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Justice Department defends USA Patriot Act as vital, popular

[Links to the DOJ's report to Congress, required under the USA Patriot Act, 
are at the end. Also see the DOJ's fact sheet below. --Declan]


 From DOJ:

FYI - This is a letter that was sent to USA Today last week from the Deputy 
Attorney General regarding the Patriot Act.  Today we received an email 
from USA Today indicating that it probably would not be published. As many 
of you know, we are always happy to clarify any issues or misinformation 
regarding the Patriot Act and therefore I am making this available to all 
of you.  An overview of the Patriot Act is also attached.  Please feel free 
to call us for any further information on the Patriot Act.
Dear Editor:
In your July 14, 2003 article, "Patriot Act Battle is Fought Locally," your 
reporter Debbie Howlett expressed the view that the Patriot Act "gives the 
government sweeping powers to monitor citizens suspected of having ties to 
terrorists."  This may be Ms. Howlett's opinion, but it was not identified 
as such; it was expressed as fact, and it is simply not true.
The Patriot Act was a long overdue measure to close gaping holes in the 
government's ability, responsibly and lawfully, to collect vital 
intelligence information on criminal terrorists to protect our citizens 
from savage attacks such as those which occurred on September 11, 2001. It 
updated the law to accommodate modern technology and to use the same tools 
in terrorism that we have used for years in drug cases and organized crime 
cases.  The Patriot Act was supported overwhelmingly by the American 
people, it was enacted by a margin of 98-1 in the Senate and 357-66 in the 
House, and it provides ample review by federal judges of the actions the 
government takes to prevent terrorism and to investigate terrorist acts.
Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) explained his support of the Patriot Act 
as follows:  "It allows law enforcement to keep up with the modern 
technology these terrorists are using."  Prior to the Patriot Act, he 
explained, "the FBI could get a wiretap to investigate the mafia, but they 
could not get one to investigate terrorists. . . . To put it bluntly, that 
was crazy."
The Patriot Act allows law enforcement to share information with 
intelligence agencies.  Failure to do so is not only foolish, but may lead 
to deadly consequences for our citizens.  As Senator Edwards (D-North 
Carolina) explained, "we simply cannot prevail in the battle against 
terrorism if the right hand of our government has no idea what the left 
hand is doing."
While presumably well-intended, efforts to defeat enforcement of the 
carefully calibrated, congressionally authorized, and largely judicially 
monitored provisions of the Patriot Act could lead to disastrous 
consequences for the American people.  The government has an obligation to 
use common sense and lawful measures to protect its citizens from 
terrorists.  While your newspaper is certainly entitled to report on those 
who oppose these measures, it is unfortunate that your news article served 
to mislead the American people by labeling as fact the misleading opinion 
of one of your reporters.


U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman

News Advisory

Statement Regarding Inspector General's Report on Civil Rights/Liberties 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Recent news reports have erroneously described a report 
by the Justice Department's Inspector General required by section 1001 of 
the USA-PATRIOT Act.  House Judiciary Committee Communications Director 
Jeff Lungren issued the following statement:

"Clarification is necessary about this report.  As stated in the report, 
'Section 1001 of the Patriot Act directs the Office of the Inspector 
General (OIG) in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to undertake a series 
of actions related to claims of civil rights or civil liberties violations 
allegedly committed by DOJ employees.  It also requires the OIG to provide 
semiannual reports to Congress on the implementation of the OIG's 
responsibilities under Section 1001.'

"This report is required by the Patriot Act and is not a report on any 
alleged civil rights violations using the Patriot Act authorities.  Put 
another way, the Patriot Act was the legislative vehicle requiring this 
report, and not the subject of it.  Unfortunately, many stories have 
misreported this fact by falsely saying this report details civil liberties 
complaints stemming from enforcement of the Patriot Act.

"If Meals of Wheels legislation required this report, I would not expect to 
see stories describing the report as detailing civil rights complaints in 
the Meals on Wheels program.  Similarly, stories should not be saying this 
report identifies civil rights violations under the Patriot Act.

"Section 1001 requires the OIG to 'review information and receive 
complaints alleging abuses of civil rights and civil liberties by employees 
and officials of the Department of Justice.'  This report covers any action 
by any DOJ employee under any of the thousands of laws on the books.

The USA Today correctly described this report near the end of today's 
story, 'The report does not cite any examples of alleged abuse of the 
powers provided by the Patriot Act.'"


 From DOJ:

USA PATRIOT Act Summary and Overview

Since the September 11th attacks, the PATRIOT Act has played a part - and 
often the leading role - in a number of successful operations to protect 
America from the deadly plans of terrorists dedicated to destroying America 
and our way of life.  While the results have been important, the PATRIOT 
Act provided for only modest, incremental changes in the law. The Act 
simply took existing legal principles and retrofitted them for the 
challenges posed by a global terrorist network.

      Congress enacting the PATRIOT Act by overwhelming, bipartisan 
margins, arming law enforcement with new tools to detect and prevent 
terrorism: The USA PATRIOT Act was passed nearly unanimously by the Senate 
98-1, and 35766 in the House, with the support of members from across the 
political spectrum.

The Act Improves Our Counter-Terrorism Efforts in Several Significant Ways:

1. The PATRIOT Act facilitated information sharing and cooperation among 
government agencies so that they can better connect the dots: the Act 
removed the legal barriers that prevented the law enforcement, 
intelligence, and defense communities from sharing information and 
coordinating activities in the common effort to protect national security.

