Part I Summarize the U. S. Patriot Act. The U. S. Patriot Act was developed to expand the intelligence gathering powers and increase responsibilities at all levels of law enforcement in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. It became apparent that law enforcement at the Federal, state, and local levels needed to work more closely. Much of the local governments were not equipped with adequate resources or the necessary training to assist in preventing terrorist attacks and responding to them.
Congress recognized these weaknesses at the local levels, as well as the lack of a coherent flow of information between Federal agencies, the flow of information from Federal agencies to state governments, and the subsequent flow of information to local level governments. Within only weeks of September 11, the U. S. Patriot Act was passed with an unprecedented bipartisan support. (Doyle, 2002) The USA Patriot Act serves as an acronym for it “Uniting and of Strengthening of America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” and is organized into ten titles.
Title I enhances domestic security against terrorism and presidential authority. Title II enhances surveillance procedures. Title III incorporates the International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-Terrorist Financing Act of 2001. Title IV addresses protecting the border. Title V removes obstacles to investigating terrorism. Title VI addresses providing for victims of terrorism, public safety officers, and their families. Title VII increases information sharing for critical infrastructure protection. Title VIII strengthens the criminal laws against terrorism.
Title IX improves intelligence, and Title X is reserved for miscellaneous regulations. (Horowitz, 2002) The Department of Justice claims that the Patriot Act has played a crucial role in many of the successful operations to prevent terrorist attacks on domestic soil. By taking the legal principles that were already in existence, Congress reorganized them in such a way that would improve counterterrorism efforts overall. Using tools that were previously available in organized crime and drugs trafficking investigations, the Act permits law enforcement to conduct electronic surveillance against more crimes of terror.
Through enhanced electronic surveillance capabilities, Federal agents are able to better track highly sophisticated terrorists and conduct investigations without alerting terrorists to the operation. Federal agents are now able to seek court orders to obtain business records relevant to the National Security terrorism cases. (Department of Justice) These are some of the more controversial provisions contained within the Patriot Act, and as such these provisions require renewals and congressional oversight.
The Patriot Act slashed many of the legal barriers that previously prevented Federal, state, and local entities from sharing information and coordinating efforts in the prevention and identification of terrorist plots. Without the ability to coordinate and share information amongst all government agencies, there is a much greater chance that critical intelligence could be overlooked. Allowing for enhanced sharing and cooperation greatly increases the likelihood that government agencies can ‘connect the dots’ and have a clear and full understanding of terrorist plots and disseminate these plots prior to an attack.
The Regional Information Sharing System (RISS) is a nationwide police investigative network that can now be used in law information sharing as it relates to terrorist activities as a result of the Act. Border patrols were increased as well as monitoring of foreigners within the United States. There are a number of provisions included to prevent alien terrorists from entering the United States, and to enable authorities to detain and that support alien terrorists and those who support them, and to provide humanitarian immigration relief for foreign victims of the as September 11 attacks. White, 2004) Federal law enforcement can now also communicate with banking regulators in relation to terrorist financing and money laundering, and the Act further provides for arrest powers outside of American borders for these activities. The authority of the secretary of the treasury was expanded to regulate the activities of domestic financial institutions and their international relations. (Doyle, 2002) A multitude of new money laundering crimes and amendments increasing penalties to earlier crimes now exist. Reporting requirements of suspicious transactions by securities and brokers have been strengthened.
The act created two types of forfeitures and modifies several confiscation procedures, where all of the property of an individual or entity that participates or plans an act of domestic or international terrorism can be seized. (Department of Justice) Until the act was put into place, laws were not reflective of current technologies and threats. The search warrant process became far more streamlined, allowing Law enforcement officials to obtain search warrants in any jurisdiction in which a terrorist associated activity took place, irrespective of where the warrant is executed.
Another major update to the laws included considering computer hackers the same as a physical trespasser, which permits victims of computer hacking to seek assistance from law enforcement officials. (Department of Justice) The Patriot Act significantly increased the punishment that would result for those who commit or aid in terrorist crimes. The harboring of terrorists became prohibited; crimes that are likely to be committed by terrorists have increased penalties, conspiracy penalties have been enhanced, and punishment against terrorist attacks on mass transit systems and bioterrorists.
The act also eliminates the statutes of limitations for various terrorist crimes and lengthens them for other terrorist crimes. (Department of Justice) The penalties for counterfeiting, cyber-crime, and charity fraud were also increased. The warrants for information in terrorist cases have also been increased. (White, 2004) Although there has been overwhelming support for the Patriot Act, some opposition exists. Those who are in support feel that the ability to respond to terrorism will be strengthened through the creation of an all-encompassing intelligence community.
Those who are in opposition believe that the law is too intrusive and attacks civil liberties, specifically with regard to the sharing of non-criminal intelligence during criminal investigations. Opponents also express discontent in increasing government power to monitor its own citizens. Some opponents have gone so far is to say that portions of the patriot act are unconstitutional. Other areas of concern as they relate to the patriot act include whether Federal response should be centralized or localized. (White, 2004) These initial controversies continue to exist, and arguably will continue to exist for many decades to come.
NPR News examined some of the most controversial provisions during the 2006 renewals of provisions due to expire. These provisions included areas of information sharing, roving wiretaps, access to records, foreign intelligence wire taps in searches, sneak and peek warrants, and material support. (Abramson, 2006) References Abramson, L. (2006, Feb 14). The patriot act: key controversies. Retrieved from http://www. npr. org/news/specials. patriotact. patriotactprovisions. html A master plan for homeland security. (2002, Jul 17). New York Times. Retrieved from http://ezproxy. bellevue. edu:80/login? url=http://search. proquest. om/docview/432132148? accountid=28125 Cienski, J. (2002, Jul 17). U. S. to adopt terrorists’ strategies: Homeland security: ‘red teams’ to search for weaknesses in country’s defence. National Post. Retrieved from http://ezproxy. bellevue. edu:80/login? url=http://search. proquest. com/docview/330007852? accountid=28125 Department of Justice. Highlights of the USA patriot act. Retrieved from http://www. justice. gov/archive/ll/highlights. htm Doyle, C. (2002, Apr 18). The USA patriot act: a sketch. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Retrieved from http://www. fas. org/irp/crs/RS21203. pdf Hall, M. (2002, Jul 17).
Homeland security strategy lays out ‘lines of authority’ ; officials say plan will cost billions. USA TODAY. Retrieved from http://ezproxy. bellevue. edu:80/login? url=http://search. proquest. com/docview/4 08892001? accountid=28125 Horowitz, R. Summary of key sections of the USA patriot act of 2001. Retrieved from http://www. rhesq. com/Terrorism/Patriot_Act_Summary. pdf Office of Homeland Security. (2002, Jul). National strategy for homeland security. Retrieved from http://www. ncs. gov/library/policy_docs/nat_strat_hls. pdf White, J. (2004). Defending the homeland: domestic intelligence, law enforcement, and security. CA: Wadsworth
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