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Intelligence and the USA PATRIOT Act

Intelligence and the USA PATRIOT Act

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act, or simply the Patriot Act) has generated a great deal of controversy since its enactment just weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Critics argue that the Act was passed opportunistically and hastily after September 11, that it is too broad, and that some of its provisions go too far. Proponents of the Act, on the other hand, are concerned that it does not go far enough; however, its provisions have greatly enhanced information sharing in the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

You are an intelligence analyst for the Department of Homeland Security assigned to the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHS-OIA). As an intelligence analyst in the intelligence community, you participate in a law enforcement and intelligence working group. The working group consists of analysts and officers throughout the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities who meet monthly to discuss various topics relevant to homeland security. During a recent meeting, the topic of the Patriot Act came up for discussion and debate. As the representative from DHS-OIA, you were asked by your law enforcement peers for your opinion, from an intelligence community perspective, on the Patriot Act and whether or not you felt it has enhanced information sharing between the communities.

Primary Task Response: Within the Discussion Board area, write 400–600 words that respond to the following questions with your thoughts, ideas, and comments. This will be the foundation for future discussions by your classmates. Be substantive and clear, and use examples to reinforce your ideas:

  • Do you feel that the Act has enhanced information sharing between the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities? Why or why not?
    • Specifically, what advantages or disadvantages has each individual community experienced? Explain.
  • Does the Patriot Act infringe on American citizens’ constitutional rights? Why or why not?
    • Some feel that the Act is too broad, with little to no oversight. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  • What effects do you think repealing or significantly modifying the Patriot Act would have on information sharing between the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities? Explain.
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Category: Sample Questions