U.S. Government Discuss the 2004 Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The Department can then choose to act upon such intelligence by identifying and possibly detaining foreign and domestic individuals who would act violently toward the U.S., and who would seek to compromise the safety and security of the nation.

With the development of the Department of Homeland Security, the nation might then feel more safe and therefore be less affected by terrorism, when it is curtailed or limited by actions, based on collaborative intelligence. The Department can and should act to determine the threat level of individuals who are entering the U.S. For the purpose of terrorist acts or acts that would support or further terrorist motives and support. This may mean some rights of individuals might seem challenged, mainly through security measures and yet it should ultimately limit the number of individual acts that take place, to further a terrorist cause, before it takes many lives.

The department of Homeland Security, in its charge to control the threats to the U.S. associated with terrorism, must resolve to challenge internal and external threats of terrorism through proactive but not overarching strategies. Seeking to control terrorist threats through intelligence gathering and reasonable action taken against individual terrorists is an essential aspect of the need for such a department among other, including military, agencies that might have done similar work in the past.

4. Describe the U.S.A. Patriot Act of 2001. Have there been constitutional challenges to this act? How did the Courts rule on these challenges?

It is not commonly known that the U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 is actually an anagram for a much longer title, that has little to do with the strongly emotional word, patriot. "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001" the later is obviously a mouthful and was therefore shortened to a highly charged and emotional word.

The act is a collection of expanded rights of U.S. agencies to collect, catalogue and act upon intelligence (in arrest, detention and litigation) in a manner that would have previously been in violation of countless privacy laws which have been upheld by the U.S. In common and criminal law for centuries.

Though the act does not give U.S. agencies cart blanch with regard to collecting intelligence it does strengthen the rights of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to gather information. The agencies then have the right to tap phone lines, collect and act upon information found in personal emails, recorded personal conversations and many other scenarios. The intentions of the Act are good, but in reality it leaves a lot to be desired, as its constitutionality and supposed challenge to traditional American Civil Liberties has been questioned from the start.

The questions of constitutionality of the act largely stem from its allowance of what are called National Security Letters, which are basically a subpoena for information that can be issued by any of the agencies authorized to do so under the Act and are often issued without informed cause. The issuance of a NSL results in the release of information by private companies, such as internet service providers, cell phone companies and other largely intelligence-based companies and because they are non-specific end up releasing, collecting and cataloging millions of unrelated bits of personal (largely non-essential) information to national security agencies. The ACLU has challenged the constitutionality of this by claiming that the use of NSLs violates the 1st and 4th amendments to the constitution. The Supreme Court struck down the use of NSLs in part, creating a situation where the reaffirmation of the Act as a whole had to be amended to contain greater controls including the right of the company or entity being asked for the information release to request more directed answers as to the threat the information might pose and therefore better direct their decision to release information or protect its user/customers.

The U.S. Patriot act is a well intended piece of legislation that attempts to make the U.S. A safer place by broadening the rights of agencies to access and act on intelligence regarding possible terrorism. In a large part the Act is under-funded and viewed by many as underdeveloped. Challenges to the Act are frequent and often leveled at the constitutionality of violating individual civil rights without due cause or proof of intent or actual criminal action.

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