Sample Research Paper on The USA Patriot Act

Abstract

Terrorism is a major issue that many countries deal with. The United stated have not been left behind either. They too like most countries struggle to keep their citizens safe by averting such atrocities. As such, the government came up with the USA PATRIOT Act to help in this process. The law awarded extra powers to the federal and state authorities in order to fight terrorism and related crime. Most people have seen this move as trying to infringe on the civil rights, and liberties of the citizens. The article seeks to prove that the act solely aims at protecting citizens

The USA Patriot Act

Introduction

Terrorist activities are major problems that most countries all over the world are struggling with. Therefore, it is in order to state that terrorism is a global issue that many government, especially those related to the United States of America constantly deal with. Bomb threat alerts are issued everyday in most countries of the world. Such warnings happen in both developed and developing countries. Therefore, when the United States of America experienced the world terrorist attack in 2001, the government had no choice but to come up with a law that had stringent and tough measures of dealing with such atrocity. Consequently, The USA PATRIOT Act was formulated.

The USA PATRIOT Act is an acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” (FinCEN, 2014). This law aims at recognizing terror suspect early before they carry out terrorism activities. The act also suspends all due process whenever an individual is suspected of terrorism acts. The bill awarded the government and law enforcers extra powers to deal with tourist activities (Department of Justice, 2008). For example, they could access online and other forms of communication from individuals without letting them know immediately. Most people have viewed this move as being too harsh. They argue that the bill pose potential harms to civil liberties and constitutional freedoms (Schulhofer, 2009). As such, this article aims at proving that the bill does not pose any potential harm to civil liberties and constitutional freedoms of the American citizens without losing focus on the issue of privacy. In fact, the bill aims at protecting the people from terrorism activities and other similar atrocities.

 

Literature Review

As stated above, the USA PATRIOT Act is the short form for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.” It is a bill that was passed by the government of the United States to help fight terrorist activities, thereby protecting the American citizens. The bill was passed without consulting citizens due to the urgent need to curb terrorism attacks in the country, following the November eleventh bombing of the twin towers in 2001. This particular reason has made most people believe that the law aims at reducing or rather causing harm to individual liberties and freedom of American people (Schulhofer, 2009).

Most people have tried to criticize the act by stating that it awards a lot of  powers to the government and other law enforcement agencies much authority to carry out investigations.  The critics also states that the bill seeks to infringe on individual constitution rights and liberties. They feel that the law poses more harm to citizens than it should. However, the discussion below aims at proving that the PATRIOT bill has no intentions of infringing on any persons right and liberties. The law only aims at exerting powers that will make it possible for the government to deter terrorist activities, and hence protect the American citizens.

However, it is important for people to note that the authorities came up with the bill with good intentions. The main objective of the act is to prevent and punish terrorist actions in the United States, including atrocities that occur in the world, and to improve law enforcement investigatory techniques (Department of Justice, 2008). Other functions of the bill include awarding extra power to law enforcers, to carry out activities, such as strengthening the strategies used by the United States in stopping, identifying, and taking legal actions on global money laundering and activities that finance terrorism. The law also subjects foreign jurisdictions, overseas monetary institutions, and categories of worldwide undertakings or similar kinds of accounts that are vulnerable to illegal use by criminals to special and thorough investigations.

Such investigations are special since the government has the right to conduct them without informing the involved entities. The bill will also make it possible for lawmakers to require all the necessary record of the monetary services industry to report any probable illegal financial transactions that they might come across. It also helps the government to strengthen procedures that will inhibit use of the United States financial system for personal profit by corrupt foreign officials (Department of Justice, 2008).  Finally, it allows the government to facilitate the repatriation of stolen properties to the citizens of nations to which such property belong.

It is important to note that America is a nation made up of people from all dimensions of the globe. As such, the country needs a law that will improve how they enforce laws and investigate any violation of such laws. Secondly, terrorism activities need funding, and the chances that such money originates from within the country is very high (FinCEN, 2014). Therefore, seeking to come up with a bill that helps law enforcers to investigate and prosecute those who finance terrorist activities through money laundering in an out of the nation is important. The funds used for supporting such atrocities may as well come from within the country since there are many foreign financial organizations in America. As such, it is in order that the government investigates movement of money in and out of the country. They also need to know the purpose for which such funds are intended to perform. Any suspicious use or acquisition must be investigated to help fight terrorism.

The financial service industry must as well be subjected to intense scrutiny and investigations since they are involved in opening accounts for both locals and foreigners without investigating into their past (CRF, 2014). It is therefore the work of the government to find out and punish individuals who intend to use American financial institution for malicious acts. This may as well help in preventing entry of smuggled goods, and other foreign assets into the country. Therefore, the government will be able to prevent unlawful use of the American financial institution for individual gains (USA Patriot Act, 2013).

