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Patriot-Act-Resources

VIEWS: 41 PAGES: 5

									Reading 1:
The Patriot Act and some of its controversial provisions
         On June 8, 2004 an FBI agent asked for a list of people who had checked out a
biography of Osama bin Laden at the Deming, Washington Library," Jean Airoldi, a Deming
librarian, wrote in an article. After the library's attorney asked the FBI why it wanted such a list,
the Bureau answered that a Deming Library patron had informed it of these words written in the
bin Laden biography:

"If the things I 'm doing is considered a crime, then let history be my witness that I am a criminal.
Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded by God." A Google
search revealed that Osama bin Laden is quoted as saying words almost identical to these in a
1998 interview.

         The library trustees refused to turn over the list and issued the following statement: "It is
our job to protect the right of the people to obtain the books and other materials they need to form
and express ideas. If the government can easily obtain records of the books that our patrons are
borrowing, they will not feel free to request the books they want. Who would check out a
biography of bin Laden knowing that this might attract the attention of the FBI?"
After the FBI obtained a subpoena to force the library to turn over the list, the trustees decided to
fight the order in court to overturn it. Fifteen days later the FBI withdrew its demand.
         The FBI was acting under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act (Providing Appropriate
Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) passed by Congress on October 25, 2001,
and signed into law by President Bush six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This act gave the
FBI power, under Section 215, secretly to obtain records from libraries as well as any business
the agency regards as important for a national security investigation. The FBI does not have to
explain to the court why the people whose book-borrowing list or business records it seeks are
being investigated. Librarians and others are forbidden from telling anyone about such an FBI
order.
Before 9/11 the government had the power to subpoena library and bookstore records but had to
reveal its reasons to a court. The Patriot Act requires officials seeking such information to get
permission from a court but does not require that they state their reasons. As Joan Airoldi
concluded in her article, if the FBI had not dropped its request, I "would not have been able to tell
this story." (USA Today, 5/18/05)
         The Patriot Act is a lengthy, detailed, and, in its language, difficult law to understand.
Passed after the 9/11 attacks shocked Americans into an understanding of how vulnerable the
U.S. is to terrorism, the law permits a range of governmental actions that invade individual
privacy, often in secret ways: to monitor e-mail and voice-mail messages; to gather personal
information and records from doctors, libraries, banks, and other institutions without having to
demonstrate to a court any evidence of criminal behavior; to obtain nationwide search warrants
and search homes without immediately informing residents; to imprison non-citizens without
charge and indefinitely; to deny a foreigner entry into the U.S. without any explanation; to freeze
the financial assets of an organization without producing evidence it has done something wrong.
Sixteen provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to "sunset" this year. This means that they will
expire if Congress does not reauthorize them. It is those provisions, especially Sections 215 and
213, that civil liberties advocates insist are violations of the Bill of Rights. Section 213, called "the
sneak and peek provision" by opponents, permits investigators to get a warrant to search a home
and to delay telling its owners about it. Section 215 allows the FBI to order any person or entity to
turn over "any tangible things," so long as the FBI specifies that the order is "for an authorized
investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."

