Friday, January 23, 2004

I was watching the debate last night when the following exchange between Wesley Clark and the moderator occurred:

GRIFFITH: General Clark, Patriot Act, comes under an awful lot of criticism, as you well know. Many say it erodes our personal liberties, while, of course, it's clear that we all want a secure country. How would your administration revisit the Patriot Act and strike a balance between national security and personal liberties?

CLARK: Well, I'm very concerned about the Patriot Act. It was passed in haste. It's very long. It's got dozens and dozens and dozens of changes.
What we would do is suspend all the portions of the Patriot Act that have to do with search and seizure: sneak-and-peek searches; library records; and so on. If they want to do a wiretap, they can do it the old-fashioned way, go to a judge with probable cause.

I thought it odd that Clark seemed to believe that the USA Patriot Act suspend the Fourth Amendment, so I decided to do some digging:

Section 213 of the Patriot act amends 18 U. S. C. § 3103a, relating to warrants for searches and seizures.
18 U. S. C. § 3103a now states:
“With respect to the issuance of any warrant or court order under this section, or any other rule of law, to search for and seize any property or material that constitutes evidence of a criminal offense in violation of the laws of the United States, any notice required, or that may be required, to be given may be delayed if ...
(1) the court finds reasonable cause to believe that providing immediate notification of the execution of the warrant may have an adverse result (as defined in section 2705);
(2) the warrant prohibits the seizure of any tangible property ... except where the court finds reasonable necessity for the seizure; and
(3) the warrant provides for the giving of such notice within a reasonable period of its execution, which period may thereafter be extended by the court for good cause shown.”14

Now, I am perplexed where Clark got his information that this section suspended the requirements of Probable Cause and a warrant for a delayed notification search? The Act does not suspend the warrant requirement for these types of searches and seizures. Furthermore, "Probable Cause"( that being Probable Cause that evidence of a crime is in the place to be searched or Probable Cause that the items to be seized is evidence or contraband) is still required for the issuance of the Warrant. Reasonable cause and good cause are the requirements for delayed notification.

I hope he is ignorant of the law and not intentionally trying to scare people as to the specific aspects of the Patriot Act!