Patriot Act

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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...
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