Terrorism is a critical issue in the security concerns of the United States of America, which involves such aspects as the territory, the citizens abroad as well as the ambassadorial infrastructure in other countries. There was much tension about the issue of security after the bombing of the World Trade Center in 2001, and since then, the federal government of the United States has embarked on the creation of much legislation to curb the threat of terrorism. Among the laws, there is the PATRIOT ACT that drew criticism from various groups under the excuse of violation of human rights in regard to their privacy. This essay seeks to explore the ways, in which the law helped to improve the security of the United States by enhancing war against terrorism, and such forms include enhancing security, increasing surveillance, curbing money laundering, improving border security, rewarding volunteers of information, and redefining terrorism.
US Patriot Act also Known as Uniting and Strengthening America by providing appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism Act of the year 2001 was signed into law by President George W. Bush on 26th October, 2001 after the act was passed by the Congress. It was after the most devastating terrorist attack on the Twin Towers of the USA on September 11th, 2001. It was the first and the most powerful bill ever passed in the USA to combat terrorism (Kam, 2007). The 9/11 attack was a trumpet call for the government to treat terrorism more seriously than it had been done before. The act was meant to be a more of a preventive measure to terrorism than a reactive one. The legislation did not have a fair reception and was the subject of much controversy as its opponents felt that it would jeopardize their constitutional rights while the proponents argued that it was a real step towards the fight against terrorism. The government aimed at increasing resources in the efforts to combat terrorism and to investigate all terror suspects. Therefore, US Patriot is a crucial tool for monitoring the activities of terror suspects and also ensuring that the acts of terror are detected early enough and timely dealt with.
It is significant to provide authorities with intelligent information on the various terrorist activities not only in the USA but in other states as well. The Patriot also has very strict safeguards that agents cannot use except when sanctioned by a judge. It means that there are minimal cases of abuses of human rights that can emerge from the utilization of this crucial counter-terrorism tool (Sales, 2014). The Patriot has contributed to fixing loopholes that terrorists would use in the past to hide among masses while planning their heinous acts. For instance, before the 9/11 attacks, the police or other security agents in the USA could not investigate lone wolves and this is one of the reason 9/11 happened in the first place. Another example is that authorities in the USA had for long been suspecting Zacarias Moussaoui of being a terrorist. However, he could neither be arrested nor his house searched because the law did not permit it then. It later emerged that he had links with Al Qaeda and participated in the 9/11 attack. According to Sales 2014, the Patriot allows the USA authorities to monitor the activities of a suspected terrorist and gets a judges permission for searching the house as long as the authorities can prove that the suspect is indeed a terrorist.
US Patriot mostly enhanced security and the ability of the security apparatus in the USA to detect, pursue and stop a terrorist from attacking the United States. Some of the provisions of the act and the way they have enhanced the ability of the government to counter terrorism are discussed below.
Enhancement of Domestic Security against Terror Attacks
It is the first and the most important function of the act. Under this provision, the domestic security apparatus have been empowered to improve their tactics and ability to prevent terrorist attacks on the USA soil. Through the act, more money has been pumped into the FBI and other agencies that deal with terror threat in the homeland (Sales, 2014). In the cases of terrorism where weapons of mass destruction (MWDs) are suspected to be involved, the act permits the military involvement to work in close collaboration with the FBI and other agencies to diffuse the threat as long as such a request is made through the office of the attorney general. Therefore, in this sense, the Patriot has opened ways of inter-agency cooperation in dealing with the threats of terrorism. It allows all possible intervention mechanisms available at the government’s disposal to be put to use so as to stop any threat of terror from materializing. The Patriot helped security agencies to detect and diffuse a severe threat to the United States in 2004 when the Authorities discovered a plot that had been hatched to destroy the IMF building, the New York stock exchange, and the Citigroup Centre. It would cripple the United States economic system in a manner that would have been hard to recover. However, with improved security as provided for in the Patriot, the security agents managed to stop the attack from taking place and, therefore, averted a major crisis in the USA.
The US Patriot gives US anti-terror agency the opportunity to monitor the activities of suspected terrorists and people whose activities are suspect with the aim of ensuring that intelligence is gathered to protect the US against terror activities. The provision is also designed to make sure that all the suspected persons do not interfere with investigations and that their movements are monitored with the aim of ensuring that none of them is planning a chance to strike at the US. The provision allowed the government to gather intelligence from other countries across the globe in a bid to detect terrorists from wherever they could be hiding, track their activities and stop them when necessary. It has also worked to avert several threats of terrorist attacks in the USA. For example, in May, 2002, a man who was planning a terror attack in Chicago, Illinois was arrested after returning from Pakistan and attempting to build a dirty bomb that was supposed to be used in the assault (Mascaro, 2011). Due to the increased intelligence and the ability of the authorities to trail terror suspects and learn about their intentions, the authorities were able to stop this man before he could do any harm. It was possible because of the various laws that were endorsed as a result of this vital piece of legislation.