The law allows the government agencies to conduct such investigations secretively by having resources, such as software that can access such information. If this investigation was to be made known to all financial institutions, chances are that those involved in money laundering would make sure that they do not make the necessary information available to the government. Some other institutions would also close similar accounts, and even obtain official documents that make them immune to such investigation (American Government, 2013).

These actions will evidently make it impossible for law enforcers to acquire the necessary information for fighting terrorism. This will also make the country more vulnerable to terrorism activities. This law gives powers, such as allowing law enforcement authorities and the government to access financial records of various institutions alleged of taking part in illegal financial acts, or those that finance terrorist activities (Freedom House, 2014). It also grants government powers to gain access to personal communications of those involved in terrorism. They can also search individual premises in order to find out if they are involved in terrorist actions.

Confidentially investigating financial activities in the country is a sure way of curbing financial aids to terrorist by foreign banks. There are some banks called Foreign Shell banks, which are not subject to government regulations. They are therefore considered to pose an unreasonable risk of being involved in money laundering activities or financing terrorist (American Government, 2013). They therefore make it easy for terrorists to gain access to the financial systems of America. The USA PATRIOT bill thus makes it possible for law enforcers to gain access to such banks, monitor their financial movement, and find out where they get their finances and to whom they avail it. Any suspicious transactions within such banks must be treated with utmost care, and be investigated thoroughly to find out whether they take part in financing terrorist or laundering money.

Communication is a major way of passing information from one person to the other, and from one region to the other. Just like normal individuals, terrorists need credible information before they can attack anywhere. It is through communication that they can receive such information about the country. The information may be availed to terrorist using communication modes, such as phone calls, emails, fax, and face to face conversation (Doyle, 2002).  There is a federal communication privacy act that aim at protecting the secrecy of face to face communication, personal telephone calls, and computer communications. This law prohibits any act of eavesdropping in such conversations using electronic devices or any other means. It however allows the authorities to discover and intercept criminal communications. The act makes this possible by giving the law enforcers a narrowly defined procedure of using electronic surveillance, as the last resort to major criminal communication (Doyle, 2002).

The federal laws do not give authorities enough powers to secretly investigate communications. However, the congress came up with the terrorism act that would award them such powers. The law awards law enforcement authorities added powers to privately pursue and interrupt all methods of communication for the sake of gathering foreigners, and enforcing laws in the country. This was another important move granted by the bill, and it is an important key to carrying out as well as stopping terrorist activities. Such communications usually come from the United States to the terrorist country of origin and vice versa (USA PATRIOT Act, 2013).

Citizens of America should not be alarmed by the fact that the federal and state government has the right to privately access their personal conversations. This law only applies to individuals who are alleged of playing a role in planning terrorist activity. The government will definitely access such information for further investigations into what the individuals are planning. Such information will be used to know the sender and the receiver of the information. They also get to know what these individuals intends to do with such information (American Government, 2013). The government may intend to conduct the investigation until the time they deem appropriate and have enough evidence on the suspect. They then move to stop such communications and arraign the suspects in custody. This will help them in preventing terror attacks in the country, thereby protecting the American citizens.

Through communications, terrorist are able to obtain a map of their target destination. Such articles may be made available by some citizens or foreigners living in the country. They can secret pass maps and direction to each other through emails. Pictures of targeted buildings or locations may as well be passed in a similar manner. Therefore, it is important for the government to investigate and intercept such communications before the suspects can carry out their plans (Department of Justice, 2008).  Technology in the country has therefore played major roles in curbing crime suspects by accessing telephone calls, emails, and video conversations. Using technologies, such as voice mails, emails, and other recorded information also help the government in fighting terrorism and other related crimes (CRF, 2014).

For instance, officers have been able to avert a great number of crimes by accessing phone calls of alleged bomb threat. They have also been able to confiscate videos of criminals planning their activities, and hence stopping the same. Using the video also gives the police a clue of the targeted areas. They can then increase security and ask people to be vigilant and report any individual or a group of people whom they suspect to be planning any malicious attacks (Kashan, 2010). The proposed act also enabless law enforcement officers to use technology in curbing terrorist crimes. They use technology to enable them locate where the alleged crime suspect is based. Use of technology can also help in stopping electronic funding of terrorist activities. It may as well help in identifying terror groups, and eliminating or deporting them back to their respective countries.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) (2014) argues that the law infringes on people’s privacy. It should be clear after reviewing the provision that the officers will only look into and access private conversations of those suspected of planning terrorist activities, and related atrocities. The officers will also track any suspected money laundering activities. Clearly, none of these actions come from innocent Americans. An innocent person cannot be found in possession of information of terror linked information. Any individual linked to terrorist activities is an outright suspect, and is guilty until proven otherwise. Therefore, it is safe to say that the law aims at protecting Americans from various forms of activities that impact negatively on their lives (American Government, 2013). If such protections come with the price of people making their communications available to the government, then they should not worry at all.

