Three Provisions of the PATRIOT Act and Summary of the Foiled Terrorist Plot





Three Provisions of the PATRIOT Act and Summary of the Foiled Terrorist Plot

The PATRIOT Act was passed by the congress of the United States as a response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It enhanced surveillance procedures and provided more power to the agencies involved. The first provision under title 1 provides for civil liberties and authorizes secret service agencies to conduct a nationwide electronic crime investigation. The provision also allows the president to confiscate any property of a foreigner believed to aid in terrorist attacks. This provision helps the security agency in surveillance of suspected terrorist, as well as incapacitating their financial ability of engaging in terrorist acts.

Another provision is contained in Title II that broadens law enforcement agencies’ ability to conduct surveillance on foreign individuals. It allows incepting of communication and sharing of information with federal authorities. It provides for roving surveillance that gives the officer mandate to use any communication inception method available irrespective of where the person is. This increases the chances of getting any information that would be hard to get under normal surveillance. The other provision is the National Security Letter, NSLs. The FBI is allowed to issue NSL without having to seek a court order. This allows the security agency to demand various records of an individual ranging from bank accounts to phone and internet connections. Although used prior to this act, the provision reduces standards required for obtaining NSLs. This allows the collection of all available information that could be lost if a notice was offered.

Between 2008 and 2010, several terrorist attacks planned on America have been foiled by law enforcement agencies. An example of a foiled attack was the one planned by Michael Finton on September 2009 (McNeill, Carafano & Zuckerman, 2010). He was an American citizen who expressed the desire to become a jihad fighter. He was arrested by FBI agents after he attempted to detonate a car bomb loaded with almost one ton of explosives. This has been possible due to coordinated efforts between law enforcement agencies and provisions in the PATRIOT Act that allow surveillance of suspects and seizing of property and information. Prior to the attempted attack, the suspect had communicated with an undercover agent who posed as an Al Qaeda operative (McNeill et al., 2010). Through surveillance, the FBI was able to track his movement and activities that led to his arrest.




McNeill, J.B., Carafano, J.J. & Zuckerman, J. (2010). 30 Terrorist Plots Foiled: How the System Worked. Retrieved from




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