STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE JUCIDIARY COMMITTEE
JAMES SENSENBRENNER ON THE RENEWAL OF THE USA PATRIOT ACT
March 2, 2006
"Today, the Senate faced a decision whether
we continued to wage the war on terror or whether we retreated to a pre-9/11
security approach. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of the Senate voted
to extend the most critical anti-terrorism legislation enacted since 9/11. The
89-to-10 bipartisan vote illustrates an understanding that the PATRIOT Act has
kept us safer while protecting the civil liberties we cherish."
Read the full quote
STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE USA PATRIOT ACT IN COMBATTING TERRORISM
December 22, 2005
"The PATRIOT Act is essential to protecting the
American people against the terrorists. The Act tore down the wall between
law enforcement and intelligence officials so that they can share information
and work together to help prevent attacks. . The PATRIOT Act has helped us to
disrupt terrorist plots and break up cells here in the United States. I will
work closely with the House and Senate to make sure that we are not without
this crucial law for even a day."
STATEMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY MICHAEL CHERTOFF ON THE REAUTHORIZATION OF THE USA PATRIOT ACT
December 21, 2005
" The number one tool in defending this country is
intelligence. Gathering it, investigating it, and sharing it. If we don't have
the full ability to use the tools of gathering, sharing, and using intelligence,
we are putting very important weapons in the war on terror down on the ground
and walking away from them. And I don't think that's anything we can afford to
do. . Our line of defense is a line with intelligence and investigation. And the
PATRIOT Act gives us the ability to do that in a way that respects the Constitution,
respects civil liberties, but gets the job done."
STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO R. GONZALES ON THE SENATE'S REFUSAL TO ALLOW A VOTE ON THE USA PATRIOT ACT
December 16, 2005
"These provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are essential to
our efforts in the war on terrorism and their loss will damage our ability to prevent
terrorist attacks. Our Nation cannot afford to let these important counterterrorism
tools lapse. The House of Representatives has already acted, through a bipartisan
vote that renewed the PATRIOT Act's sunsetted provisions while strengthening the Act's
significant civil liberties protections. After 23 congressional hearings, testimony
from more than 60 different witnesses, and months of deliberations, it is now time
for the Senate to act. National security should not be compromised with procedural
delaying tactics. The PATRIOT Act has clear bipartisan majority support, and the Senate
should be allowed to vote up or down on the conference report. The American people
deserve no less."
CONSEQUENCES OF LETTING THE USA PATRIOT ACT EXPIRE:
If the USA PATRIOT Act is allowed to expire, we will return to a pre-9/11 mode of information sharing where there are not clear rules governing investigators' ability to share information with each other, where terrorists and spies can use technology against us, and where it is more difficult to investigate a potential terrorist attack that it is to catch a drug dealer, a mobster, or a white collar criminal.
Read the full press release
The Wall Street Journal: PATRIOT Act Showdown
In a December 21 editorial, the Wall Street Journal calls on the Senate minority of
42 Democrats and four Republicans to end the filibuster on the PATRIOT Act and allow
the Senate to give this important bill and up or down vote.
At midnight on December 31, while Americans are
ringing in the New Year, terrorists will have something to celebrate too: The expiration
of 16 key provisions of the USA Patriot Act. ...
There's still a chance a deal can be reached to
extend the anti-terrorism law before the deadline, but don't count on it. That would
require an act of responsibility from Senate Democrats -- something that's in short
supply these days on matters of national security. Instead, this Senate minority of
42 Democrats and four Republicans prefers to impose its will on bipartisan majorities
by refusing to let the renewal of the Patriot Act come to the Senate floor for a vote.
President Bush called the filibuster "inexcusable" this week, and most Republicans seem
ready to fight this one out for a change. They ought to.
Fran Townsend: Pass the PATRIOT Act
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Frances Fragos
Townsend, calls on Republicans and Democrats alike to place the protection of Americans
before politics and reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act.
The USA Patriot Act is much more than an abstract
political debate in Washington. It is an essential part of the United States' effort to
prosecute the War on Terror in tangible, measurable ways. The House of Representatives has
voted to reauthorize the provisions of the Patriot Act that are leading to real results in
the war, but unfortunately, on Friday, a minority of senators blocked the
Rudy Giuliani: Americans Must Use Every Legal Tool to Fight Terrorism
In a recent oped featured in the New York Times, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani calls on the Senate to remember the importance of the USA PATRIOT Act in securing America:
I support the extension of the Patriot Act for one simple reason: Americans must use every legal and constitutional tool in their arsenal to fight terrorism and protect their lives and liberties. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made clear that the old rules no longer work. The terrorists who attacked us seek to kill innocent men, women and children of all races and creeds. They seek to destroy our liberties.
