The day ingrained into everyone who is twenty-five years old or older is September 11, 2001. We all know where we were when the first plane struck the World Trade Center in New York City. Approximately a month later, a new law was passed by Congress called the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. The act tore down walls and limitations that kept the United States from obtaining necessary warrants to seek and deter any future foriegn or domestic terrorist attacks.
This act was passed to avert attacks and bring to justice those who inflict terrorist acts of violence in the United States and anywhere in the world. (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2019) It provides law enforcement the ability to analyze intelligence data, intrude upon the plots that are being formulated, and impedes terrorist acts of violence and their financing activities. (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2019) It also allows open communication between law enforcement agencies, regulators, and businesses that oversee financial transactions and a method to report any suspicious activity. (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2019)
Events took place at three locations: the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2019) President George W. Bush acted quickly after one of the worst attacks that that had ever occurred on American soil. Within days, it was announced that the perpetrator was identified as the terrorist organization Al Qaeda which had established terror cells around the world. The USA PATRIOT Act was passed by Congress on Oct 26, 2001. (History.com Editors, 2017)
United States implemented security policies and procedures to impede, disclose, and indict money laundering operations and prevent the financing of future terrorist attacks or plots. (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2019) All foreign jurisdictions, foreign banks, and any foreign overseas transactions would have a deeper inspection when suspicious activity is detected (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2019) Also, all financial businesses were required to report any suspected money laundering activity to the proper authorities. Foreign officials were prevented from exploiting personal gains from our financial system and stolen assets could no longer be sent to foreign countries. Penalties become tougher on any convicted terrorist individuals and anyone harboring or helping them. (History.com Editors, 2017) The process of sharing intelligence information across government agencies was improved and the statute of limitations for crimes related to certain terrorist attacks was removed. (History.com Editors, 2017)
The PATRIOT Act also allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigations and National Security Agency the ability to obtain warrants while bypassing the need to justify probable cause on foreign suspects. These agencies did not have to report the surveillance results after obtaining the warrant. The courts met in secret with government officials which allowed them to never be denied a search warrant. (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2019) The government was allowed to obtain a search warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for tangible evidence associated with a terrorist suspect. (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2019) Section 215 silenced all ISPs and public officials from notifying the individual who had their records inspected by the government. The act allowed the authorities to perform “sneak-and-peek” investigations. (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2019) It delayed the notification of the warrant to the citizens and could have their property inspected in secret to prevent the destruction of evidence. The act authorized search warrants on any US citizen suspected by the FBI who was providing assistance to terrorist plots or attacks. (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2019)
Authorized federal agents could use wiretaps that essentially followed specific suspects, making it easier to track individuals who would have otherwise easily avoided detection. (Dept of Justice, 2019) Surveillance was now permitted into other crimes such as offenses involving chemical weapons, developing and the operation of weapons of mass destruction, murdering Americans on foreign soil, and financing terrorism (Dept of Justice, 2019) Victims of computer hacking could now request assistance from police to monitor their systems to catch anyone not authorized from accessing their systems. Increased penalties could be served to terrorists charged with arson, energy facilities destruction, providing materials to terrorist organizations, and destroying national defense material. (Dept of Justice, 2019)
This act also broadens the scope of conspiracy charges that can be brought against the terrorists to committing mass homicides on federal property, destruction of communication equipment, sabotaging nuclear facilities, and obstructing flight crew members among other offenses. (Dept of Justice, 2019) Terrorists could be charged for crimes associated with their attacks on mass transit systems as well. (Dept of Justice, 2019) Bioterrorists were identified and could also be charged for terrorist attacks.
I would not personally propose any changes to the PATRIOT Act. In order to catch terrorists, we must use the best techniques available. This could potentially lessen some of our liberties but, in the bigger picture, will greatly reduce the possibility of another devastating attack. While many might feel that their personal liberties are being violated, not all threats stem from within our borders. It is a delicate balance between the security of our nation and protecting our personal liberties.
Living in our free country will always come with a cost directly or indirectly but when an outside influence threatens our very existence and the freedoms that we have fought for, we must react to that threat. We need to stand up for what we believe in and fight back to resist their advances to inflict fear in our hearts. Preventing another 9/11 attack whether the source is either foreign or domestic. We will prevail against all odds to defend our freedoms in the United States of America.