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The bill before me takes into account of the new realities and dangers posed by modern terrorists. It will help law enforcement to indentify, to dismantle, to disrupt and to punish terrorist before they strike." (Marcovitz, 2008) This is significant because it allows for the effective tracking of suspected terrorists activities. As a result, the overall quality and amount of intelligence gathered will allow law enforcement to determine what is taking place, before a tragedy occurs.
A third benefit of the Patriot Act is: it allows for improved coordination. A 2005 study conducted by the Justice Department showed that the Patriot Act helped intelligence / law enforcement officials to identify over 40 different terrorist organizations operating in the United States, they were able to successfully arrest 500 suspected terrorists with ties to different organizations around the world and a total of 57 people were convicted of raising money for terrorist organizations under the act. (Marcovitz, 2008) This is significant because it shows how the increased amounts of coordination helped to improve the intelligence community and law enforcements ability to successfully track / monitor terrorist activities. Prior to the enactment of the Patriot Act, such kinds of cooperation were unheard of. This is because what one agency would place as a priority another more than likely may not. Once this takes place, it allows suspected terrorists to operate freely. A good example of this can be seen with one of the September 11th highjackers (Khalid al Midhar). He was a Saudi Arabian that was identified by an American intelligence agent through a photo that was taken in Malaysia (19 days before the terrorist attack). He crossed checked the name and the photo with the State Department, where he found out that he had entered the country legally. A report was sent to the FBI to immediately arrest al Midhar, based upon suspicions that he could be involved in terrorist activity. The FBI placed less of a priority on the information and only passed it onto other intelligence officers in the Bureau, not the criminal investigative staff (much less send out an all points bulletin to other law enforcement agencies). Instead, he was allowed to board one of the airplanes used as a part of the September 11th attacks. (Marcovitz, 2008) This is significant because the rivalries and lack of communication between the different agencies would only contribute to the problem, as one of the suspected terrorists was allowed in the country. Yet, law enforcement simply overlooked the fact that there is a dangerous terrorist on the loose, by not passing the information on to other law enforcement agencies. This shows how some kind of changes were necessary to the nation's intelligence laws, as various terrorists can use these obvious weaknesses to exploit the system to cause destruction.
The Patriot Act is Overstepping Legal Boundaries
The critics of the Patriot Act make a number of different arguments about how it is overstepping legal boundaries or possibly over reaching. Where they say there are a number of different ways that such incidents can occur the most notable would include: it invades the right to privacy and it can lead to other abuses. When looking at the first criticism of the Act, it invades the right to privacy; the critics fear that this provision can be used to go after innocent people. Where, if a suspected terrorist visits the home of a friend and was having a social visit with them, law enforcement could use the provisions of the Patriot Act to spy on this person. Even though, they have no idea that their guest was involved in terrorism and did not discuss anything relating to terrorism. The fact that they inadvertently knew a terrorist is justification to have law enforcement conduct a roving wire tap on innocent people. (Marcovitz, 2008)
The second criticism of the Patriot Act, it can lead to other abuses, this has stoked fears among many civil libertarians that the various provisions can be used by law enforcement, to engage in activities that are beyond the intent of the law. Where, over the course of time as the various tools of the Act are being utilized in other investigations, they can become more common in matters away from terrorism (such as investigating suspected drug dealers etc.). This, the critics argue can lead to other situations where the civil rights of the country is slowly taken away by the broad scope of the powers given to law enforcement officials. Where, they can investigate activist of groups such as Greenpeace, who are committed to the environment, yet some of their actions could be considered terrorism (such as interfering with whaling ships etc.). This is troubling because Greenpeace is not considered to be a terrorist group; however, the broad language of the Act allows the government to monitor what they are up to. Over the course of time, the critics believe that such abuses will become more common. (Marcovitz, 2008) a recent example of these fears can be seen with information that was released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, where it was revealed that the different provisions of the Patriot Act were used in a number of criminal investigations including: the monitoring of drug traffickers, child pornographers, white collar criminals, spies, corrupt foreign leaders and money laundering. With Eric Minceberg the legal director at People for the American Way saying, "What the Justice Department has really done is to get things put into the law that has been on prosecutors' wish lists for years. They've used terrorism as a guise to expand law enforcement powers into areas that are totally unrelated to terrorism." (Lichtblau, 2003) This is significant because is underscores the legitimate concerns that civil libertarians have over the issue of increased government powers.
However, what they are not telling you is that terrorism has become increasingly interconnected. With many of the different investigations that have been conducted in other criminal matters on the surface not appearing to have anything to do with terrorist activity. Yet, when you examine the issue a little further you could see that terrorism is directly tied into some of the above mentioned activities. This is because various terrorist organizations will use illegal activities to fund their operations. A good example of this can be seen with the Taliban, where a United Nations report showed that Afghanistan was the largest producer of heroin in the world. The situation has become so large that not far from the capital of Kabul are endless fields of poppy (the plant used to make heroine). (Rubin, 2006) This is problematic because the large amounts of profits that are being made from the crops; are being used to buy influence within the Afghan government. With one drug smuggler commenting about the overall levels of corruption by saying, "I simply make a phone call. And my voice is known to the ministers, of course. They are in my network. Every network has a big man supporting them in the government." This is significant because it underscores how the critics on this point are somewhat misguided. Where, the profits from the sale of illegal drugs have become so severe that it is helping to increase the overall stability of Afghanistan. In plain economics, this allows the Taliban to pay their fighters $8.00 per day. This is double what the Afghan Army is paying their soldiers, which is $4.00. (Bhonsle, 2007) as a result, the Patriot Act has been used to track drug traffickers who could be working with terrorist organizations, to fund their operations through the sale and import of drugs.
Clearly, the Patriot Act has had a positive impact upon society. This is because the different provisions of the law have allowed law enforcement to effectively go after those individuals and organizations that are involved in terrorist activity. The way that the overall effectiveness of the law is being measured is by seeing how easily or difficult conditions have been in coordinating and conducting terrorist activities. Since there has been no major terrorist attack on American soil since the 911 terrorist attacks, shows that the different provisions of the law must be working. This is despite the fact that many critics worry that the general language could allow law enforcement to track and monitor the activities of law abiding citizens. However, when you look at how the world is changing, thanks to improvements in technology and strategies of the different terrorist groups; this shows that the Act allows law enforcement to adapt to these changes. Evidence of this can be seen with reports that the law was used to monitor the activities of drug traffickers. Where, critics will claim that such activities have nothing to do with terrorism. However, when you look a little further, organizations like the Taliban are growing, producing and distributing heroine. This is problematic because it…[continue]
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