Read the full op-ed
Attorney General: Reauthorize the Patriot Act
In a recent op-ed featured in the Washington Post, U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales highlights the importance of the USA PATRIOT Act for the brave men and women of law enforcement in securing our nation against terrorists:
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists inspired by hatred murdered nearly 3,000 innocent Americans. In response Congress overwhelmingly passed the USA Patriot Act. Now, before it adjourns for the year, Congress must act again to reauthorize this critical piece of legislation. Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are at work: Their stated goal is to kill Americans, cripple our economy and demoralize our people.
The bill to be considered this week is a good one. It equips law enforcement with the tools needed to fight terrorists, and it also includes new civil liberties protections. Members of Congress should put aside the rhetoric and focus on the facts surrounding this vital legislation.
Read the full op-ed
Attorney General: Congress Must Act
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales delivered remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations where he stressed the importance of the USA PATRIOT Act with regards to "sharing information, increasing cooperation and coordination in the law enforcement community, and improving our ability to track and investigate terrorist activity" and urged Congress to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act in a form that would help to protect America:
The PATRIOT Act has given investigators additional authorities they need to help stop terrorists before they can hurt Americans and harm our way of life. As we know, the Act was designed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress to deal directly with the shortcomings in our system prior to September 11th - providing new and better methods of sharing information, increasing cooperation and coordination in the law enforcement community, and improving our ability to track and investigate terrorist activity in the United States. Sixteen key provisions of the Act are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. For several months, Congress has debated these provisions. It is good in a democracy like ours that we discuss and analyze the wisdom of every law - particularly those that, if abused, would infringe your civil liberties. We have done that. Now, Congress must act to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act by sending the President a bill of which all Americans can be proud.
Read the full speech
Read the Council on Foreign Relations Fact sheet
Assistant Attorney General and FBI Deputy Director on National Security Letters
In a recent op-ed featured in USA Today, Rachel Brand, the Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy and John Pistole, the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation made the case for National Security Letters as a vital tool that allows us to "secure our nation against terrorist attack" while highlighting civil liberties protections:
The Justice Department cannot secure our nation against terrorist attack unless investigators are equipped with tools that allow them to disrupt plots before they can be carried out. These same tools must protect civil liberties. National Security Letters (NSLs) satisfy both requirements. In national security investigations, the FBI must follow up on every tip and every threat. The American people demand as much. NSLs, which predate the USA Patriot Act, enable the FBI to do so quickly and unobtrusively. An NSL is simply a request for information. It does not authorize the FBI to conduct a search or make a seizure. If the recipient of an NSL declines to produce the requested information, the FBI cannot compel him to do so; only a federal court has that authority.
Read the full op-ed
U.S. Attorney: Patriot Act is a sensible way to keep us safe
In the Sunday, July 31st edition of The El Paso Times (TX), U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton for the Western District of Texas praises the USA PATRIOT Act as an important tool that gives law enforcement the "ability to preserve and protect our nation's liberty in the face of continuing terrorist threats."
"Like all Americans, I hold dear our freedom from unwanted government intrusion into our private lives. As a people, we have always recognized that greater freedom may be accompanied by somewhat diminished security. As recent events have shown, terrorism poses a serious threat to both our security and freedom.
Sutton's entire op-ed can be read here: http://www.elpasotimes.com/apps/
The Patriot Act strikes a reasonable and sensible balance between freedom and security to meet the real dangers we face. The act provides the essential means we need to defend ourselves against terrorists while maintaining and protecting the civil and constitutional rights we cherish."
Attorney General: The Threat is Still Out There
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales appeared on FOX News Sunday with Brit Hume this weekend where he warned against complacency in the face of terror and stated his strong support of the USA PATRIOT Act - while warning that weakening the Act would make it much more difficult for law enforcement to protect America.
From the FOX News Sunday transcript:
"We now know from these attacks that the threat is still out there, that we shouldn't become complacent, that we do need authorities like the Patriot Act to help us, to help the law enforcement community gather information so that we can prevent additional attacks not only against America, but against America's friends and allies."