Curbing Money Laundering Activities
One of the easiest ways for terrorists to get funding is through economic crimes such as money laundering. These crimes are the worst as they involve the transfer of vast sums of money that can easily be used for criminal activities. Therefore, under the provisions of the Patriot, the US has been able to work toward stopping terrorism by curtailing the activities of terror. By monitoring such activities, the USA has to a large extent terminated the activity of some of the once most dangerous terror groups such as Al-Qaeda in a bid to ensure that they manage the threat of terrorism.
Improved Border Security
Rewarding Members of Public for Terror-Related Information
Under the Patriot Act, the government of the USA through the office of the Attorney general and the USA Secretary of State has the mandate to give rewards to persons who volunteer to offer information to the state regarding any security threat such as terrorism (Erin, 2015). The persons who provide such information can be awarded up to 5 million US dollars. Thus, this kind of initiative has boosted the Authorities ability to detect terror as they have the support from the citizens and hence have a chance of getting more information quickly as compared to the past. Many terrorists are also discouraged from going to the USA because of both the citizens vigilance and the attention from the security apparatus. For instance, in December, 2001, just after this Act had been signed into law by President Bush, passengers who were on board Flight 63 that was heading to Miami subdued a passenger after attempting to detonate a shoe born in the Plane. It was possible because most of the USA citizens had been on high alert following the 9/11 attack. Hence, the vigilance of the citizens has proved its value in many ways.
The US Patriot has redefined the notion of terrorism to include in the United States Criminal laws. The act of terror is now defined based on standards that meet prosecution for criminality. In this instance, the USA government has defined terrorism as activities that put in jeopardy the lives of civilians that also aim at coercing the government into changing its policy or nay such act. These laws have included kidnapping and assassination as terrorist activities that have to be dealt with extreme outright prejudice. The law also increased intelligence in the country, with the DCI expected to establish the priorities for collecting intelligence in other foreign countries and ensuring that the collected information is analyzed appropriately and shared among all the agencies that are involved in counterterrorism. It facilitates the work of the companies as it enables them to work on the same page with respect to information received. Recently, in September, 2015, a man Joshua Ryne was arrested for several counts of terror-related charges including illegally distributing information on how to make bombs, posing as a member of a known terrorist group and planning a terror attack during the 9/11 memorial at the Orange Park in Florida. He attempted to use an FBI agent to help him with the terror act but was arrested for his crimes. Before his detention, the terrorist had been on the FBI radar and was thus captured in time before doing any harm.
By redefining terrorism under the Act, the authorities have been able to curb very dangerous activities from happening. For instance, in 2012, Sami Osaka was arrested for plotting several attacks in the Tampa, Florida in what he termed as the atrocities committed against Muslims in the area. He planned to do this by planting bombs in several night clubs, attacking a car, using a gun to shoot people and also wearing an explosive vest. It would have caused massive destruction and an enormous number of casualties (Howie, 2012). If terrorism were not redefined, Osaka would have passed just for any other criminal. Considering these amendments, the terrorist is portrayed for how dangerous he was because his activities put in jeopardy the lives of civilians and also aimed at coercing the government into changing its policy or any such act.
Based on the evaluation above, it is important to note that that the US Patriot Act has changed global security and has also influenced the way other states fight terror today. Being a global problem, terrorism needs concerted efforts of each and every person on the planet to curb it. Today, the only real threat to world peace and security is terror groups. Groups such as ISIS, Al-Quaeda, Boko-Haram, and Al-Shabab, among other terror networks have put the world into a state of chaos causing human suffering to many. For instance, Syria and parts of Iraq have been taken by ISIS. There is the massive humanitarian crisis in these countries that needs international intervention. As a terror network, ISIS is well-established, and the only way to destroy it is through international efforts of all those who are affected. One of the things that the USA has not managed to do so far is to deal with ISIS. It was not contained in time before it grew into a big monster that the whole world wishes to kill but is not going away. Despite all the legislation including the Patriot, the USA has not managed to get rid of the greatest terror network of the Century. Although there were a number of successes after the 9/11, numerous concerns have been voiced from different quotas on the implementation of the Patriot. There are people who have argued that the government became very opportunistic in passing the bill immediately after 9/11. In some instances, it was claimed that many congressmen did not even read the bill in the first place and just passed it hurriedly. Issues have also emerged in regard to complaints that that the bill is a total interference with people rights (Tinnes, 2013). There have been problems with the act, especially in the matter of invading people’s privacy. The United States authorities have been accused of misusing the Act to access records of calls from innocent citizens, doing searches in apartments of innocent citizens and even sending some to jail without any substantial ground for it (Susan, 2011). These abuses have been protested very bitterly by American citizens.
The US Patriot has become a critical tool for combating terrorism. It improved the fight against terrorism in some ways such as enhancing security, increasing surveillance, curbing money laundering, improving border security, rewarding volunteers of information, and redefining terrorism. It has empowered various government agencies to work together to prevent attacks from happening, and as discussed above, the act has helped in fighting terror in the USA. No law is perfect as most of them require adaptation; thus, the human right issues do not taint the image of the law. However, the Patriot has been very effective in protecting America from any terror attack. The number of attacks that have been prevented due to this law is impressing.