize, transmit, publish, link 
to, broadcast or otherwise advertise" any sort of "drug paraphernalia" 
or "controlled substances."

        So, "if you had links on your web site to sites like High Times 
magazine, you could be threatened with a count of indirect advertising,"
according to Keith Stroup, executive director of NORML.

Thanks to HR 2987, the War on Drugs has become a War on Words!


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