A perspective on the Patriot Act

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Merlin1047, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. Merlin1047

    Merlin1047 Senior Member

    Mar 28, 2004
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    Reality vs. myths
    By Michael Battle

    Since the USA Patriot Act passed with wide, bipartisan support, it has been the target of a campaign of misinformation. The truth is that it preserves civil liberties while helping us keep America safe from terror.
    As a federal prosecutor, I have used the act to prosecute a terrorism case in my hometown. In summer 2001, as a U.S. attorney for New York State, I began investigating what turned out to be an active terrorist cell within the USA. Before the law passed, the investigation was hamstrung by a legal "wall" that prevented law enforcement and intelligence officials from sharing information. We had to set up two investigations, and agents from one side could not talk with the other. As a result, we couldn't connect the dots.

    Following 9/11, President Bush and Congress recognized that prosecutors and law enforcement didn't have the counterterrorism tools needed to keep the country safe. Congress passed the Patriot Act, and it has been critical in helping us dismantle terrorist cells, disrupt terrorist plots and capture terrorists before they have been able to strike.

    One of the most important things the act did was to break down that wall. In my case, our two teams were able to share information and discover that the suspects had attended an al-Qaeda training camp. They had studied firearms, explosives and tactical training, and learned how to detonate hand grenades, Molotov cocktails and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Then, they came back to America and were living among us. Thanks to this law, the terrorists known as the "Lackawanna Six" are behind bars instead of living in my hometown.

    This is only one of many examples of how this law has helped us detect and bring to justice those who would abuse the freedoms that make our nation great. It also strengthened and updated our criminal laws to address new technology. We can now use against terrorists the tools we were already using in drug and violent-crime cases.

    Judges and Congress have carefully reviewed our use of these tools, and to date there are no verified civil liberties violations. In fact, the act contains several safeguards specifically designed to protect civil liberties.

    This December, 16 key provisions of this law will expire. As Congress debates, I hope it remembers the Lackawanna Six. The threat of terrorism will not expire in December; neither should the tools that keep us safe.

    Michael Battle is director of the Justice Department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

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