Sneak and Peek

By Bill Maher

Remember after 9/11, when federal law enforcement said they definitely needed the power to use “sneak and peek” warrants, where the person isn’t informed that they’re being investigated beforehand because terrorism was so different and scary that we couldn’t afford tipping these genius terrorists off? And we all agreed, because terrorism, so we gave them this power in the Patriot Act.

Well, in the truly scary years of 2001-2003, federal agencies requested 47 “sneak and peak” warrants, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. You know what’s coming, don’t you?

By 2010, they were requesting 3,970. By 2011, 6,775. In 2012, 10,183. And in 2013, they asked for 11,129. Of those 11,129, guess how many were terrorism related?

51. Or 0.5 percent. 

The vast majority are used in drug cases. Which is why every time government asks for a new power we go through the same debate, where conservatives say it’s necessary to preserve security and you shouldn’t be so paranoid, that if you’re not a terrorist you don’t have anything to worry about, and liberals — and libertarians — say we shouldn’t give government these powers because they won’t be limited to terrorism and eventually they’ll be abused, and to the detriment of our own citizens. 

And then they are. Every time. But by all means, give the NSA power to read all of your emails or listen in on your phone calls whenever they feel like, and without a warrant or cause. Because terrorism, right?