        The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes both provisions. In arguing against
Section 213, it points to a Justice Department warrant and secret search last year of the home of
Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim lawyer in Oregon. The search was based on what turned out to be
an inaccurate fingerprint match that connected him to the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The
Justice Department said that they have also used secret warrants in cases involving child
pornography, drug dealing, and organized crime that have nothing to do with terrorism. (New
York Times, 4/5/05)
          Bob Barr, a conservative and former Republican Congressional representative, joins the
ACLU in its opposition to Sections 213 and 215. He said "the government should have to actually
make out a bare bones case that they believe that a particular target of an investigation has
actually done something wrongÖbefore they should be able to start issuing orders and
subpoenas to gather information on that person. It's far too easy for the government to go to a
library or your doctor's officeÖand get your private information." (PBS: Now, 5/6/05)
          A supporter of Section 215 wrote," Congressional testimony revealed that some of the
Sept. 11 terrorists who hijacked the plane that crashed into the Pentagon used computers in
public libraries weeks before the attack. We cannot allow libraries to become safe havens for
criminals or terrorists to perform research or communicate with each other or plan their attacks."
(San Francisco Chronicle, 5/9/05)
          In support of Section 213, a writer argued, "Let's say the FBI wants to plumb [lead 9/11
terrorist] Mohammad Atta's hard drive for evidenceÖ.If a federal agent shows up at the door and
says, 'Mr. Atta, we have a search warrant for your hard drive, which we suspect contains
information about the structure and purpose of your cell,' guess what happens next. Mr. Atta tells
his cronies back in Hamburg and Afghanistan: 'They're on to us; destroy your filesÖ." The
government can delay its notice to a suspect only for "a reasonable period of time." (Dallas News,
4/19/05)
In an official statement, the Justice Department said, "the USA Patriot Act has served as an
invaluable tool for law enforcement and intelligence communities in the war on terror."
          On March 9, President Bush signed into law the USA Patriot Improvement and
Reauthorization Act. It renewed without change most of the provisions Congress passed in 2001.
The president called it "a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the
American people."
          One change exempted most libraries from FBI demands for lists of books checked out by
patrons. But libraries are required to submit to such demands for internet and email records.
          The reauthorization bill also "sunsets," after four years, two other provisions in the
original legislation: 1) FBI authority to conduct "roving wiretaps" of suspects with multiple phones
and email devices and 2) the government's power to seize records of businesses and
universities. This provision now makes it possible for those in charge of such records to consult a
lawyer.
          While the Justice Department hailed the new "safeguards for liberty," others, like law
professor David Cole of Georgetown University, declared the changes to be "minor" and "a bitter
disappointment for civil liberties" supporters. (The Nation, 4/3/06)
Most newspaper and TV news reports of the reauthorization of the Patriot Act did not include
coverage of President Bush's "signing statement." Presidents have made such statements to
describe their interpretation of the law they are signing. But President Bush's statement went
further:
"The executive branch shall construe the provisions of [the reauthorization of the Patriot Act] that
call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch" (that is, the Senate and the
House of Representatives) "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to
supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the disclosure of which could
impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the
performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."
          In short, the president's signing statement declared that he has the power to ignore the
requirement in the reauthorized Patriot Act that Congress is to be kept informed about how the
FBI is using its expanded police powers. Representatives of groups like the American Civil
Liberties Union and some senators objected strenuously to the statement, which they regard as a
violation of the constitution. Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat, VT) said that the president's
signing statement represented "nothing short of a radical effort to manipulate the constitutional
separation of powers and evade accountability and responsibility for fulfilling the law."
Excerpted From: The     Patriot Act,Terrorism & the Bill of Rights
                                         By Alan Shapiro
                         http://www.teachablemoment.org/high/patriotact.html




