This Associated Press article discusses how the US Department of Justice has been using its increased powers granted under the Patriot Act just after September 11. Suffice to say that the DOJ and state prosecutors managed to get many items that had nothing to do with terrorism but which had been on its wish list for years into the bill, and it is now being used to tap phones, seize assets, and intrude on people’s liberties in ways that weren’t possible before.
Civil liberties and legal defense groups are bothered by the string of cases, and say the government soon will be routinely using harsh anti-terrorism laws against run-of-the-mill lawbreakers.
“Within six months of passing the Patriot Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases,” said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. “They say they want the Patriot Act to fight terrorism, then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens.”