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Fact Sheet: The Patriot Act Helps Keep America Safe

June 09, 2005

The Patriot Act Helps Keep America Safe

Today's Presidential Action

Today, President Bush Delivered Remarks In Columbus, Ohio, On The Patriot Act's Role In Winning The War On Terror. The President talked about the vital contribution the Patriot Act has made to protecting our homeland and saving American lives, and called upon Congress to renew 16 provisions set to expire at the end of the year.

  • The Patriot Act Has Helped Prosecutors Take Legal Action Against Terrorist Operatives And Their Supporters. Since September 11th, the United States has charged over 400 suspected terrorists, and more than half of those charged have already been convicted.
  • Law Enforcement Agents At The Federal, State, And Local Levels Rely On The Patriot Act Every Day. The Patriot Act has helped them break up terrorist cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Florida.

Background: The Patriot Act Makes It Easier To Investigate Suspected Terrorists Within The United States.

The Patriot Act Encourages Information Sharing By Breaking Down The Wall Between Law Enforcement And Intelligence.

  • Before The Patriot Act, Criminal Investigators Were Separated From Intelligence Officers By A Legal And Bureaucratic Wall. The Patriot Act helped tear down this wall, giving law enforcement and intelligence officers the ability to share information, work together, and bring terrorists to justice.
  • Information Sharing Has Made A Difference. Two years ago, FBI agents in Ohio confronted Iyman Faris, and he was charged with providing support to al-Qaida after he, among other things, agreed to take part in a plot to destroy a New York City bridge. The capture came after an investigation that involved more than a dozen agencies in the Southern Ohio Joint Terrorism Task Force that was made possible by the Patriot Act. According to one FBI agent, "The Faris case would not have happened without sharing information. We would never have even had the lead."

The Patriot Act Gave Law Enforcement Agents The Ability To Use Tools Against Terrorists That Are Already Available Against Other Criminals.

  • The Patriot Act Corrected Pointless Double Standards. Before the Patriot Act, it was easier to use a wiretap against a person committing mail fraud, or track the phone contacts of a drug dealer, or get the credit card receipts of a tax cheat, than to use these respective tools against a foreign terrorist.
  • Roving Wiretaps Are Essential In Investigating International Terrorists. The Patriot Act extended the use of roving wiretaps, which were already permitted against drug kingpins and mob bosses, to international terrorism investigations. They must be approved by a judge. Without roving wiretaps, terrorists could elude law enforcement by simply purchasing a new cell phone.

The Patriot Act Brings The Law Into The 21st Century By Giving Law Enforcement Agents The Tools They Need To Fight New Kinds Of Crimes.

  • The Patriot Act Updates The Law To Meet New Threats Like Computer Espionage And Cyber Terrorism. One common-sense provision allows Internet providers, without fear of being sued, to give information to law enforcement when it would help law enforcement prevent a threat of death or serious injury.

Many Safeguards Exist To Ensure The Patriot Act Is Applied Responsibly.

  • Judicial Oversight Protects The Privacy Of Americans. Wiretaps and search warrants require a high level of proof and permission from a judge. The tools in the Patriot Act are fully consistent with the U.S. Constitution. As Senator Diane Feinstein said, "I have no reported abuses."
  • Congress Also Has Oversight Responsibilities. Congress created a Civil Liberties Board to ensure the Patriot Act and other laws uphold civil liberties. The Patriot Act protects America and defends American liberties.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: The Patriot Act Helps Keep America Safe Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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