Read the entire transcript here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,163494,00.html
"But this is a very diabolical, very patient enemy. And what we can assure the American viewers is that we've done a lot to protect America. We now have a Department of Homeland Security. We have additional resources, personnel, and technology to deal with this issue. We're in the process of reorganizing the Department of Justice and the FBI, all to make sure that we can share information better. And all this is an attempt to ensure that the government is doing everything it can do to protect America and its allies."
"Well, what I've said is I would welcome clarifications and certain reforms in The Patriot Act. But I've always been very clear, very consistent in saying that I could not support provisions or changes, amendments to the act that would weaken the act, that would make it more difficult to protect America against these kinds of threats and against these kinds of attacks."
Acting U.S. Attorney: The USA PATRIOT Act is a Vital Tool in the Information Arsenal
In the Sunday edition of Pueblo (CO) Chieftain, Acting U.S. Attorney Bill Leone declared that the USA PATRIOT Act is a "vital tool in the information arsenal" and urged the continuation of efficient information sharing between agencies to help protect America.
We need accurate information about who is in our country, about where they came from, about unusual or suspicious activities that experience has shown may be related to terrorist plots. Unless we enhance our ability to prevent attacks by effectively gathering, sharing and analyzing information about our enemies we will have no chance to defeat them. We will be left to look back again and again, impotently, in the aftermath of brutal attacks, like the ones in London, and try to solve the mystery of who committed the crime.
Leone's entire op-ed can be read here: http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1122186535/6
The USA Patriot Act is, quite simply, a vital tool in the information arsenal for this 21st century war. The Patriot Act has been undergoing a robust and necessary debate in Congress. However, the Act has come under unwarranted and misinformed attack.
The Patriot Act allows criminal investigators to share information with intelligence officials and visa versa. This information sharing was prohibited by law before the Patriot Act. This prohibition contributed to our inability to detect and stop the attacks on 9/11. The Patriot Act modernized our ability to monitor criminal and terrorist communications by applying our wiretap laws to new technologies such as cell phones and e-mail without modifying or reducing the legal and constitutional restraints applicable to those tools. Wiretap orders must still be reviewed by, approved by and monitored by a federal court to prevent any abuse of this power.
U.S. Representative: USA PATRIOT Act is a "Valuable Tool in Protecting the Homeland"
In an op-ed to the Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, U.S. Representative Bill Shuster demonstrates his support for the USA PATRIOT Act by declaring that the Act "has been the most effective resource for America's law enforcement" community. In addition, Shuster explains how the USA PATRIOT Act will continue to help protect America from the latest terrorist threat.
The war on terror is multifaceted and requires an offensive strategy abroad as well as appropriate and clear policies at home that allow law enforcement officials to break up terrorist cells, both in the U.S. and overseas. These cells need to be infiltrated in order to protect America from another attack. This requires law enforcement officers to trace finances, monitor suspicious activity and uncover this vast network known as al-Qaida. The Patriot Act serves this role by allowing agents to pursue subpoenas to search a terrorist's background, Internet activity, phone calls, travel plans or any other detail that will determine the suspect's involvement. Ultimately, the goal is to stop terrorists from plotting to murder innocent Americans and the Patriot Act has helped apprehend many of these killers.
Read Representative Shuster's full op-ed in the Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailycourier/
America's national security investigators work to prevent terrorists' communication and freeze their assets. As we move into the 21st century with new and different threats, part of their goal is to make it difficult, impossible even, for terrorists to hide, plan and coordinate. The unconventional threats facing America today are not like the dangers of the past. We are fighting a wide-ranging and complex system of spylike terrorists who act covertly and are ready to give up their lives to kill. Their end-goal is unclear but it does not include freedom or democracy. Taking the fight to the enemy is necessary but not enough; America must defend its homeland by providing federal investigators with tools to track down terrorists within our borders. The Patriot Act provides these and is essential to winning the war on terror.
US Attorney: The USA PATRIOT Act Provides the Crucial Law Enforcement Tools to Fight Terrorism
The most recent edition of the South Bend Tribune features an op-ed from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Joseph S. Van Bokkelen. In the article, U.S. Attorney Van Bokkelen breaks down misconceptions surrounding the USA PATRIOT Act and highlights the similarities between Sections 215 and long-standing domestic crime fighting tools.
Van Bokkelen writes:
In order to fight this new enemy, law enforcement and the intelligence community needed to be able to use the same tools that law enforcement has successfully used over the years to fight the mob, drug cartels, public corruption and other types of organized criminal activity. Those tools include wiretaps, roving wiretaps, search warrants, delayed notification search warrants, grand jury subpoenas requiring the production of records and, most importantly, being able to share the information that was obtained with other law enforcement agencies. The Patriot Act gave the war on terrorism those tools. The Patriot Act also provided for broad judicial oversight as to the use of these new tools.