Reading 2:
Other issues raised by the Patriot Act
          "I've read a good bit of it [the Patriot Act]," said Jeremy Paul, a professor and associate
dean for research at the University of Connecticut School of Law, "and in a certain way it's
virtually impossible for even a lawyer to actually grasp the Patriot Act in its entirety. Our laws
ought not to be written like static on the radio. They ought to produce a melody. How can
members of the public determine what laws are a threat to democratic principles when they can't
even read them?" (New York Times, 4/25/05)
Because of both its difficulty and its length (324 pages), very few people have read the Patriot
Act. That includes most, if not all, of the Congressional legislators who approved it and President
Bush, who signed it into law.
          One result is that critics have focused their attention on Sections 213 and 215. But there
are a number of other provisions (which are not being sunsetted this year) that David Cole, a law
professor at Georgetown University, finds even more troubling.
While Patriot Act proponents often insist that there have been no abuses of the act, Cole argues
that "the law's immigration provisions have clearly been abused." He notes that the Patriot Act:
      permits the government to deny entry to the U.S. to foreigners on the basis of what they
          have said rather than on what they have done. Example: Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss
          professor and a major Islamic thinker, was offered an important position at Notre Dame
          University. But the job was effectively denied him when the U.S. government revoked his
          visa for something he saidóbut did not tell him what that was. Professor Ramadan was
          one of the first Muslim scholars to condemn the 9/11 attacks.
      authorizes deportation of permanent non-citizen residents of the U.S. who have
          supported political groups that the government opposes. Example: An Indian man who
          set up a tent for religious prayer and food was deported because unnamed "terrorist
          group" members allegedly came to services in the tent.
         allows foreigners in the U.S. to be sent to prison without their being charged with any
          crime. Example: By the end of November 2001, hundreds of non-citizens, most of them
          from the Middle East, were arrested, but only a small number officially charged with any
          offenses. Most of the charges that were made against them were minor, such as failure
          to report a change of address or overstaying a visa.
Professor Cole also finds it troubling that the Patriot Act:
      authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to freeze the assets of any organization or group
          without evidence of wrongdoing. The law is satisfied if the entity is "under investigation"
          for possibly giving material support to people named as "terrorist." Since "terrorist" is not
          defined, it is left to the Secretary to determine who fits that label. Example: The Treasury
          Department has frozen the assets of a number of Muslim charities that may or may not
          have delivered money to terrorist groups. The reason we don't know is that the Patriot
          Act protects the government against any open court challenge.
      criminalizes speech by making it against the law to give "expert advice" to "terrorist
          organizations." Example: Professor Cole represents a human rights organization, the
          Humanitarian Law Project, which had been giving a Kurdish group in Turkey nonviolent
          human rights training and advice about their dispute with the Turkish government. But
          after the government labeled the group "terrorist," it became a crime for the human rights
          group to continue its work with the Kurds.
"So," concludes Cole, "the Patriot Act imposes guilt by association, punishes speech, authorizes
the use of secret evidence and allows detention without charges, yet none of that will be subject
to the Patriot Act debatesÖ.[The debates] will not address many of the most troubling provisions
of that law, or other practices of the Administration that raise far more substantial constitutional
questions." A major reason for this neglect, writes Cole, is that "many of the most pernicious
aspects of the Patriot Act, and of the 'war on terror' generally, affect foreign nationals exclusively,
or nearly exclusively." In short, the provisions don't get much attention because "they apply only
to 'them,' not 'us.'" (The Nation, 5/30/05)
          President Bush vigorously defends the Patriot Act as "a law that gives intelligence and
law enforcement officials important new tools to fight terrorists. This legislation has prevented
terrorist attacks and saved American lives. The dramatic increase in information-sharing allowed
by the Patriot Act has enabled law enforcement to find and dismantle terror cells in Portland,
Oregon; Lackawanna, New York; and Northern Virginia." The Bush administration argues that
"law enforcement officials have been given better tools to fight terrorism, including roving wire
taps and the capacity to seize assets and end financial counterfeiting, smuggling and money-
laundering." (whitehouse.gov)
          A new addition to the Patriot Act proposed by the White House would permit the FBI to
demand records from businesses and other institutions in national security investigations without
getting an order from a judge.
          Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, said that the Patriot Act "has been a
tremendous positive, value-added element of the war against terror. It has allowed us to get
information promptly, and it has allowed us to make sure that it gets to the right people and we
connect it up. And I think it has been handled in a responsible way." He also supports the White
House proposal to expand the Patriot Act to allow the seizure of records in terror cases without a
judge's approval.




Excerpted From: The     Patriot Act,Terrorism & the Bill of Rights
                                         By Alan Shapiro
                         http://www.teachablemoment.org/high/patriotact.html
Additional Resources:
http://americangovernment.abc-
clio.com/Search/Display/563815?terms=Patriot+Act

http://americangovernment.abc-
clio.com/Search/Display/1653675?terms=Patriot+Act


http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/u/usa_patriot_act/i
ndex.html

http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactprovisions.html

								
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