Every shakedown artist knows the value of fear and how it can be transformed into power and even wealth. You make people afraid and they hand you things, sometimes in plump envelopes at the cash register every Friday.
One thing that a fearful Congress handed the ultimate shakedown artist, Dick Cheney, was the Patriot Act. These were extraordinary powers derived from the yielding of established rights and freedoms said to be necessary to fight terrorism.
Now it turns out that some of the key powers of the Patriot Act are being used not to safeguard the US against terrorist attacks but in drug investigations. The Patriot Act is now a component of America's criminal justice apparatus.
One of the more controversial provisions of the post-9/11 terror law, the Patriot Act, was to broaden the "sneak-and-peek" power for federal law enforcement officials. The provision allows investigators to conduct searches without informing the target of the search.