You can read US Attorney Van Bokkelen's full op-ed in the South Bend Tribune: http://www.southbendtribune.com/stories/
I also want to discuss Section 215. The criticism of this section more than any other underscores the misunderstanding surrounding the Patriot Act. The critics of this provision call it "the library provision." The fact is, the word "library" does not appear in the section. Rather, the terms used are "records" or "things."
Section 215 permits federal judges to order that business records or similar types of records be provided to law enforcement when those records are being sought for the purpose of fighting international terrorism. It gives to the war on terrorism another of the tools that historically has been employed in the fight against organized crime, gangs, official corruption and drug cartels.
The irony of the criticism of this section is that such information is routinely obtained in traditional criminal investigations pursuant to a subpoena with no judicial oversight. Section 215 authorizes terrorism investigators to obtain the same type of information but only through a court order.
U.S. Attorney: We Need These Provisions
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Lisa Godbey Wood writes in the
Savannah Morning News that Section 215 and Section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act are
indispensable tools for information sharing and terrorism investigations. In addition,
U.S. Attorney Wood restates the protections built into the provisions of the USA PATRIOT
Inter-agency sharing of information is crucial to
a thorough and meaningful terrorism investigation. Here in Georgia, our law enforcement
agencies have benefited from this exchange on a regular basis. Since passage of the Act,
212 individuals in terrorism-related investigations have been convicted across the
Critics of the Patriot Act raise hypothetical
civil rights abuses that they fear might someday occur. A common target of the hypothetical
abuse musings is Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Critics fear that it would result in
unchecked government searches of library records.
Actually, Section 215 does not contain the word
"library." It does allow terrorism investigators to gather relevant documents. It has been
used exactly 35 times in three and a half years and never to gather information from a
library. Moreover, to be certain that it is not misused, it contains a requirement that a
federal judge approve its usage in advance.
Wood's entire op-ed can be read here:
U.S. Attorney: The USA PATRIOT Act Has Made
"Important and Sensible Improvements"
In the most recent edition of the Providence Journal, the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island
Robert C. Corrente, explains the misinformation surrounding provisions 213 and 215 of the
USA PATRIOT Act -- while highlighting the information sharing improvements the USA PATRIOT
Act has provided for law enforcement.
The Patriot Act made a number of important and
sensible improvements in the rules that govern intelligence investigations. First, it broke
down "The Wall," which had prohibited the sharing of information between criminal investigators
and intelligence personnel.
For example, a federal prosecutor told Congress about a
criminal investigation of Osama bin Laden in 1996 and described how he had been able to talk
to police officers and even to al-Qaida members, but not to the FBI agents across the street,
who were involved in an intelligence investigation of bin Laden.
The ability to share information has been critical to the
dismantling of several terror cells, including ones in Portland, Ore., and Lackawanna, N.Y. No
one has openly advocated rebuilding The Wall, but several of the information-sharing provisions
of the act are among those scheduled to expire this year.
Corrente's entire op-ed can be read here:
Remarks of Attorney General
Alberto R. Gonzales at the District Attorneys National Meeting:
As Attorney General, I have sworn to enforce the laws and protect the
liberties of the American people. And as district attorneys, you bring
your expertise and integrity to bear every day to serve the citizens of your
communities. You are the men and women on the frontlines and you have the
most to lose whenever an effective law enforcement tool is lost or
compromised. For this reason, I want to say a few words about the PATRIOT
In my experience in the White House and now at the Department of Justice,
I have seen just how critical it is for law enforcement to use the PATRIOT
Act to build better communication and cooperation. We know today that the
terrorists avoided detention of the plans for September 11, in part, because
of our inability to share information adequately.
President Bush believes that winning the war on terror requires winning
the war of information.
Sixteen critical provisions of the PATRIOT Act-including those that
encourage information sharing-are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
We are at a critical point as the bill is being debated in both houses of
Congress. I am optimistic that members of Congress share my sense of urgency
in making sure that law enforcement officials have the tools they need to
protect this country from future terrorist attacks-tools that are consistent
with our long cherished values and consistent with our rights under the
Read the full speech: http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/speeches/2005/071805nationaldisattassocmeeting.htm
Heritage Foundation: "The Patriot
In a recent article by Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
strong support was given for the reauthorization of many critical USA PATRIOT Act
provisions that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. In addition, the
article highlights the uses of Section 215 while dispelling many of the myths
that surround the provision.
