The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act Written Analysis

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) was considered as the most dramatic and fundamental changes brought to U.S. intelligence community since the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947. The key objective of the IRTPA was to ensure intelligence information was shared effectively among the intelligence community something that was missing prior to 9/11 attack (Jacobson, 2004). As a result, IRTPA mandated the creation of director of national intelligence office and National Counterterrorism Center. Analysis indicated that IRTPA brought significant improvement to the Justice Department and FBI by enhancing their powers in combating international terrorism in various ways. However, IRTPA have most controversial changes which include the amendment of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). This amendment permits FBI to conduct secret searches and wiretap the conversation of individual suspected terrorist who has no tangible connection with the foreign power.

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            Some of these changes were been pushed by many members of the Congress upon realization that FBI were unable to wiretap conspirator Zacarias Mousaoui before the 9/11 attack because his lawyer argued that FISA did not provide a provision that allowed FBI to wiretap communication of the terrorist suspects that had insufficient information to link them with foreign powers. In order to convince the Congress to support the changes, FBI officials reiterated the increasing danger associated with lone actors who are sympathizers of a formal terrorist groups and are capable of carrying out an attack with no or little connection to the international terrorist groups (Civic Impluse, 2017). The critics of this amendment have argued that IRTPA violates Fourth Amendment that protect individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. This will affect Justice Department from prosecuting the case, but the defendant is likely to have hard time challenging the legality of the FISA warrant if the FBI agent relied on ‘lone wolf’ provision while conducting the searches.

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            Another major change that IRTPA brought to Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was the inclusion of ‘material support’ statute in Title 18 Section 2339. The included provision states that it is a crime for an individual or organization to provide material resource or support to an individual, organization or groups to be used in connection with terrorist act. Section 2339B went further to prohibit ‘knowingly’ providing material support or resources to organizations designated as ‘foreign terrorist organizations’ (Hastedt, 2006). The statute defined materials resources to include physical assets, safe houses, communication equipment, training, financial assets and other facilities. The USA PATRIOT Act changed the statute to include ‘expert advice and assistance’.

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            IRTPA make it explicitly clear that it is criminal offense to ‘knowingly receive’ military-type training from the designated terrorist organization. It was not possible to prosecute someone in the past if he/she confessed to have knowingly attended an al-Qaeda training camp since it was not an illegal act (Hastedt, 2006). Considering that U.S. intelligence have approximated 10,000 – 20,000 individuals to have undergone training at al-Qaeda camp between 1996 and 2001 in Afghanistan.            

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In conclusion, IRTPA has enhance counterterrorism by clearly defining the terms that were considered as questionable in courts such as ‘training’, ‘knowingly provided’ and ‘expert advice or assistance’. These gaps had been identified by FBI official but it required the support from the Senate and Congress in order to become a law.

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