Great Britain: Saved by ‘Sneak & Peak’ Warrants

by on August 10th, 2006

Lost in the intense and breathtaking reporting concerning the averted terrorist airline attacks in Great Britain was a side bar report that the key intelligence that MI5 and Scotland Yard gleaned was from so-called ‘sneak and peak’ warrants.

These warrants allow agents to clandestinely break into the target’s premises and search for certain prescribed items and information. Although in the U.S. the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts have historically upheld these warrants, the first express statutory authorization of them came with the Patriot Act in 2001.

But the ACLU has been lodging lawsuits against them for many years, and in 2004 ran a $1.52 million ad campaign designed to sow fear in the hearts of innocent Americans. Indeed, the ads darkly asserted that the U.S. government can break into our homes without our knowledge or permission, despite the fact that notification must be made ex post facto. Their hyperbolic characterizations are not only a distortion of the facts but a craven, cynical attempt to generate political capital against these highly effective, but rarely used warrants.

There was a time when the ACLU wasn’t in the fatal grasp of liberalism, and indeed, used the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights to scrupulously interpret and protect our civil rights. That time has long since passed and it is now one of the left’s most potent tools in its war against mainstream American values, one of which is the protection of the U.S. and its security interests.

Now we learn that Great Britain, our closest ally, aggressively pursued terrorists, most likely from Pakistan, but who were “homegrown” in terms of their melding in to the civic landscape, and averted a major attack. Their use of sneak and peak warrants allowed them to gather critical evidence that led to the discovery of a plot to use liquid explosives aboard at least ten planes bound for the United States and to detonate them mid-air.

Besides their success in uncovering this heinous plot, this episode and the likely editorial aftermath will provide further evidence of how well our civil libertarians understand the lethal nature of this enemy.

Absolute security is an oxymoron, so all our government can be expected to do is to degrade the enemy’s chances for destroying innocent life. In that respect, few doubt that its efforts are designed with the utmost respect for the privacy and rights of Americans citizens. Therefore, those with nothing to fear can go about their business confident that their privacy won’t be breached, and indeed, the NSA surveillance program was designed to mine blinded, anonymous data.

But that won’t stop the politically jaundiced ACLU and their untold minions in the mainstream press, not to mention the Beltway liberals who parrot their misinformed message.

Ours is a civilized society governed by the rule of law and there is no evidence that the programs instituted since 9/11 to thwart another terrorist attack have impinged upon or compromised the rights of innocent civilians. It would be helpful to our efforts to win this war against the Islamic fascists if the ACLU would bring an element of reasonableness to their analysis of these programs, one that is devoid of political motivation, and, that accurately characterizes the true threat they pose to Americans–which is virtually nonexistent.

But if their track record is any indication, we should expect more fabrications, distortions, and incendiary rhetoric. It’s clear where their interests lie and it’s not with the security of our Republic.

Mella is Founder and Editor of

Philip Mella