Today, almost four years later, the verdict
is in: The Patriot Act works -- and the provisions scheduled to "sunset" should
Of course, this being Washington, not everyone agrees.
Critics tend to focus on Section 215 of the Act. It allows a special federal court
to approve a search warrant for any tangible thing (books, records, papers,
documents and other items) during an investigation aimed at international
terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. Such a search is allowed,
provided the investigation doesn't violate the First Amendment rights of an American
This is a critical power. As Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey told Congress
last month, "You want to catch a terrorist with his hands on the check instead of
his hands on the bomb. You want to be many steps ahead of the devastating event.
The way we do that is through preventive and disruptive measures, by using
investigative tools to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, and then
incapacitating a target at the right moment."
...On the other hand, if we repeal Section 215, we remove even the possibility that
the police could investigate suspicious activity in a library or a bookstore. We'd
effectively make those places safe havens for terrorists. That would clearly be a
You can read the entire article on the Heritage Foundation website: http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ed071805a.cfm
FBI Counsel: National Security Cases were "hindered" prior to PATRIOT Act
Division counsel for the Los Angeles division of the F.B.I R. Stephen Kramer writes in the Orange County Register that national security cases were "hindered by investigative tools and unnecessary administrative hurdles prior to the USA Patriot Act."
Over the past year, the Register has expressed criticisms in various editorials of the USA Patriot Act ["The House takes a patriotic stand," June 17; "A' for effort, needs work," Oct. 17, 2004; and "Welcome limitation on the Patriot Act," Oct. 3, 2004]. The Register's views reflect common misconceptions of the reforms the USA Patriot Act made to existing laws and how the FBI uses these laws to investigate national security cases.
Kramer's entire op-ed can be read here: http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2005/07/11/sections/commentary/
Contrary to the Register's views that the act was cobbled together in haste after 9/11, the act actually intelligently addressed laws and policies that had placed unnecessary restraints on the FBI's ability to gather, analyze and share terrorism-related information. In other areas, the act updated federal laws - written in the era of rotary telephones - to account for new technologies such as the Internet and voice-mail.
Congressman : Library Records Safe Under The Patriot Act
Congressman Todd Platts (R-PA) writes in the York Daily Record that the USA PATRIOT Act helped law enforcement officials use tools long available to them regarding organized crime, child pornography, or drug investigations when conducting international terrorism investigations, and those investigative tools encompass civil liberties protections to ensure that the constitutional rights of American citizens are not infringed upon wrongly.
Congressman Platt writes:
Although almost four years have passed since the tragic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it is imperative that we not forget the horror of that fateful day or the courageous efforts of countless individuals who went to the aid of others in need. It is also imperative that we learn from the lessons of the attacks.
Platts entire op-ed can be read at: http://ydr.com/story/op-ed/76890/
One such lesson is the critical need for our nation's intelligence and law enforcement officials to be working hand-in-hand in defending our citizens against terrorist threats. Many parties, including the highly regarded 9/11 Commission, believe that the so-called "wall" that had been erected between our intelligence gathering and law enforcement agencies contributed significantly to the federal government's failure to prevent the attacks. In the days since Sept. 11, 2001, Congress has taken steps to implement the lessons learned in order to better protect our citizens against the threat of additional terrorist attacks. One of the most important of these steps was the Patriot Act.
Asst. Attorney General: PATRIOT Act Tools are "Indispensable"
Acting Assistant Attorney General John C. Richter writes in the Daily Oklahoman that the USA PATRIOT Act's law enforcement and intelligence tools are "indispensable" to combating terrorism and are also balanced with protections for American's civil liberties.
Anti-terrorism laws have made our country safer while preserving the civil liberties that Americans hold so dear. We've all seen the devastation caused by acts of terrorism. Congress enacted laws in the wake of two of the worst tragedies in U.S. history -- the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 2001 al-Qaida terrorist attacks -- to help law enforcement detect and disrupt any terrorist threat to our citizens.
Richter's entire op-ed can be read here: http://www.newsok.com/article/1536847/
From firsthand experience as a federal prosecutor, I can tell you that we need these laws. They've made our country safer while preserving the civil liberties that Americans hold so dear.
DOJ Spokesman: Law Enforcement Regularly Reports to Congress on Use of USA PATRIOT Act
Department of Justice national spokesman Kevin Madden takes to the editorial pages of the York Dispatch (Pa.) today to make the case for the open and constant line of communication between the administration and Congress when it comes to reporting on law enforcement's use of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The Bush administration has provided over 30 witnesses to take part in more than 20 hearings and Congress and the Department of Justice's Inspector General regularly scrutinize the act and its application to ensure that rights are being respected.