The governments prevention efforts cannot be constrained by boxes on an 
organizational chart.  The Act dismantled the walls of separation and 
enabled a culture of cooperation that is essential in our integrated 
antiterrorism campaign.

        For example, prosecutors can now share grand jury evidence with 
the intelligence community -- and the Act also permits the sharing of 
intelligence information with federal prosecutors.  Such sharing of 
information leads to concrete results.

        Recently, a federal grand jury indicted Sami al-Arian for 
bankrolling Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the worlds most violent 
terrorist outfits.  Palestinian Islamic Jihad is responsible for murdering 
more than 100 innocent people, including Alisa Flatow, a young American 
killed in a bus bombing near the Israeli settlement Kfar Darom.  The 
indictment of al-Arian was possible because the Act allowed criminal 
prosecutors to use foreign intelligence information gathered by 
intelligence agents.

2. Updating the Law to Reflect New Technologies:  The PATRIOT Act brought 
the law up to date with current technology, so we no longer have to fight a 
digital-age battle with antique weaponslegal authorities leftover from the 
era of rotary telephones.

When investigating the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, 
for example, law enforcement used one of the Acts surveillance authorities 
to intercept critical internet communications that helped identify and 
locate some of the killers.  Also, after the 2001 anthrax attacks, a 
federal court in Washington, D.C., used the Acts nationwide search 
warrantsauthority to issue an order authorizing law enforcement to search 
the premises of the first anthrax victims employer in Boca Raton, 
Florida.  Investigators saved valuable time because they were able to ask 
the local federal judge, who was most familiar with the case and who was 
overseeing the nationwide investigation, for the order.  Other authorities 
permitted by the Act include:

Adds terrorism crimes to the pre-existing list of offenses for which the 
government can ask a court for a wiretap order.  The offenses added include 
chemical weapons offenses, killing United States nationals abroad, using 
weapons of mass destruction, and providing material support to terrorist 
Allows victims of computer hacking to request law enforcement assistance in 
monitoring the trespasserson their computers.  This change made the law 
technology-neutral; it placed electronic trespassers on the same footing as 
physical trespassers.
Allows law enforcement to ask a court for an order to obtain business 
records in national security cases.  While law enforcement has always been 
able to obtain business records in criminal cases through grand jury 
subpoenas, it was difficult for them to get these records in national 
security investigations. These records proved useful in criminal cases like 
the Unabomber investigation, where grand juries looked for those who had 
checked out the four fairly arcane books cited in the Unabomber 
Manifesto.Under the PATRIOT Act, the government can now ask courts for the 
same records in national security investigations, as well.  Investigators 
might seek, for example, records from chemical plants to find out who 
bought materials that could make a bomb, or bank records to see whos 
sending money to terrorists.  Courts can issue these orders only after the 
government demonstrates its need for them, and the Act specifically 
protects First Amendment activities.

3.  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 pushes the button.  Thats why the PATRIOT Act 
imposed tough new penalties on those who commit and support terrorist 
operations, both at home and abroad.  In particular, the Act:

Prohibits the harboring of terrorists.  The Act created a new offense that 
prohibits knowingly harboring persons who have committed or are about to 
commit a variety of terrorist offenses, such as: destruction of aircraft; 
use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons; use of weapons of mass 
destruction; bombing of government property; sabotage of nuclear 
facilities; or aircraft piracy.
Enhanced the inadequate maximum penalties for various crimes likely to be 
committed by terrorists: including arson, destruction of energy facilities, 
material support to terrorists and terrorist organizations, and destruction 
of national-defense materials.
Enhanced a number of conspiracy penalties, including for arson, killings in 
federal facilities, attacking communications systems, material support to 
terrorists, sabotage of nuclear facilities, and interference with flight 
crew members.  Under previous law, many terrorism statutes did not 
specifically prohibit engaging in conspiracies to commit the underlying 
offenses.  In such cases, the government could only bring prosecutions 
under the general federal conspiracy provision, which carries a light 
maximum penalty of five years.
Punishes terrorist attacks on mass transit systems.
Punishes bioterrorists.
Eliminates and lengthens the statutes of limitations for terrorism crimes.

Overall, the governments success in preventing another catastrophic attack 
on the American homeland since September 11, 2001, would have been much 
more difficult, if not impossibly so, without the USA PATRIOT Act.  The 
Departments experience is that the authorities Congress provided in the 
Act have substantially enhanced our ability to prevent, investigate, and 
prosecute acts of terrorism.


Report to Congress on Implementation
of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act
(as required by Section 1001(3) of Public Law 107-56)

July 17, 2003
Office of the Inspector General

The USA PATRIOT Act (Patriot Act), Public Law 107-56, enacted by
Congress and signed by the President on October 26, 2001, provides
expanded law enforcement authorities to enhance the federal
government's efforts to detect and deter acts of terrorism in the
United States or against United States' interests abroad. Section
1001 of the Patriot Act directs the Office of the Inspector General
(OIG) in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to undertake a series
of actions related to claims of civil rights or civil liberties
violations allegedly committed by DOJ employees. It also requires the
OIG to provide semiannual reports to Congress on the implementation
of the OIG's responsibilities under Section 1001. This report - the
third since enactment of the legislation - summarizes the OIG's
Patriot Act-related activities from December 16, 2002, through June
15, 2003.



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