Some law professionals have also refuted the bill as being able to allow law enforcers to search the homes of Americans who have not participated in any criminal activities (EFF, 2014). Citizens should remember that usually, the masterminds of criminal action do not take a public appearance. Some people make bombs and other explosives in their houses and hire criminals to transport them. The only method that the government can use to flush such hidden criminals out of their dens is by flushing them out of their houses and hiding areas. Such people might not have publicly participated in criminal activities, but the fact that they are actively involved in the production and provision of such materials make them criminals (American Government, 2013).

This law also works to deter terrorist activities by allowing the government to add samples to DNA databases for people who have been imprisoned of any crime of violence. Terrorism is an act of violence; hence it is possible for criminals who have taken part in violent activities to be involved in terrorism. Such individuals may also be in possession of materials needed by terrorists, and in turn supply them with the same. Adding samples of DNA to the records of such individuals may also help in fighting other related crimes. As it is seen, the act is not only about terrorism, but also aim at fighting other crimes (USA PATRIOT Act, 2013). Having such added information also enable the government to work together with other international crime fighting organizations to arrest those who carried out terrorist act and then left the country. This is because the act allows government officials to carry out international surveillance.

Terrorist activities are not just a threat to the government, but also to citizens. This is quite evident in the September eleventh attacks. Therefore, the government, which is the law, does not need any court order to conduct examination of people suspected of planning to execute such actions. Therefore, citizens should not feel that the law is granting more powers to law authorities since all these is aimed at their own protection and peace in the country (USA PATRIOT Act, 2013). The USA PATRIOT Act makes it possible for the government and its officials to track terrorist in their foreign countries, and ensure that they are punished for such crimes. Those found engaging in such crimes in the American soil will be punished according to the jurisdictions of the United States or they will be deported back to their homes.

Officers are awarded the powers to use surveillance to access and monitor terrorist activities in foreign countries and find out their impact to the citizens of America, and the country as a whole (USA PATRIOT Act, 2013). The act also incorporates some international laws that allow confidential foreign investigations. It is significant to acknowledge that this is a bold move since some countries are involved in the manufacture and assembly of nuclear weapons that pose threats not only to the American government but also to its people. It is therefore the duty of the American government to have measures in place that they can use to counter such actions. Therefore, the people of the nation should uphold the law and see that the government had their best security interest in mind when they came up with the bill. Since its inception, the government has been able to avert various terrorist related activities (GPO, 2001). They have also been able to eliminate some major criminal master minds of the current generation (American Government, 2013).

Conclusion

The USA PATRIOT Act, which is the initials for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.” helps the government to fight terrorism by performing actions, such as strengthening the strategies used by the United States in interrupting, examining, and punishing those involved in international financial  laundering and funding of terrorism. It subjects foreign jurisdictions, overseas financial institutions, and classes of international undertakings or similar kinds of accounts that are susceptible to criminal abuse to special and thorough investigations among others. The law does not pose harm to civil liberties and constitutional freedoms.

 

 

References

American Government. (2013). Civil liberties and civil rights. Retrieved from http://www.ushistory.org/gov/10.asp

CRF. (2014). The Patriot Act: What Is the Proper Balance between National Security and Individual Rights? Retrieved from http://www.crf-usa.org/america-responds-to-terrorism/the-patriot-act.html

Department of Justice (2008). The USA PATRIOT Act: Preserving Life and Liberty. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/archive/ll/highlights.htm

Doyle, C. (2002). The USA PATRIOT Act.  Retrieved from http://fas.org/irp/crs/RS21203.pdf

FinCEN, (2014). The USA PATRIOT Act. Retrieved from https://w2.eff.org/patriot/20020925_patriot_act.php

Freedom house (2014). The Civil Liberties Implications of Counterterrorism Policies: Full Chapter. Retrieved from http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/todays-american-how-free/civil-liberties-implications-counterterrorism-policies-full-chapter#.U8wEIJSSxmg

Kashan, S. (2010). The USA PATRIOT Act. Impact on freedom and civil liberties. Retrieved from http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1123&context=essai

GPO (2001). Public law act. Retrieved from http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ56/pdf/PLAW-107publ56.pdf

Schulhofer, A. (2009). The USA PATRIOT Act

USA Patriot Act (2013). Financial crime enforcement network. Retrieved from http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/patriot/