Read the entire commentary by Madden here: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/Stories/0,1413,138~10028~2942268,00.html
To date, there have been no verified civil liberties complaints against the act.
The act helps law enforcement officials identify and eradicate terror cells and their members before they launch attacks against Americans.
Attorney: USA PATRIOT Act Makes America Safer
While pointing out that debate on the USA PATRIOT Act's reauthorization is a good thing, James G. Martin--U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri--writes in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch that federal law enforcement officers "need to be able to gather evidence before a tragic event occurs, not after."
From Martin's commentary:
The threat of another terrorist attack within our borders is very real. There are significant numbers of people on U.S. soil who want to harm our country. We must never let them succeed again. To do that, we must be vigilant. We must continue to pursue terrorists with every legal means available.
See Martin's entire commentary here: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/
Sixteen provisions of the Patriot Act are up for reauthorization. For those of us working in the war against terror and the fight against crime, the act is critical to helping intelligence and law enforcement agencies work together effectively, efficiently and constitutionally. We need the tools of the Patriot Act as we work to keep our nation safe from attack.
Attorney General Gonzales Reaches Out to Sheriffs on USA PATRIOT Act
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales appealed to sheriffs from around the country at their national convention in Louisville, KY yesterday, asking them to remind their communities how important the USA PATRIOT Act is when it comes to preventing terror attacks.
From the Louisville Courier-Journal's report:
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last night appealed to sheriffs from across the country to support federal initiatives against terrorism and other violent crime, including renewal of key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire later this year.
Read the entire report from the Louisville Courier-Journal here: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050627/NEWS01/506270385
"You are the strength and hope of our nation in the war against terror, in the fight against crime and the pursuit of justice," he said. "Your service and sacrifice are changing our beloved America for the better. Together we are working to establish a nation safer and more secure."
Gonzales characterized the Patriot Act as providing important and effective tools to law enforcement while at the same time being "respectful of civil liberties."
U.S. Attorney: PATRIOT Act Corrected "Major Weaknesses"
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Patrick L. Meehan, recently took to the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer and offered this defense of the USA PATRIOT Act and its importance to aiding law enforcement in their mission to identify terrorist and thwart attacks:
The Patriot Act is important because it corrected major weaknesses in our nation's pre-Sept. 11 defenses.
Read the entire commentary here: http://www.lifeandliberty.gov
First, the Patriot Act removed the "wall" that prevented our law-enforcement and foreign counterintelligence investigators from sharing information.
Second, the Patriot Act gives intelligence officials and law-enforcement officers the necessary tools to identify, apprehend, and prosecute terrorists within our borders. Court-approved legal authorities that have long been used in investigations of drug smugglers and organized crime can now be used for terrorist investigations.
Majority Supports Renewing USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act continues to receive broad support from Americans:
From Wainstein's testimony:
One piece of legislation a majority of voters support is renewal of the Patriot Act. A 57 percent majority says the Patriot Act is a good thing for America, up from 54 percent last year (April 2004). Similarly, support for extending the act is up slightly (3 percentage points), as today 56 percent support and 31 percent oppose renewing the legislation.
More about the USA PATRIOT Act's broad appeal here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,159790,00.html
By 50 percent to 35 percent voters think the Patriot Act has helped prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.
Senator Roberts: USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization is "the right thing to do"
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (KS) writes in today's Washington Times that critics of the USA PATRIOT Act are ignoring the facts about the laws built-in civil liberties protections.
Sen. Roberts writes:
I regret to say it, but the rhetoric of those opposed to permanently authorizing the act has no substance and borders on paranoia. Opponents have criticized the act for years but can cite only hypothetical abuses. Facts are stubborn things. The actual record is quite clear - there have been no substantiated allegations of abuse of Patriot Act authorities, period.
Sen. Roberts also has this passage reminding readers about congressional oversight:
Through aggressive congressional oversight, we know the FBI uses Patriot Act authorities within the law. Permanent authorization of these intelligence tools - with the modifications proposed by the committee - is the right thing to do.
Read the entire commentary by Sen. Roberts here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20050616-100902-5508r.htm
U.S. Attorney Ken Wainstein on PBS NewsHour
United States Attorney Ken Wainstein appeared as a guest on NewsHour yesterday and offered a cogent explanation of section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and how the provision is used to investigate foreign spies and international terrorists in an effort to prevent attacks here on U.S. soil.
