The US Patriot Act Section 218 has been important in the US efforts to fight terrorism. One of the major goals of implementing section 218 is to promote the coordination between the intelligence and law enforcement authorities when investigating terror suspects (Wong, 182). The section plays a role in the US “war on terrorism” by complimenting integrated antiterrorism campaign. Foreign intelligence officials are given the authority to conduct physical searches or to wiretap people who may be suspected of terrorism.
In order for this to occur, the Foreign Intelligence officials must obtain a search order from the FISA. When implemented, the section 218 has been acknowledged for its role is removing the “wall” that earlier existed between law enforcement and intelligence probes. The “wall” acted as a setback to the legal information sharing and coordination between the two and since the enactment of section 218 and its implementation, the full coordination between the law enforcement and intelligence departments has contributed to the success of US efforts to combat terror.
For example, the implementation of section 218 together with section 504 is attributed to the dismantling of “Portland seven”. “Portland seven” is a popular term that refers to Oregon terror cell that was dismantled after the implementation of section 218 and 504. The members of the terror cell were associated with terror activities since some had tried to enter Afghanistan in order to work together with the Al Qaeda and the Taliban against the US. In addition, one member of the terror cell was confirmed to contemplate on attacking synagogues or Jewish schools.
Due to the provisions made in section 218, adequate information was gathered and made available for agents and prosecutors to charge the defendants. This enabled them to secure both prison sentences and convictions for the defendants. The implementation of section 218 allows change in certification requirement when the US government requires a search order. Before the adoption of section 218, FISA used to issue a search order only when the government certified that obtaining foreign intelligence information was the sole purpose of investigating a suspect.
The implementation of section 218 now demands that the US government can be issued with a search order if it is able to certify that an application has a “significant purpose”. This requirement has facilitated the sharing of information between the intelligence and the law enforcement officials. The investigations conducted by the two departments are no longer separated by the law. One way through which section 218 when implemented can assist in adequate information gathering is by allowing thorough physical searches and electronic surveillance to be done on terror suspects (Etzioni, p 143).
The information obtained may be crucial for foreign intelligence purposes. Before section 218 was implemented, the FISA restricted criminal investigations overlap and its requirement based on “purpose” hindered the sharing of information between the law enforcement and foreign intelligence officials. The enactment of the Patriotic Act and the implementation of section 218 are deemed by some people as very appropriate and critical in the war against terror. This is due to the section’s role in enhancing collaboration of the US government agencies in fighting terrorism.
Despite the positive impact of the Act, controversy risen from the implementation of section 218. The authority that has been given to the intelligence officials is considered to promote spying and undermining of civil liberty of both the American and non-American citizens. Good implementation of section 218 has been significant in fighting terror because the law enforcement authorities and intelligence officials can gather adequate information about terror suspects (Mailman, p 52).
The change from “purpose” to “significant purpose” in relation to investigation based on section 218 now enables the Federal Bureau of Investigation to obtain wiretap orders from FISA even when an investigation may be primary criminal in nature.. Therefore, investigations may be directed towards US citizens who are not terrorists. For example, the implementation of the section has made it possible for investigators to monitor communications and to search a suspects’ home . The secret investigations conducted by the FBI are considered to be an invasion of privacy and a setback in respect for civil liberty.
Evidence that may be obtained from intelligent wiretaps based on section 218 can be admissible in criminal prosecutions. However, since probable cause of crime requirement may fail to be met by searches that are done to gather evidence of crime, the court may exclude evidence that is obtained from the surveillance. The Patriot Act section 218 provides the US president who is also the commander in chief to use any necessary means to prevent terror attacks on the Impact of Section 218 in the United States
One advantage of section 218 in the US is that if facilitates efforts by the United States security agencies to gather vital information that is used to fight terror (The US State Department, np). According to the goals of the Patriot Act, the Act should be able to provide the US government with appropriate tools that should intercept and obstruct terrorism. Section 218 has become a tool of intercepting and obstructing terrorism when it allows secret searches and electronic surveillance of suspects of terror.
The implementation of the section has led to the gathering of adequate information to prosecute suspects of terrorism, and this has been a good move in combating terror. The relaxed standards for surveillance means that US citizens and foreigners can be subjected to physical searches and communication monitoring when the FBI finds its necessary to do so. The government which has a responsibility to provide security to all its citizens is committed to fighting terror that threatens the security of US citizens.
Through section 218, the US government has managed to use legal authority to search for evidence through secret searches and records. The Patriotic Act in section 218 allows legal sharing of information between the US law enforcement and intelligence officials which has been very important in the US because it has eliminated the separation that existed between the two departments’ investigations. This separation has been referred to as the “wall”. The “wall” was removed when the enactment of patriotic Act section 218 allowed the issuing of a search order of FISA based on “significant purpose” unlike the earlier requirements of a search.
The coordination between the intelligence and law enforcement authorities has contributed to success of US government in fighting terror. When information is gathered secretly by intelligence and law enforces about terrorism, prosecutors and agents in the US can be able to obtain adequate information or evidence that can be used to give prison sentences or conviction to the defendants . Furthermore, US citizens who may have ties with foreign powers or organizations can be subjected to physical searches at home or have their telephone communication monitored.
The search which should be done in secret has enabled the authorities to counter terrorism and to stop terror attacks when the plans of terror attacks are discovered. On the other hand, authority given by section 218 to the FBI creates room for home break-ins which is seen as an invasion of one’s privacy and violation of rights. Based on section 218, foreigners in the United States are subjected to searches and monitoring. Thorough searches are conducted on people who may be perceived to be terrorists or collaborating with terrorists (Van Bergen, p 63).
For example, Muslims and Islam groups in the US complain that they experience searches frequently. This seems to be straining the US – Muslim relations. This is due to the association of terrorism to Islam extremists. If the US government can show that there is a foreign intelligence basis for surveillance or searches, it can obtain authority to conduct searches without public knowledge. In addition, section 218 has encouraged effective implementation of court orders when dealing with cases of terrorism.