- Suggest an additional benefit or criticism of the U.S. Patriot Act.
- Provide additional information on the country a colleague selected to compare to the United States, and explain the significance of this information. Respond to Harold as if you’re having a conversation with him. A few sentences and a question
Benefits and Criticisms of the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act
The U.S.A. PATRIOT Act (the Act) provided numerous benefits to aid federal law enforcement in the fight against terrorism. It expanded the reach of search warrants, updated laws to meet evolving technology, increased penalties for terrorism and supporting terrorism, and created several new laws to aid in detecting and stopping terrorist activities (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.).
One of the primary benefits of the Act is that it took many tools, such as wiretapping, roving wiretaps, and records searches, that federal authorities already had and made them available to use in anti-terrorism investigations. Prior to the Act, these tools were only available from drug investigations or organized crime investigations (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.).
The primary criticisms of the Act are that some members of congress and many citizens believed that the expansion of authority given to federal authorities was too great. The main fear was that the expanded level of authority would encroach too much on the privacy rights and the civil rights of American citizens. One specific example is the expansion of technology, such as roving wiretaps (Hess & Orthmann, 2011). Roving wiretaps follow a person rather than a location or specific device, so a wiretap warrant could cover multiple phones that a terrorism suspect might be using (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.).
Example of a Policy Created by the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act
What I think was the greatest benefit of the Act is that it changed the policy so that it allowed information sharing between federal agencies, which had previously been a violation of the law (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.). One example of this is the case of the “Lackawanna Six” in New York. These were people who lived in Lackawanna, New York who had traveled to Afghanistan to receive training from al Qaeda. They were suspected of associating with known terrorists but were also suspected of other criminal activity. The FBI had to open two separate investigations so they could utilize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for the investigations into terrorist threats. Another investigation was opened to investigate the other criminal activity. Two groups were conducting simultaneous but separate investigations in which the two groups were not allowed to share information. The investigation was stalled until the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act was passed. Once the two groups of investigators, along with local law enforcement, were able to share information, charges were filed against six people, all of whom plead guilty (Hess & Orthmann, 2011).
I fully support this policy change because different agencies are likely to have bits of information, but none of them may have all the relevant information. Different agencies have different missions, so they focus on different areas and they have different sources of information. In such a situation, none of the agencies could take any action because they all lacked sufficient information. Now that these agencies openly share information, the bits of information may be combined to create enough intelligence for a response to be formulated. One example of such a cooperative effort is the “Virginia Jihad” case, which was remarkable similar to the “Lackawanna Six” case. With the use of shared information, six individuals were arrested and three were convicted (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.).
Difference Between the Changes in Policy Between the U.S. and Israel
Following the 9/11 terrorist attack, the United States formulated a coordinated response though the implementation of the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, linking numerous entities under the Department of Homeland Security and carefully planning responses to terrorism guilty (Hess & Orthmann, 2011).
One would think that with its long history of fighting terrorism, Israel would have developed the most effective policy for combatting terrorism. Israel has experienced more casualties from terrorism than any other country and has been subject to terrorist attacks since before its official inception. Despite this, Israel does not have a comprehensive policy regarding response to terrorism (Freilich, 2017).
Israel’s position is that terrorism can never be eradicated, but only be reduced to an acceptable level. Rather than having a comprehensive policy, the response to each incident is formulated for that particular instance and is poorly coordinated. They have, however, implemented several protective features, largely with the assistance of American financial assistance. Israel has constructed a barrier along its borders, which has effectively reduced cross border terrorism. The greatest threat that Israel faces today is from rocket attacks from Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel has installed two rocket defense systems; the Iron Dome, a short-range system; and Magic Wand, a longer-range system (Freilich, 2017).
Beyond the defense systems, Israel has also established security checkpoints to inhibit terrorists from traveling through the country. Israel also conducts ongoing operations against terrorists, inhibit weapons transfers to terrorist organizations, conducts surveillance operations, and targets specific individuals in leadership positions in terrorist organizations for assassination. Additionally, Israel has asked everyone to install a hardened safe room in their home to protect against rocket attacks (Freilich, 2017). While many of the actions taken by Israel are similar to those taken by the United States. The application has been sporadic and haphazard. Many of the steps discussed here would be considered far too invasive to be generally accepted by the American public.
Freilich, C. D. (2017). Israel’s counter-terrorism policy: How effective? Terrorism and Political Violence, 29(2), 359–376. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1080/09546553.2015.1044602
Hess, K. & Orthmann, C. (2011). Police Operations: Theory and Practice (6th ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning. ISBN-13: 978-1-285-05262-5.
U.S. Department of Justice. (n.d.). Highlights of the USA Patriot Act. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/archive/ll/highlights.htm