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The Patriot Act

The Patriot Act

What is the Patriot Act?

Introduction
to Patriot Act

The USA PATRIOT act is an acronym that
stands for the “Uniting (and)
Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept
(and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”
which granted American law
enforcement unprecedented rights to gather intelligence and abridge civil
liberties in the face of the terrorist threat to the United States.  The Patriot Act was passed by Congress by
overwhelming margins in 2001, renewed in 2006 and once again extended by
President Obama in 2011.

Provisions
of the Patriot Act

There are ten parts to the Patriot
Act, each concerning a different aspect of anti-terrorism efforts.  Only sections that remain in effect will be
listed as many of the original sections expired in 2006.  Provisions of the Patriot Act were subject to
sunset clauses, or a mandatory expiration by a certain date, requiring those
provisions to be re-approved.

Title
I of Patriot Act: Enhancing Domestic Security against Terrorism

Section 101 of Patriot Act – provides
for an unlimited Counterterrorism Fund to compensate the Department of Justice
for costs of assessing terror threats, paying rewards to informants and
rebuilding facilities destroyed by terrorist attacks

Section 102 of Patriot Act – affirms
the civil rights of South Asian, Arab and other Muslims in the United States
and condemns post-9/11 retaliation against these groups.  This section rejects collective
responsibility for wrongdoing and affirms that these groups will be treated as
individuals

Section 103 of Patriot Act – Promises
$200 million to the FBI for a Technical Support Center

Section 104 of Patriot Act – Allows
for the intervention of military troops, with the consent of the Attorney
General, in the event non-chemical weapons of mass destruction are used against
Americans domestically or abroad.

Section 105 of Patriot Act – Assigns
the Secret Service with the task of creating a National Electronic Crime Task
Force for preventing fiduciary damage against the electronic finance systems

Section 106 of Patriot Act – The President
is allowed to investigate the transactions of foreign nationals and countries
and seize their assets, without due process if they participate on an attack
against the United States.

The content of these sections
represent an increase in Presidential power and the authorization of various
government agencies to investigate possible terrorist activity in the United
States.

Title 2 of Patriot Act: Enhanced Surveillance Procedures

Section
203a/c of Patriot Act
Streamlined
procedures to disclose information between the courts and the government during
grand jury deliberations or proceedings. 
Subsection c gave the authority to the Attorney General to establish the
procedures by which this information is disclosed.

Section
205 of Patriot Act
Grants
the FBI the power to employ translators to support counter terror operations
without typical limitation and regulations set on typical federal
employees.  The Director of the FBI must
regularly disclose the number of translators employed in this manner to
Congress.

Section
208 of Patriot Act
Amended
from the original to require 11 (formerly 7) judges to review a surveillance
order, with three judges living within 20 miles of the capital.

Section
210/11 of Patriot Act
Affirms
the right of the government to force a communications provider to hand over
records of electronic communication.

Section
213 of Patriot Act
The
government may conduct searches without immediately notifying the suspect of
the warrant.  This is viewed as necessary
to prevent the tipping off of co-conspirators.

Section
216  of Patriot Act
Limits
the use of electronic surveillance equipment in investigations

Section
219 of Patriot Act
Allows
judges to issues search warrants both in and outside of the jurisdiction that
pertain to a terrorism investigation.

Section
221 of Patriot Act
Refers to
trade sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism, weapons proliferation and
drug trafficking.

Section
222 of Patriot Act
Limits
the degree of cooperation of a telecommunications provider and law enforcement
to the provisions of the Patriot Act alone.

Title II has previously given sweeping
power to federal authorities to intercept communications that might be related
to terrorist plots but many of those provisions have since expired.  There are now limitations on the use of
surveillance devices and the ability of law enforcement to conduct
searches.  Many of the provisions, such
as delayed notifications of warrants apply in domestic law as well.  Ongoing investigations started prior to 2006
retain the expired provisions until he conclusion of the investigation.  Critics have argued that this section does
not provide reasonable safeguards against the harassment of innocent civilians
by law enforcement by compromising their electronic privacy.

Title
III of Patriot Act International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act
of 2001

Subtitle A – This section is comprised of
regulations to prevent money laundering including restrictions on certain types
of bank accounts, financial institutions’ relationships with foreign entities
and increasing communication between these institutions and the government.  It also increased criminal penalties for
money laundering for the purposes of financing attacks, corruption and
trafficking.

Subtitle B – Banks must now notify US Intelligence
if they see suspicious activity in bank accounts and require the reporting of
foreign currency over $10,000.  The bank
cannot be held liable for the disclosure of personal information to federal
authorities.