From the NewsHour transcript:
KEN WAINSTEIN: It's a very important provision to the FBI and to law enforcement and to our national security effort. In many ways this provision is like many parts of the Patriot Act, where Congress recognized after 9/11 that we needed to give our national security investigators -- those people who are protecting us against international spies and international terrorists -- the same tools that our criminal investigators have had for years and decades.
See the entire transcript of U.S. Attorney Wainstein's appearance on NewsHour here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june05/patriot_6-16.html
This is an example of it. They are giving it -- in Section 215, Congress gave national security investigators, those people who are running down foreign spies and terrorists in our midst, the ability to obtain records just like criminal investigators can with grand jury subpoenas when they are investigating criminal cases, a vital tool that we need to use in order to track down terrorists.
There are checks and balances in the statute, a host of them. There is congressional oversight of our use of this provision, so there are many ways in which this -- which Congress made sure that we would use this provision responsibly.
US Attorney to Congress: Section 215 Protects Americans From Terrorists
In testimony before Congress in April of 2005, United States Attorney Ken Wainstein spelled out in detail why section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act is such an important law enforcement tool while simultaneously dismantling the myths that critics of the PATRIOT Act have used to malign the provision.
From Wainstein's testimony:
To some, section 215 has become known as "the library provision". This moniker, however, is a gross distortion of the provision and makes about as much sense as calling all grand jury subpoenas "library subpoenas." Section 215 does not single out or mention libraries, and the Attorney General has recently declassified that as of March 30,2005, the provision had never be used to obtain library records.
Wainstein's entire Congressional testimony can be read here: http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/subs/testimony/042805-usa-wainstein.pdf
As explained above, section 215 can be used to request the production of a wide variety of records, and library records are simply one of the types of records to which the provision could theoretically be applied. While some have called for library and bookstore records to be exempted from section 215, I think that this course of action would be a serious mistake.
Libraries should not be carved out as safe havens for terrorists and spies. We know for a fact that terrorists and spies use public libraries. In the spring of 2004, to give one example, federal investigators in New York conducted surveillance on an individual who was associated with al-Qaeda. In the course of tracking the individual, investigators noted that, although he had a computer at his home, he repeatedly visited a library to use the computer. Investigators discovered that the individual was using the library computer to e-mail other terrorist associates around the world. The library's hard drives were scrubbed after each user finished, and he used the computer at the library because he believed that the library permitted him to communicate free of any monitoring. Thankfully, this individual is now in federal custody. But this example should teach us that we should not make it more difficult to investigate a terrorist's use of a library computer than his or her use of a home computer.
Just The Facts: Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act
Section 215 provides for congressional oversight. Every six months, the Attorney General must "fully inform" Congress on how it has been implemented.
- Section 215 requires FBI agents to get a court order. Agents cannot use this authority unilaterally to compel any entity to turn over its records. FISA orders are unlike grand jury subpoenas, which are requested without court supervision.
- Section 215 has a narrow scope. It can only be used (1) "to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person"; or (2) "to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities." It cannot be used to investigate ordinary crimes, or even domestic terrorism.
- Section 215 preserves First Amendment rights. It expressly provides that the FBI cannot conduct investigations "of a United States person solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
For more facts about section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, go here: http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/subs/add_myths.htm#s215
Deputy Attorney General: PATRIOT Act Information Sharing, Oversight are Critical
Deputy Attorney General James Comey recently testified on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee about the merits of the USA PATRIOT Act. In addition to offering testimony about the different provisions of the PATRIOT Act and how they aid law enforcement in their task of identify and arresting terrorists, Comey also made a strong case for the law's reauthorization.
From Deputy Attorney General Comey's testimony:
In just the last few weeks, the Attorney General and I have met with dozens of Members of Congress to discuss these important tools. In addition, the Attorney General has appeared three times to testify. Moreover, 20 Department of Justice witnesses have appeared at 14 Congressional hearings, which have explored in depth the various tools contained in the USA PATRIOT Act. All of this activity is because Congress is rightly engaging in its critical role to conduct appropriate oversight. But Sunsets are not required to conduct oversight.
Read the entire testimony here: http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/subs/r_testimony.htm
Congress maintains its authority and responsibility to conduct oversight, to ask questions, to demand answers, even without sunsets. My concern is that sunsets on these important tools might inhibit the culture of information sharing that we are trying to foster. Rather than encouraging and empowering our agents and prosecutors to rely upon these new tools, we send a message that a particular provision may only be temporary and chill development of the culture of information sharing. As long as congressional oversight remains robust, which I am convinced it will, there is no need for sunsets.
