Case Study 3: USA PATRIOT Act Due Week 7 Read The New York Times’ article titled “Battle Looms Over the Patriot Act”, and the Highlights of the USA PATRIOT Act in an article titled “The USA PATRIOT Act: Preserving Life and Liberty” Write a three to four (2-4) page paper in which you:
- Describe how the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act grants law enforcement and intelligence officials special powers to combat terrorism.
- Explain in your own words the two (2) different views of the USA PATRIOT Act and why some believe it is inappropriate legislation.
- Consider the Act and determine whether you believe that law enforcement and intelligence officials should have the authority granted to them in the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.
SEC 310 USA Patriot Act Case Study Sample Answer
Describe how the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act grants law enforcement and intelligence officials special powers to combat terrorism.
The main objective of the USA PATRIOT Act was to prevent and punish terrorist undertakings in the United States as well as around the world. It is also aimed at enhancing law enforcement tools among other purposes. This law is a modification of several already existing laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Money Laundering Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, the Family Education Rights, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Privacy Act among others (McCarthy, 2002).
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A significant portion of the USA Patriot Act is aimed at preventing acts of terrorist violence from being executed against the people United States in the future. A good example of the act’s preventative measures includes making intelligence information sharing process between different law enforcement agencies easier. According to the Justice Department, having the right information on timely basis makes it easier for the agencies to “connect the dots” of data and thus making it easier to detect potential terrorist threats and address them effectively (McCarthy, 2002).
In addition, the USA Patriot Act makes the process of enforcing money-laundering statutes easier and also allows law enforcers to apply measures, such as to freezing certain organizations’ assets, which disrupt terrorists financing undertakings. The Act also gives law enforcement officials the power to monitor and intercept personal conversations, telephone and Internet conversations, and thus they can easily detect terror plans. Another way that the act helps combat terrorism is by increasing the funds allocated to guard and secure the country’s Northern border (Evans, 2001). For many years, terrorists and potential terrorists have exploited the United State’s Northern border to enter the country and thus guarding it makes it harder for potential terrorists to enter the country. Furthermore, the Act provides resources necessary for training incidents respondents such as firefighters to ensure that any terror attacks are dealt with effectively. It also gives the Attorney General the power to offer rewards to individuals who assist in combating terrorism.
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Finally, the Act allows government agencies to exercise the powers they use non-terrorist crimes in investigating terrorist acts. For example, delaying search warrants notification, which can be an effective crime-fighting tool that that has been used by American courts for decades to combat illegal activities including drug cases, organized crime, and child pornography (Evans, 2001). This is a vital tool employed in preventing, detecting and debilitating potential terrorists on timely basis.
Explain in your own words the two (2) different views of the USA PATRIOT Act and why some believe it is inappropriate legislation.
The USA Patriot Act has raised different views from different stakeholders, including people and organizations. Some believe that it has played a significant role in protecting America and her citizens from terrorist attacks while others believe that it causes more harm than good. Although the former Attorney General John Ashcroft and the current Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez have both defended the Act zealously, a good number of American citizens still have concerns regarding the Act. Generally, citizen and student groups as well as organizations including labor, religious and government organizations are against the USA Patriot Act provisions, which they believe threaten civil liberties.
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Legal professionals indicate that the Act interferes with elements of the Bill of Rights. For instance, the act erodes the bill of right’s First Amendment, which gives an individual freedom of speech and assembly; Fourth Amendment, which protects an individual from unreasonable search and seizure; Fifth Amendment, which gives an individual the right to due process of law, Sixth Amendment, which gives an individual the right to a speedy, public, and fair trial and the right to defense; and lastly, the Eighth Amendment, which protects an individual from excessive, cruel and unusual punishment. The Act allows law enforcers to have unlimited access to individual’s personal information including financial, educational, and medical information without their consent as long as they are perceived to use it for a significant purpose. The term significant purpose in this case is ambiguous thus leaving room for power abuse (USA Patriot Act, 2001). In addition, Government agents are permitted to tap, monitor and intercept any communications they wish to. The Justice Department also has the power to mandate police to raid an individual’s homes and seize property without any notice under “sneak and peak warrants”. Law enforcers are permitted to spy on individuals and organizations, both religious and political, devoid of any indication of criminal activity and they can also detain suspects and refuse them access to lawyers (USA Patriot Act, 2001). All these and many other issues have been the roots of the concerns raised by American citizens.
Consider the Act and determine whether you believe that law enforcement and intelligence officials should have the authority granted to them in the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Although the USA Patriot Act has raised numerous concerns, I believe that law enforcers and intelligence officials should be given the authority granted to them. The importance and role played by strategies put in place to combat terrorism in the United States, the Act included, cannot be ignored. The USA Patriot Act is a good example of the struggle between maintaining security and individual liberty. However, it can be argued that the Act does not pose threats to civil liberties. After a careful analysis, I concluded that the Act limits the liberties of all individuals so as to reduce the threat of terrorism. In this case, the end justifies the means.
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