Subtitle C – This section deals primarily with
currency smuggling by stopping the movement of bulk currency to be sold on the
black market.  It is a criminal offense
to conceal currency over $10,000 on one’s person or in luggage.  Failure to report the currency subjects it to
forfeiture.

Title IV of Patriot Act – Protecting the Border

Subtitle
A –
The section provides for the protection of the Northern Border
with Canada by increasing the number of personnel available to monitor the
border.  This set extra pay and overtime
to Border Patrol and other enforcement personnel watching the border.  This section also appropriated more funds to
upgrade border security

Subtitle
B –
This amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to prohibit
representatives of foreign terrorist organizations from entering the US.  Their family may also be prohibiting from
entering the United States depending on the circumstances.  This is to prevent the possibility of attacks
or the collection of funds to finance future attacks.  This act also provides the language and
structure to classify terrorist organizations and what actions constitute a
terrorist attack.  The Secretary of State
has the ability to declare organizations as terrorists and this designation can
be reviewed and renewed every two years.

Subtitle B also provides for mandatory
detention provisions for aliens engaged in terrorist activity or espionage for
up to 90 days for 6 months if the detainee is confirmed to be a threat to
national security.  This process is
subject to judicial review and the number of aliens detained must be reported
to the Attorney General.  Additional
provisions required the monitoring of foreign students and the sharing of
information about potential terrorism suspects with other foreign
jurisdictions.

Subtitle
C –
This section allowed the preservation of the rights of immigrants
that have had loved ones killed as a result of terrorist acts or renewal
proceedings disrupted as a result of terrorist attacks in the Fall of 2001
(including anthrax attacks).  Two years
immediately after the attacks those who had lost loved ones could receive US
citizenship after filing a petition with the US Attorney General.

Title
V of Patriot Act – Removal of Obstacles
to Investigating Terrorism

The eight sections of this act provide
for

       
The payment of awards to those that inform on
terrorists (Section 501) or offers intelligence that allows for the significant
disruption or dismantling of a terrorist organization (Section 502)

       
Cooperation with local law enforcement by
sharing intelligence obtained from abroad to prevent attacks (Section 503)

       
Absolving educational institutions of
liability for releasing records to law enforcement (Section 507)

       
Broad powers to the Secret Service to
investigate computer fraud (Section 506)

The
section also included provisions to allow an alternative subpoena, called a
National Security Letter, which allowed the FBI and other government agencies
to force organizations turn over records to the government on particular
individuals (Section 505).  These
organizations were forbidden to challenge the NSL and were forbidden to reveal the
request due to a gag order.  The use of
SELS was challenged in Doe v. Ashcroft in 2004 and was found to be
unconstitutional and subject to stringent regulations to prevent abuse.  Doe v Ashcroft would continue through the
appointment of other attorney generals up until the present Attorney General
Eric Holder.  Federal courts finally
ruled against the government opposing the lack of a process to challenge the
subpoena and the lack of a right for the subpoenaed party to disclose the
subpoena.  The NSL is currently under
review and may proceed to the Supreme Court.

Title
VI of Patriot Act: Victims and families
of victims of terrorism

This Title provided relief funds for
families that have lost members due to terrorist attacks.  This covers emergency workers as well as the
general public.  The relief fund may
include private donors and has been expanded to include all US possessions,
including Puerto Rico and the US Pacific Territories.

Title
VII of Patriot Act: Increased information
sharing for critical infrastructure protection

This section streamlines communication
between the government and law enforcement and allows them to cross
jurisdictions to investigate terrorist conspiracies.  It further defines terrorism as a criminal
activity.

Title
VIII of Patriot Act: Terrorism criminal law

This section redefines several crimes
such as assassination, kidnapping, racketeering and cyber warfare as acts of
terror.  Specifically this Title created
a special punishment for attacking a mass transit system punishable with life
imprisonment for the death of any person.

Additional penalties included a
prohibition on harboring terrorists subject to imprisonment of up to ten years,
seizing the assets of individuals or organizations involved in terrorism and
punishing those that provided material assistance to terrorists.  The last provision was amended to clarify the
definition of “material assistance” as the original wording was broad and could
subject innocent or unknowing collaborators to unfair charges.

Title
IX of Patriot Act: Improved Intelligence

This section improves procedures to
disseminate intelligence gathered from electronic sources to the US Attorney
General in regards to investigating foreign sources. 

Title
X of Patriot Act: Miscellaneous

These are a number of unrelated
provisions including penalties for impersonating a Red Cross workers, training
foreign police organizations and studying the use of biometric information
linked to the FBI database at border security checkpoints.

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