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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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 • Stands for: “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”
USA PATRIOT Act • 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.”
PATRIOT facts • 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?)
PATRIOT facts • Changes a dozen laws (e.g., FERPA, FISA) • Reads like a computer manual • “Wrong bill” (changed before the vote) • No conference report
PATRIOT facts • 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!) http://www.bordc.org/threats/legislation/index.php#reauth
PATRIOT benefits • Encourages and eases sharing of information between various government agencies (including FBI, CIA, local law enforcement and immigration)
PATRIOT benefits Easier to “connect the dots” of information about potential terrorist threats Question: Did we NOT have enough evidence to see the attacks of 9/11 coming???
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)
Not to Mention … • Dozens and Dozens of warnings about planes being used as weapons against US targets! http://www.justiceblind.com/airplanes.html
PATRIOT benefits Increases funding to patrol and secure Northern border of the United States
PATRIOT benefits Permits rewards to combat terrorism and provides funding opportunities for training of firefighters and other first responders
PATRIOT benefits Increases ability of law enforcement to intercept discussions of terror plans (Grants greater power to monitor telephone and Internet conversations of suspects)
PATRIOT fears • 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.”
PATRIOT fears … like say buying a book from Amazon.com?
PATRIOT fears “A significant purpose” must be for the gathering of foreign intelligence (Changed from “the purpose”)
PATRIOT fears 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)
PATRIOT fears Forbids librarians and business owners & employees from informing people that their records have been requested or seized
PATRIOT fears Allows taps of any and all phones of people and monitoring of Internet use
PATRIOT fears Permits entry to homes to seize property without even informing a search has taken place (“sneak and peak warrants”)
PATRIOT fears Permits spying on religious and political organizations and individuals without any evidence of criminal activity
PATRIOT fears Allows detention of people against their will and with no access to a lawyer
PATRIOT fears Creates “domestic terrorism” (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 population)
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
PATRIOT realities • Website claims great successes (www.lifeandliberty.gov) • Justice Dept. report provides some evidence (July 2004 -- Report from the Field: The USA PATRIOT Act at Work) http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot/doj_report.pdf
PATRIOT realities • Being used for non- terrorist crimes against Americans Settle down!
PATRIOT realities • Law enforcement mislead FISA Court at least 75 times • Law enforcement visiting libraries • Law enforcement monitoring, spying on, infiltrating peace groups
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)
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
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)
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
PATRIOT backlash • Federal Judge Audrey Collins declared Section 805 unconstitutional (Jan. 23, 2004) • Federal Judge Victor Marrero declared Section 505 unconstitutional (Sept. 29, 2004)
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)
A Final Thought … “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”