U.S. Attorney: Bi-partisan PATRIOT Act Needs to be Reauthorized
Jonathan Gasser, acting United States Attorney for South Carolina, details the importance of the information sharing provisions and court approved surveillance tactics that the USA PATRIOT Act authorized for the law enforcement community in terror investigations.
Gasser points out in a recent opinion piece published by The State (SC) that the Justice Department and federal law enforcement officials have proceeded with caution and care paid to the civil liberties of Americans:
To date, detractors of the Patriot Act have not been able to point to a single event, episode or occurrence in which an American citizen has had his or her constitutional rights violated as a result of the enforcement of any provision of the act. Not one. The Justice Department is committed to an honest and reasonable debate and dialogue about the Patriot Act, with the ultimate goal of strengthening our ability to fight terrorism while protecting the rights and privileges afforded all citizens under our Constitution.
To read Gasser's entire opinion piece in the The State: http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/living/11875242.htm
U.S. Attorney: PATRIOT Act's Tools Keep Americans Safe From Terrorists
John McKay, the United States Attorney for the western district of Washington, relies on his experience as a federal prosecutor to deliver a comprehensive analysis of how the USA PATRIOT Act uses law enforcement tools that have been used to nab mobsters and drug kingpins in order to track terrorists and stop them before they launch attacks against Americans.
McKay writes in The Seattle Times:
For years, law enforcement has used court-approved tools to go after the mob, drug traffickers, gangs and other criminals. The Patriot Act allows use of those same court-approved tools to go after terrorists. Congress needs to renew the USA Patriot Act, giving law enforcement the tools needed to keep our country and our citizens safe.
Read John McKay's entire opinion piece here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2002331932_johnmckay13.html
President Bush: PATRIOT Act Helped Nab Terrorists
President Bush, accompanied by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, stood with law enforcement in Columbus, OH and called on Congress to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act. Speaking to an audience that included uniformed state troopers from the Ohio Patrol Training Academy, President Bush reminded Americans the PATRIOT Act has produced results when it comes to preventing terror attacks.
From today's Associated Press report:
President Bush on Thursday credited the Patriot Act with helping to convict more than 200 terrorists and dismissed accusations that the law has violated civil liberties.
See the full report: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/06/09/national/w092105D91.DTL
Bush urged lawmakers to disregard what he called "unfair criticisms of this important good law." He said the Patriot Act has been used to bring charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half have been convicted. He also said it has been used to break up terrorist cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia and Florida.
ABC News/Washington Post Poll: 6 in 10 Americans Support PATRIOT Act Renewal
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates there is considerable public support behind President Bush's call to renew the USA PATRIOT Act.
From the ABCNews.com report:
Fifty-nine percent in an ABC News/Washington Post poll favor continuing the additional investigative authority in terrorism investigations that was granted to the FBI starting in 2001. President Bush urged such an extension of the Patriot Act today.
More about ABC News/Washington Post poll: http://abcnews.go.com/US/PollVault/story?id=833703&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312
PATRIOT Act Bill Approved by Key Senate Committee
Reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act moved closer to completion yesterday as the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, approved a bill late yesterday that was achieved with bi-partisan support.
The Journal-World (KS) reports:
A renewed Patriot Act that gives the FBI more powers is a step closer to reality, thanks in large part to Sen. Pat Roberts.
According to the Associated Press...
Roberts is chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which this week approved the new bill on an 11-4 vote...
Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the bill places new checks and balances on the powers it would grant, such as new procedures that would allow people to challenge such administrative orders. He called the Patriot Act 'a vital tool in the war on terror'.
Read the entire Journal-World report here: http://www2.ljworld.com/blogs/kansas_congress/2005/jun/08/patriot/
Expert Argues the Facts on PATRIOT Act
Peter Huessy, a senior defense associate at the National Defense University Foundation, takes to the pages of the News-Press (FL) today with a spirited defense of the USA PATRIOT Act focusing on the facts about both the importance of the law enforcement tools provided by the law, as well as its constitutionality.
Critics of the Patriot Act have distorted the truth to the point where an honest debate has become extremely difficult. This is dangerous, for the act has saved countless lives and protected our national economy.
The legal tools it provides are backed up by a process requiring judicial review; they are the same tools authorities have used for decades in dealing with drug dealers and organized crime.