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Privacy Group Sues for Patriot Act Papers


— October 14, 2003

A civil liberties group sued the Justice Department on Tuesday seeking internal documents about lobbying by federal prosecutors to discourage Congress from approving major changes to the Patriot Act.

The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center sought quick release of documents related to an Aug. 14 memorandum from Guy A. Lewis, the director of the executive office for United States Attorneys.

In his August memo, Lewis urged prosecutors “to call personally or meet with … congressional representatives” to argue against an amendment offered by Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter, R-Idaho, that would cut federal funds for so-called “sneak and peak” warrants in terror cases.

Such warrants allow the FBI, with a judge’s approval, to sneak into a suspect’s home, office or vehicle for surveillance without immediately notifying the target of the investigation. They are among the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, which allowed expanded use of such searches.

In its response to the group’s request for government records, the Justice Department concluded that the subject of the documents was “not one of exceptional media interest, nor does it raise any questions about the governments integrity which might affect public confidence.”

The Justice Department did not determine it won’t release the documents eventually, but it rejected the group’s request that the records be made public expeditiously. The privacy group has argued that the lobbying campaign “raises serious questions about the propriety of political appointees.”

And keep in mind that the Justice Department has already demonstrated its enthusiasm for using the provisions of the Patriot Act to go after “ordinary criminals” as well as suspected terrorists. Kudos to the Electronic Privacy Information Center for shining a spotlight on Ashcroft’s nefarious efforts, as reported here. (All the while remembering, of course, Ashcroft’s inviolable committment to our civil rights.)


A civil liberties group sued the Justice Department on Tuesday seeking internal documents about lobbying by federal prosecutors to discourage Congress from approving major changes to the Patriot Act.

The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center sought quick release of documents related to an Aug. 14 memorandum from Guy A. Lewis, the director of the executive office for United States Attorneys.

In his August memo, Lewis urged prosecutors “to call personally or meet with … congressional representatives” to argue against an amendment offered by Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter, R-Idaho, that would cut federal funds for so-called “sneak and peak” warrants in terror cases.

Such warrants allow the FBI, with a judge’s approval, to sneak into a suspect’s home, office or vehicle for surveillance without immediately notifying the target of the investigation. They are among the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, which allowed expanded use of such searches.

In its response to the group’s request for government records, the Justice Department concluded that the subject of the documents was “not one of exceptional media interest, nor does it raise any questions about the governments integrity which might affect public confidence.”

The Justice Department did not determine it won’t release the documents eventually, but it rejected the group’s request that the records be made public expeditiously. The privacy group has argued that the lobbying campaign “raises serious questions about the propriety of political appointees.”

And keep in mind that the Justice Department has already demonstrated its enthusiasm for using the provisions of the Patriot Act to go after “ordinary criminals” as well as suspected terrorists. Kudos to the Electronic Privacy Information Center for shining a spotlight on Ashcroft’s nefarious efforts, as reported here. (All the while remembering, of course, Ashcroft’s inviolable committment to our civil rights.)

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