The usa patriot act
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Class notes: The USA PATRIOT Act - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The USA PATRIOT Act. Dr. Matt Robinson Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Appalachian State University. Patriot. “one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests”. Question : Is the USA PATRIOT Act “patriotic”? Is it in our interests?. USA PATRIOT Act.

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Dr. Matt Robinson

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice

Appalachian State University

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  • “one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests”


Is the USA PATRIOT Act “patriotic”?

Is it in our interests?

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  • Stands for:

    “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”

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  • Purpose:

    “To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.”

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  • Signed into law on October 26, 2001 (45 days after 9/11/2001)

  • Overwhelmingly passed and bi-partisan (98 to 1 in Senate and 357 to 66 in House)

  • 342 pages long (did they read it?)

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  • Changes a dozen laws (e.g., FERPA, FISA)

  • Reads like a computer manual

  • “Wrong bill” (changed before the vote)

  • No conference report

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  • Some sections sunset on Dec. 31, 2005 …

  • Only 3 of the “troubling ones” sunset (Sections 213, 215, 218)

  • Never mind! (Senate and House voted to extend law!)

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PATRIOT benefits

  • Encourages and eases sharing of information between various government agencies (including FBI, CIA, local law enforcement and immigration)

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PATRIOT benefits

Easier to

“connect the dots” of

information about

potential terrorist



Did we NOT have enough evidence to see the attacks of 9/11 coming???

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  • Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General for U.S. Dept. of Transportation (1990-1996)

  • Resigned in 1996 after FAA tried to classify report detailing lax security at the nation's major airports (agents able to sneak fake bombs, hand grenades, guns and knives through metal detectors)

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Not to Mention …

  • Dozens and Dozens of warnings about planes being used as weapons against US targets!

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PATRIOT benefits

Increases funding to

patrol and secure

Northern border of the

United States

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PATRIOT benefits

Permits rewards to

combat terrorism and

provides funding

opportunities for

training of firefighters

and other first


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PATRIOT benefits

Increases ability of law

enforcement to

intercept discussions of

terror plans

(Grants greater power to

monitor telephone and Internet

conversations of suspects)

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  • Gives access to “any tangible things … books, records, papers, documents … for an investigation … provided that such investigation of a U.S. person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

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… like say buying a book from

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“A significant purpose”

must be for the

gathering of

foreign intelligence

(Changed from “the purpose”)

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Intended for use in non-

terrorist crimes against

American citizens

(Gives access to medical,

financial, library, educational,

and other personal records for

normal criminal matters)

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Forbids librarians and

business owners &

employees from

informing people that

their records have

been requested or


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Allows taps of any and

all phones of people and

monitoring of Internet


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Permits entry to homes

to seize property

without even informing

a search has taken


(“sneak and peak warrants”)

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Permits spying on

religious and political

organizations and

individuals without

any evidence of

criminal activity

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Allows detention of

people against their will

and with no access

to a lawyer

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Creates “domestic


(criminal acts dangerous to

human life meant to influence

the policy of a government by

intimidation or coercion or to

intimidate or coerce a civilian


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PATRIOT realities

  • No one outside of Justice Dept. knows how it is really being used

  • Vigorously defended by Attorney General Ashcroft/Gonzalez

  • Ashcroft 32-city tour cost taxpayers $200,000

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PATRIOT realities

  • Website claims great successes (

  • Justice Dept. report provides some evidence (July 2004 -- Report from the Field: The USA PATRIOT Act at Work)

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PATRIOT realities

  • Being used for non-

    terrorist crimes against


Settle down!

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PATRIOT realities

  • Law enforcement mislead FISA Court at least 75 times

  • Law enforcement visiting libraries

  • Law enforcement monitoring, spying on, infiltrating peace groups

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PATRIOT backlash

  • 389 towns and counties and 7 states passed resolutions to modify law (62 million Americans)

  • National League of Cities passed resolution to modify law (245 million Americans)

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PATRIOT backlash

  • House voted 309-118 to withdraw funding for “sneak and peak” warrants (9-4 in NC)

  • Sanders-Paul-Conyers-Otter-Nadler Amendment to 2005 spending bill defeated in tie (210-210)***

    *** original vote was 219-201 to pass bill

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PATRIOT backlash

  • SAFE Act supported by a diverse group of liberal and conservative groups (ACLU, ACU, ALA, GOA)

  • Major conservatives against law (Bob Barr, Dick Armey, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich)

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PATRIOT backlash

  • 95% of criminal justice experts say law passed too quickly

  • 74% say law threatens civil liberties

  • 68% believe that existing laws could be leveraged to protect the nation from terrorism

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PATRIOT backlash

  • Federal Judge Audrey Collins declared Section 805 unconstitutional (Jan. 23, 2004)

  • Federal Judge Victor Marrero declared Section 505 unconstitutional (Sept. 29, 2004)

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PATRIOT backlash

  • Federal Judge Audrey Collins declared Section 805 unconstitutional again! (Jul. 29, 2005)

  • Judge Janet Hall lifted a gag order that had been imposed on a librarian by the FBI under the USA PATRIOT Act. (September 9, 2005)

  • US Chamber of Commerce wrote letter to Senate Judiciary Committee to revise Sections 215 and 505 (October 4, 2005)

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A Final Thought …

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”