The PATRIOT Act contained a number of tools that expanded the power of federal law enforcement officials. One of these, the “sneak and peak” warrant, allows investigators to break into the home or business of the warrant’s target and delay notification of the intrusion until 30 days after the warrant’s expiration. This capability was sold to the American people as a necessary tool to fight terrorism.
In Fiscal Year 2008, federal courts issued 763 “sneak and peak” warrants. Only three were for terrorism cases. Sixty-five percent were drug cases. The report is available here.
Ryan Grim has more on this, including video of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) grilling Assistant Attorney General David Kris.