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Preserving Life and Liberty
March 31, 2004 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Preserving Life and Liberty - The Department of Justice’s first priority is to prevent future terrorist attacks. Since its passage following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Patriot Act has played a key part - and often the leading role - in a number of successful operations to protect innocent Americans from the deadly plans of terrorists dedicated to destroying America and our way of life. Is this a legitimate way for the government to keep citizens informed, or merely a propaganda tool?
posted by RylandDotNet (13 comments total)

 
Preserving Life? Well, maybe. But I'm unaware of any case where the PATRIOT act made the difference. Is there one?

Preserving Liberty? Please. Be serious :)
posted by kaemaril at 6:01 PM on March 31, 2004


Propaganda tool.
posted by LowDog at 6:09 PM on March 31, 2004


Patriot Watch
posted by homunculus at 6:28 PM on March 31, 2004


kaemaril: Preserving Life? Well, maybe. But I'm unaware of any case where the PATRIOT act made the difference. Is there one?

From the site:

How we are winning the war on terrorism:

First, we are disrupting terrorist threats, and capturing the terrorists that would carry them out. Over the last two years:

Our intelligence and law enforcement communities, and our partners, both here and abroad, have identified and disrupted over 150 terrorist threats and cells;
Worldwide, nearly two-thirds of al Qaida’s known senior leadership has been captured or killed -- including a mastermind of the September 11th attacks;
Worldwide, more than 3,000 operatives have been incapacitated;
Four terrorist cells in Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle, and Portland (Oregon), have been broken up;
300 individuals have been criminally charged in the United States in terrorism investigations;
Already, 163 individuals have been convicted or have pled guilty in the United States, including shoe-bomber Richard Reid and "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh; and
Over 515 individuals linked to the September 11th investigation have been removed from the United States.
Second, we are gathering and cultivating detailed knowledge on terrorism in the United States:

Hundreds of suspected terrorists have been identified and tracked throughout the United States;
Our human sources of intelligence have increased 40% since 9/11, and the quality of this human intelligence has improved significantly; and
Our counterterrorism investigations have more than doubled since 9/11.


Third, we are gathering information by leveraging criminal charges and long prison sentences. When individuals realize that they face a long prison term, they often try to lessen their prison time by pleading guilty and cooperating with the government.

These individuals have provided critical intelligence about al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, safehouses, training camps, recruitment, and tactics in the United States, and the operations of those terrorists who mean to do Americans harm.
One individual has given us intelligence on weapons stored here in the United States.
Another individual has identified locations in the United States being scouted or cased for potential attacks by al-Qaida.
Fourth, we are dismantling the terrorist financial network. Already the United States Government has:

Designated 36 terrorist organizations;
Frozen $133 million in assets around the world;
Launched 70 investigations into terrorist financing, with 23 convictions or guilty pleas to date; and
Established an FBI Terrorist Financing Operations Section (TFOS) and utilized the Joint Terrorism Task Forces to identify, investigate, prosecute, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist-related financial and fundraising activities.
Fifth, we are using new legal tools to detect, disrupt, and prevent potential terrorist plots. Congress has provided better tools to make sure we are doing all we can, legally and within the bounds of the Constitution, to detect, disrupt, and prevent acts of terror. The PATRIOT Act passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, in the Senate by 98-1, and in the House of Representatives by 357-66.

The PATRIOT Act allows investigators to use the tools that were already available to investigate organized crime and drug trafficking. These tools have been used for decades and have been reviewed and approved by the courts.
The PATRIOT Act facilitates information sharing and cooperation among government agencies so that they can better “connect the dots.” In the past, different agencies and departments were collecting data but not sharing it with each other. Now we are able to share that data to prevent future attacks.
The PATRIOT Act updated the law to reflect new technologies and new threats. The Act brought the law up to date with current technology, so we no longer have to fight a digital-age battle with legal authorities left over from the era of rotary telephones.
The PATRIOT Act increased the penalties for those who commit terrorist crimes. Americans are threatened as much by the terrorist who pays for a bomb as by the one who detonates it. That’s why the Act imposed tough new penalties on those who commit and support terrorist operations, both at home and abroad.


Sixth, the Department of Justice is building its long-term counter-terrorism capacity since September 11th:

A nearly three-fold increase in counter-terrorism funds;
Approximately 1,000 new and redirected FBI agents dedicated to counterterrorism and counterintelligence;
250 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys;
66 Joint Terrorism Task Forces;
337% increase in Joint Terrorism Task Force staffing; and
FBI Flying Squads developed for rapid deployment to hot spots worldwide.

