The Patriot Act and Related Provisions: The Heritage Foundation's Research

Report Homeland Security

The Patriot Act and Related Provisions: The Heritage Foundation's Research

November 22, 2004 7 min read
The Heritage Foundation

The Ashcroft Legacy: Liberty and Security

by Paul Rosenzweig     

Critics will say that John Ashcroft's successes pale beside his failures, but they are wrong. Consider one example, the Patriot Act. Most of the tales of abuse and misuse are based on mistaken information. Even Russ Feingold, the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act, says that he is in favor of 90 percent of it. In fact, with respect to the so-called "Sneak and Peek" provision, Senator Feinstein has said that the law is actually an improvement for civil liberties and that it offers more protection against unlawful intrusions by law enforcement than did the pre-Patriot Act law.


Make Information-Sharing Authority Permanent

by Paul Rosenzweig

Prior to September 11, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies were limited by law in what information they could share with each other. The Patriot Act that tore down that wall, and information-sharing authorities have been put to good use since September 11. Yet, remarkably, some of these vital provisions allowing the exchange of information between law enforcement and intelligence agencies are set to expire at the end of next year. If Congress does nothing, then portions of the Patriot Act will lapse and the laws will return to where they were on the day before September 11.


The Patriot Act Reader

by Paul Rosenzweig, Alane Kochems, and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The Patriot Act is a controversial law, some provisions of which will soon require reauthorization. In the post-9/11 world, it is important to understand just what the legislation permits and what it does not… The Patriot Act has come to symbolize an overstepping of the executive branch's power. Unfortunately, that image is based largely on misinformation. This report describes specifically what powers the Patriot Act grants, the need for these powers, the safeguards built into the Patriot Act, and how it has been used so far.


What the 9/11 Commission's Report Should Contain: Four Recommendations for Making America Safer

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Paul Rosenzweig

Based on its own research and expert testimony provided in public hearings, the 9/11 Commission should offer a strong endorsement of the PATRIOT Act and encourage Congress to reauthorize the powers that are due to sunset in 2005. Both the commission's staff and witnesses testifying during public hearings have reaffirmed the importance of the law in improving national counterterrorism operations while also finding no specific faults with checks and balances provided in the law to ensure that law enforcement authorities are properly employed.


Aiding Terrorists: An Examination of the Material Support Statute

by Paul Rosenzweig

Rosenzweig testifies to Congress on the challenge of maintaining the balance between security and constitutionally protected freedoms inherent in responding to the threat of terror, especially in the context of government investigations of terrorist organizations. Critics of the 'material support' provisions of the Patriot Act overlook that Congress attempted to carefully construct a balanced and nuanced approach that both recognized the liberty interests at stake and understood the necessity of enhanced investigative authority. Put simply, these provisions to not impinge upon Americans' First Amendment rights.


The SAFE Act Will Not Make Us Safer

by Edwin Meese, III, and Paul Rosenzweig

Opponents argue that various provisions of the Patriot Act, and related laws and practices, have greatly infringed upon American liberties while failing to deal effectively with the threat of terrorism, but the case for change has not been made. This paper considers the provisions of a proposed Patriot Act replacement and finds them lacking in comparison.


A Patriotic Day: 9/11 Commission Recognizes Importance of the Patriot Act

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Paul Rosenzweig

During a recent public hearing of the 9/11 Commission, present and former government officials and even the Commissioners themselves emphasized the importance of one new tool adopted after September 11: the Patriot Act. They all agreed that the Patriot Act is an essential weapon in the nation's global war on terrorism. Congress should take note and, as President Bush called for in the State of the Union Address, act now to reauthorize provisions in the law due to expire next year.


Better Intelligence Sharing for Visa Issuance and Monitoring: An Imperative for Homeland Security

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Ha Nguyen

Better intelligence sharing for the visa issuance process is a crucial aspect of the war on terrorism. Through legislation like the Patriot Act which requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share information in its National Crime Information Center with immigration services and the U.S. Department of State the Administration and Congress have laid out a road map for achieving better intelligence sharing.


Are We Safer Today Than Before 9/11?

by Jack Spencer and Ha Nguyen

The United States has taken concrete steps that will make the nation safer in the long run if the American government and public remain committed to the monumental task at hand. Of these steps, the Patriot Act is one of the most important and substantial.


What the Joint Inquiry into 9/11's Report Says About Today's Needs

by Michael Scardaville

The report of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, describes a systematic failure of the United States intelligence community to respond to the then emerging terrorist threat. The Patriot Act relieves many of the obstacles in the domestic intelligence process and in integrating foreign and domestic intelligence.


Anti-Terrorism Investigations and the Fourth Amendment After September 11: Where and When can the Government go to Prevent Terrorist Attacks?

by Paul Rosenzweig

In this testimony to the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Rosenzweig discusses the challenge of maintaining the balance between security and constitutionally protected freedoms inherent in responding to the threat of terror, especially in the government investigations and data mining. Rosenzweig sets out the principles of law enforcement under the Fourth Amendment and applies them to data mining and FBI investigative guidelines.


Securing Freedom And The Nation: Collecting Intelligence Under The Law

by Paul Rosenzweig     

The government's case against Sami Al-Arian is apparently based upon foreign counter-intelligence wiretap intercepts that date back as far as 1993. According to the Department of Justice, however, it was not until the passage of the USA Patriot Act that the intelligence community felt it was lawfully in a position to provide that information to law enforcement officials at DOJ and the FBI.


Principles for Safeguarding Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism

by Paul Rosenzweig

Most take it for granted that the events of September 11 require that the government institute new homeland protection measures, yet also believe that some proposals are clearly excessive. As this paper describes, there are effective ways to limit the ability of the government to intrude into Americans' lives while increasing security. America can and must adhere to fundamental and firm principles of limited government, and it can do so while also answering the terrorist threat.


9/11 One Year Later: Progress and Promise

by Michael Scardaville and Jack Spencer

The Patriot Act gives law enforcement the ability to combat terrorists with 21st century technology, provides additional personnel for securing the northern border, expresses the sense of Congress that a mechanism is needed to monitor entry and exit of visa holders, requires the FBI to share more information with the Department of State, and makes it more difficult for terrorists to enter the country and easier to deport them by redefining "terrorist activity" for immigration purposes.


The New Agenda for Homeland Security

by Larry M. Wortzel, Ph.D. and Michael Scardaville

The President should begin immediately to review regulations that limit the ability of the Department of Defense to cooperate with other federal, state, and local law enforcement or intelligence organizations. Congress is drafting legislation to remove obstacles to greater information sharing between the intelligence community and civil law enforcement entities. It is necessary to foster greater exchange of information and operations.


New Terrorist Threats and How to Counter Them

by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer

In this 2000 lecture, Paul Bremer looks at the international terrorist threat and the tools that the United States needs to combat it.


Combating Terrorism in the Wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing

by James A. Phillips
The U.S. needs a systematic and comprehensive counterterrorism policy to defend against, deter, prevent, and punish terrorism. The FBI's ability to monitor domestic terrorist groups has been undermined by restrictive guidelines that prevent it from gathering information on possible terrorist activity unless the group in question has committed, or is known to be plotting, a terrorist attack. The guidelines on domestic intelligence gathering need to be revised to permit federal law enforcement agencies to monitor the activities of organizations that clearly indicate their support of terrorism.


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