Of course, when it was passed, it was said quite long and loud that the Patriot Act would only be used against "terrorists"..... I guess they are
considering all Americans to be terrorists now...
But then, didnt we really expect this???
U.S. Uses Terror Law to Pursue Crimes From Drugs to Swindling
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun
using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.
The government is using its expanded authority under the far-reaching law to investigate suspected drug traffickers, white-collar criminals,
blackmailers, child pornographers, money launderers, spies and even corrupt foreign leaders, federal officials said.
Justice Department (news - web sites) officials say they are simply using all the tools now available to them to pursue criminals — terrorists or
otherwise. But critics of the administration's antiterrorism tactics assert that such use of the law is evidence the administration has sold the
American public a false bill of goods, using terrorism as a guise to pursue a broader law enforcement agenda.
Justice Department officials point out that they have employed their newfound powers in many instances against suspected terrorists. With the new law
breaking down the wall between intelligence and criminal investigations, the Justice Department in February was able to bring terrorism-related
charges against a Florida professor, for example, and it has used its expanded surveillance powers to move against several suspected terrorist cells.
But a new Justice Department report, given to members of Congress this month, also cites more than a dozen cases that are not directly related to
terrorism in which federal authorities have used their expanded power to investigate individuals, initiate wiretaps and other surveillance, or seize
millions in tainted assets.