Report: DOJ Used 9/11-Era Patriot Act Terrorism Law To Obtain Search Warrant On January 6 Defendants

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An unsealed court document reveals that in July of 2021 federal prosecutors filed an application for a search warrant citing a rarely used ‘domestic terrorism’ measure in the Patriot Act to “seize and search” the cellphone of an attorney connected to the Oath Keepers.

The Patriot Act, as many will remember, passed quickly through Congress after 9/11.

The warrant was sought in connection to the FBI and DOJ’s investigation of the January 6 riot at the Capitol. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui approved the request in a signed opinion on September 6 stating that the “government established that its investigation … was an investigation of domestic terrorism … in Washington, D.C., on January 6th.”

Faruqui, according to the Washington Post, did not specify why the ‘domestic terrorism’ provision was invoked but noted it allows investigators to move quickly in such cases.

The provision allows federal officials to obtain a search warrant from a magistrate judge anywhere in the country rather than one located in the area of the search.

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Domestic Terrorism Measure in Patriot Act Used to Seize Cellphone of American Citizen

The opinion shows the federal investigators seemingly went judge shopping by using the ‘domestic terrorism’ measure in the Patriot Act to get a judge in D.C. to grant the seizure of a cellphone of an American citizen in Texas.

The Post reports that they wanted permission for the “search of a cellphone owned by a person who appears to match the description of an attorney for the Oath Keepers, Kellye SoRelle.”

SoRelle was arrested last week in Texas and charged with four counts, including conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, and obstruction of justice.

The Post report notes that getting approval for a search warrant from an outside judge using the ‘domestic terrorism’ provision in the Patriot Act “seem(s) to be the exception rather than the rule” with this case possibly being the “first time” it’s ever been disclosed.

Faruqui acknowledged that fact, stating that the request was “unlike most search warrant applications submitted to this Court.”

An FBI agent “assigned to a squad that is responsible for Domestic Terrorism cases” cited what the Post calls “an exception to the normal rule of federal criminal procedure.”

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Paul Warned Us About It Being Used Against Americans

‘Domestic terrorism’ by the Patriot Act’s definition includes any activities intended “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”

Before you go dismissing this revelation by the federal court out of hand because it applies to a group decried as “extremist” like the Oath Keepers and is being used to track down the handful of individuals who did act maliciously on January 6th, remember this important fact:

A letter coordinated between the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the White House in September of 2021 sought to classify confrontations from outraged parents at school board meetings as “a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes” that could be viewed as a violation of the Patriot Act.

In November, House Republicans released documents provided by a whistleblower that allegedly show the FBI investigated parents critical of local school boards using “counterterrorism tools.”

Meaning that this administration isn’t content with weaponizing the Patriot Act to use against American citizens with ill intent at the Capitol. No, they’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from applying it more broadly.

And why wouldn’t they? The administration is led by President Biden, a man who liked to brag that he practically wrote the Patriot Act.

“Civil libertarians were opposed to it,” Biden not-so-humbly bragged, claiming the Patriot Act was crafted based on an anti-terrorism bill he introduced in 1994.

“Right after 1994 – and you can ask the attorney general this – because I got a call when he introduced the Patriot Act. He said, ‘Joe, I’m introducing the act basically as you wrote it in 1994,'” he continued.

Biden was referring to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

“It was defeated then not by any liberals,” Biden added. “It was defeated then by the folks who were worried we’d have the Minutemen, would get in trouble.”

The ACLU though describes the Patriot Act as “the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans.”

Former Representative Ron Paul was the only Republican in the presidential field in 2012 who, in a debate on national security, stood against reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

Paul stood alone in explaining that the law is “unpatriotic because it undermines our liberties.”

His son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, would stage a filibuster against the Patriot Act just a few short years later.

“There comes a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer,” Paul said from the Senate floor. “That time is now, and I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged.”

SoRelle and other Oath Keepers arrested in the January 6 protest have pleaded not guilty as they await trials later this month.

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Rusty Weiss has been covering politics for over 15 years. His writings have appeared in the Daily Caller, Fox... More about Rusty Weiss

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