Term Paper: Domestic Terrorism the Al-Qaeda Group

Pages: 15 (4814 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Across the country in many airports faulty metal detectors are letting hundreds through security unchecked. There are also many baggage screeners that are ill trained or not interested in their job and thousands of bags are not screened properly or not screened at all. Many of the screeners are outdated anyway, they can a 2D figure and the screeners are unable to tell a bomb from normal items (Huges). More training and newer equipment are needed to outsmart today's terrorist. The latest in screening devices is the backscatter which takes an x-ray picture of you to see you have any concealed weapons. There are other systems that can scan you for bomb making materials (Halperin). The problem with these is that they are still being tested and they are not ready for large scale use. It is technology like this that will help keep American's safe. It is also this technology that has been around for years that should have been implemented sooner possibly saving us from September 11, 2001.

Since 9/11 our maritime security has increased 10 fold, but there is still not enough to protect us from the threats of terrorism. With the container security initiative we have increased inspection of ship's cargo at foreign ports before it gets here (Wermuth). Ship's must also submit a copy of there cargo to officials before coming to the United States (Wermuth). Some of the systems that have been designed for port security do not work and either needs to be repaired or disposed of. In May of last year scanners kept on tagging kitty litter as a hazard (Pressman). Mistakes like this waste time and money. Repeat attempts have been made to try and require that all cargo entering the United States must be screened but none have past (Wermuth). Our nation's harbors are by far the least secure of our borders; they receive only fractions of the money and manpower that airports and land borders get. There is no need to wait for an attack by sea for something to be done about this.

There are few times where the world has been more dangerous than it is now, and the United States needs to update itself now (Playing Defense). There is no need to wait for another attack before we act. Many of the systems currently in place are out of date or do not work. It is imperative that this be fixed otherwise our country will remain open to terrorism.

The Patriot Act was enacted in October 2001 shortly after attacks from terrorists on the United States on September 11, 2001. The act gives Federal officials and state agencies greater authority and tools to investigate and track suspected terrorists with the goal of bringing them to trial.

The attacks on the United Stated on September 11, 2001 were planned and carried out by 19 people affiliated with the al-Qaeda network. This group hijacked four commercial airlines with the intent to crash them into government and civilian buildings on the East coast. Terrorist crashed one into each of the two world trade center towers in New York City, a third was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC, and the fourth was believed to target either the White House, the U.S. Capitol, or Camp David was crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania following a passenger rebellion (Wikipedia, April 2005).

The attacks on the United States had major political effects across the globe. The attacks also had a profound impact on the citizens of the United States. Nearly half of the population wanted the United States Government to put an end to terrorism (Patriot Act Overview, Nov 2004). United States Congress enacted the Patriot Act in response to the terrorist attacks that took place in September 2001.

The Patriot Act includes two very powerful tools to prevent future terrorist attacks. The first is information sharing provisions that allows the Department of Homeland Security to go on the offense "to substantially expand America's information-sharing capabilities" (Ridge, Nov 2004). Increased collaboration between federal and state agencies is a critical concept of cooperation across all levels of the federal and state government. The second is investigative tools to identify, apprehend, and stop terrorists before they can complete their objectives. Tools to assist the Federal Air Marshals, Border Patrol officers, the United States Coast Guard, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are needed to keep one step ahead in deterring any and all plans of terrorist groups trying to attack the United States. "The tools of the Patriot Act are vital to our ability to prevent terrorist attacks" (Ridge, Nov 2004).

An Overview

The Patriot Act is a lengthy piece of legislation containing over 150 sections and amends over 15 federal statutes. Amended statutes include laws governing criminal procedure, wire tapping, immigration, computer fraud, and foreign intelligence (Wikipedia, April 2005). The Act also incorporates previous foreign intelligence acts including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Main topics of the Act include:

Criminal Investigations: Tracking and Gathering Communications

Foreign Intelligence Investigations

Money Laundering

Impact on Libraries

Legal Environment

Impact on Businesses

(Patriot Act Overview, Nov 2004)

Under criminal investigations, the tracking and gather of communications include governing court orders approving the governments use of trap and trace devices which identify the source and destination of calls made to and from telephones, computers, email, and radio communications. The orders are based on the government's certification that the use of such a device will produce information relevant to any crime. (Patriot Act Overview, Nov 2004)

The Patriot Act eases many of the restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering that were previously in place. However, the Patriot Act also expands safeguards against official abuse.

Money laundering is defined as the practice of engaging in financial transactions in order to conceal the identity, source and destination of the money in question (Wikipedia, 2005). Terrorist organizations use money laundering to conceal where funds are coming from in order to support terrorist activities. The Patriot Act expands the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate the activities of U.S. financial institutions.

The Patriot Act enables Federal authorities to view databases or records on businesses customers. The Act also highly encourages businesses to check government issued identification when performing transactions. An example of this is Federal Express now checks all ID's when taking and delivering packages.

Legal experts from lawyers all the way up to Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have examined and re-examined this law to find see what ramifications and outcomes this places on law and civil liberties. The Secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, has said to Congress "We cannot live in liberty without security. But we would not want to live in security without liberty." Has the Patriot Act gone too far? Many would say that the Government has reintroduced Senator McCarthy's "Red Scare" from the 1940's and 1950's on terrorism in the 21st Century with the passing of this legislation. In the mid-20th Century, Congress adapted safeguards against a widely perceived danger of intelligence centralization. Foreign and domestic intelligence were kept separate to prevent the development of an "all powerful American Gestapo" under the CIA or under the FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has brought several cases of the government violating the Constitution and civil liberties to the courts. This forces the judicial system to intervene. Several judgments have been ruled against the Patriot Act in recent months.

AU.S. District Judge ruled against the surveillance provision stating that it violated the Constitution by giving Federal Authorities unauthorized powers to obtain private info.

Federal Court struck down section 505 of the Patriot Act stating that it violates free speech under the 1st Amendment and the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure under the 4th Amendment.

Federal Court also struck down sections 215 and 505 of the Patriot Act on the grounds that the Act eliminates the requirement that Federal agents do not have to demonstrate "probable cause" before obtaining customers records.

What is also troubling is that certain sections of the law impose a gag rule barring recipients of some searches from telling anyone. This includes a lawyer or a court which precludes any chance for judicial review.

Other impacts also include effects on global economy and on international business. Canada corporations, for instance, could have trouble figuring out whether the information it handles is open to investigations from the United States. U.S. based companies that deal with business customers in other nations can be targeted for investigations of foreign companies. The U.S. company is forbidden from letting the foreign company know about it.

Companies inside the U.S. borders also have a new requirement to keep records of employee and customer activities and to "observe and notify." Notification to the authorities of suspicious behavior or out of the norm routine of customers or employees is now the norm. What impact does… [END OF PREVIEW]

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