Civil libertarian critics warned that the federal government already had this power for national security investigations. The Patriot Act provision was far too broad and would almost certainly become a common tactic in cases that have nothing to do with national security.
But this was all immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and there was little patience for civil libertarians.
The massive Patriot Act of course passed overwhelmingly, including the sneak-and-peek provision, despite the fact that only a handful of members of Congress had actually read it. (Not to mention the public.)
More than a decade later, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has published an analysis on use of the sneak-and-peek power. Just as critics predicted, it’s now a ubiquitous part of federal law enforcement.
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