I'd wager that, yes, it IS making a difference.
posted by davidmsc at 6:51 PM on March 31, 2004


I'd wager that, yes, it IS making a difference.
I'd wager that most of the "hundreds of suspected terrorists" who "have been identified and tracked" are only dangerous if you happen to be a cannabis plant.

And I'd further wager that the vast majority of those 250 new Assistant US Attorneys will see considerably more drug cases during their careers than actual terrorism.

But golly gee, it sure sounds good. Mr. Ashcroft is the gr8est. Bush r0x0rz.
posted by ehintz at 7:38 PM on March 31, 2004


I have never felt threatened by the Patriot Act. Maybe I'm just blissfully ignorant. But I'm mostly law abiding and way too cavalier about not protecting my own identity and yet I don't fear the men in black suits coming to get me. So put me down as pro.
posted by vito90 at 8:07 PM on March 31, 2004


ehintz, I think you're going too far to argue that the Patriot Act isn't working to stop terrorism, though I agree with you that it's being abused -- and I want it to be repealed. I don't think it was ever a question of whether or not the Patriot Act would work to curtail terrorism; it was a question of whether or not it's worth it, and one of the reasons it's not worth it is because of the abuse you describe, where it's brought in to prosecute civil crimes with no national-security impact whatsoever.

Sure, the Patriot Act works. But chips in our brains connected to a network of space-lasers that vaporize us when we run a red light would work too. I used to think we all agreed that something like that would be A Bad Thing, but I'm less sure now...
posted by logovisual at 8:11 PM on March 31, 2004


davidmsc, did you read any of that stuff before you copy-pasted it from the site?

including shoe-bomber Richard Reid and "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh

Richard Reid was caught by a stewardess who saw him trying to set fire to his shoes. Don't need the PATRIOT act for that.

John Walker Lindh was captured on the battlefield. Don't need the PATRIOT act for that, either.

And so on. Only one small section of the page you decided to quote in full has anything to do with the PATRIOT act -- and all that section does is describe, misleadingly, what the act is, not what it has done.

Seems like you're trying to do the same thing they are: flood us with redundant, vaguely-relevant, reassuring-sounding information, in the hopes that none of us will look too closely at any of it. Nice try.
posted by ook at 9:00 PM on March 31, 2004


Those government agencies really know how to pull an April Fools joke. Good one. I feel safer knowing we have comedians in high places.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 9:02 PM on March 31, 2004


Propaganda:

"Hundreds of suspected terrorists have been identified and tracked throughout the United States"

"Designated 36 terrorist organizations"

They don't mention that most of these "terrorists" are involved in the drug trade, not terrorism against Americans. Unless you're Ashcroftian - then the drug business is "terrorism." Tommy Chong is one of the "Hundreds of suspected terrorists" because he sold some bongs. They government can snoop on you if you check out a Left-wing book from the library, or rent a "liberal" DVD. They can add me to the list of "suspected terrorists" simply for posting this.
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:40 PM on March 31, 2004


Is this a legitimate way for the government to keep citizens informed, or merely a propaganda tool?

I vote propaganda tool.

What say you Defenders Of All Things Dubya?

Will you rally to davidsmc's side and defend the "honor" of Ashcroftian goodness?

I'd wager that, it IS making a difference, more so than, say, the invasion of Iraq, a very large net negative on terrorism. But the Patriot Act is anything BUT patriotic (but, but, but!) Too bad aWol is doing everything Osama wants I'd say. Too bad for the US, that is.
posted by nofundy at 11:29 AM on April 1, 2004



Already, 163 individuals have been convicted or have pled guilty in the United States, including shoe-bomber Richard Reid and "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh


Richard Reid was caught by a stewardess who saw him trying to set fire to his shoes. Don't need the PATRIOT act for that.

John Walker Lindh was captured on the battlefield. Don't need the PATRIOT act for that, either.


they where not caught under the Patriot act, but I believe they where convicted under articles of the patriot Act?
posted by clavdivs at 11:51 AM on April 1, 2004


clavdivs: Don't know about Lindh, but with regards to Reid I can only ask one thing: Was legal before the Patriot act to smuggle explosive devices onboard commercial airliners? I'm thinking the answer to that might be "No". It's not like without the all-powerful PATRIOT act to defend the USA terrorists were getting away with all sorts of wacky shenanigans...
posted by kaemaril at 3:40 PM on April 1, 2004


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