The patriot act

Since 9/11, the federal government has sought and acquired more power than at any other period in our nation’s history, much of which undermines the rights afforded by the Fourth Amendment. Laws granting unprecedented police powers such as the USA Patriot Act, along with secret surveillance programs, have caused concern among many about the fundamental rights secured by this Amendment. As discussed earlier, the Patriot Act includes provisions such as the “Sneak and Peak” clause that permits police to enter and search a person’s home with a secret search warrant and without informing the person for months afterwards. Then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft gave legitimacy to these “black bag jobs,” which were a throwback to former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Also under the “Sneak and Peak” provision, the FBI, with a warrant, can secretly enter a person’s home and plant a “Magic Lantern” on the computer. These devices (also known as the keystone logger) are almost impossible to detect and, once installed, create a record of every time a key is pressed on the computer. This record can then be recovered by the FBI during their next break-in. These “legal” break-ins and uses of “Magic Lanterns” are not limited to terrorists but are used in regular criminal investigations of American citizens as well.


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