The US Patriot Act

This essay will generate the ideas of the role between border security and counter terrorism with regards to the US Patriot Act. The subcategories that will discuss along side this theory are the lack of border security both south of the United States and north. The policy of the United States toward immigration will also give the paper a close up of the detriment illegal aliens who are not apprehended will do not only the status of the economy but to national terrorism. In the emergence of a lax border security, finally, the issue of this juxtaposed with the opportunity that exists for terrorists to exploit.

In order for a more substantial argument to evolve in this paper a brief history with terrorism and border control will be discussed as well as the history of the US Patriot Act and other issues in the past with the United States concerning immigration, illegal aliens, and terrorists. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there have been many changes in the ways the United States government functions. The first act of alteration to the normal code of conduct was the drafting and passage of the USA PATRIOT Act.

There are many who see this act as a bold defense against the fear of terrorism for the American public, however, a growing number of people see the changes in American governmental policy and overall attitude towards enemies and allies alike as an affront against proper American values and freedom. As Andrew Kydd and Barbara Walter explain, there is a distinct politic to the notion of terrorism. However, these tactics are not always effective. There are many events of terrorism in the world each year, yet only handfuls are regarded with any merit.

According to Kydd and Walter, through a well-argued and insightful article, it is “the trust between groups” that must be destroyed for an extremist attack to be successful. This is the motivation behind the response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. On December 6, 2001, then Attorney General John Ashcroft addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee in praise of this act, and it’s restructuring of the NSA, CIA and FBI. (Ashcroft 524) His rhetoric was patriotic and concise, and his views of the USA PATRIOT act and its changes seemed sincere.

This was supported with the passage of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, which paved the road for the Patriot act itself. Eric Rosand wrote about the resolution in 2003. His response to its necessity was one of sympathy to the government, for having to face such a difficult challenge. However, not everyone who has commented on the alterations of the US governmental policy has done so with such reverence. David Cole compared the investigations into possible terrorist cells in the United States, to the “Palmer Raids” of 1919 – where, following a series of bombings, J.

Edgar Hoover led a series of “round ups” of immigrants across the country and held them without trial or charge in “unconscionable conditions, interrogated incommunicado and in some cases tortured”. (Cole, 529) This attitude has spread throughout the country, as the appearance of impropriety has permeated the government’s handling of the terrorist’s investigations. Mary Jacoby brings up the question of the legal definition of “Detainee”. This is in response to the holding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba.

The prisoners of this facility have been acquired from around the world – from the war in Afghanistan, and from arrests done in dozens of countries around the world. However, the problem arises when the soldiers fighting for the Afghan military are brought in as detainees, rather than prisoners of war. While the Guantanamo prison has its apologists, such as Charles Krauthammer – who states that freeing of these men would be “lunacy” (Jacoby, 537) – the fact remains, that in strict terms, the United States is in break of the Geneva Convention by holding POWs.

The United States government however sees this detention as necessary. The United States also enlists other tactics involving border control. The United States since September 11 has kept a more watchful eye on the Mexican border to ensure that large trucks are not passing the borders which could hold weapons, but this seems to be the only action officials and military are taking in regards to border control according to Zagorin (2004) in The Mexican Border Will Get a Closer Look.

In this article Zagorin is hard pressed to find any true action the US is taking in regards to border control and Zagorin sites many examples of how Mexico is making its own efforts to decreased the chances al-Qaeda terrorists coming into the country or leaving the country, “The Mexicans will also focus on flight schools and aviation facilities on their side of the frontier. …another episode has some senior U. S.

officials worried; the theft of a crop-duster aircraft south of San Diego, apparently by three men from southern Mexico who assaulted a watchman and then flew off in a southerly direction… a senior U. S. law-enforcement official notes that crop dusters can be sued to disperse toxic substance…”(Zagorin, 19). In contrast to the underlying belief of the lax nature in Zagorin’s article Andreas (2003) holds a very different opinion in his article Perspective.

This article gives details about the before and after September 11 border security in the United States dealing with both the Mexican and Canadian border. Prior to September 11 the United States focused its energy on deterring the flow of drugs between the borders. Thus the paradigm by which the United States is equipped in handling border security in regards to terrorism is very infantile in design because their previous focus has been on migrant workers and masses of illegal immigrants rather than to search a crowd and discover a few terrorists (Zagorin, 4).

Another issue that arises in the approach of the Mexican border is that the south border of the United States received much more attention than the Canadian border, “…only 334 agents were assigned to the 5,525-mile northern border compared with over 9,000 agents stationed at the 2,062-mile southern edge” (Zagorin, 4), however, since September 11 there are an equal amount of agents patrolling both borders. Under the Patriot Act, as stated previously, the number of agents present in the Canadian border has tripled in a response to September 11.

In an effort to stop terrorism, the US coastguard now stops every boat crossing the Great Lakes as well as escorting large tankers. Thus, Andreas states that these new border securities have merely taken the old ideas of drug trafficking measures and applied them to terrorism which makes for an increase of difficulty in border control (Andreas, 5). Fernando Reinares noted in his article, The Empire Rarely Strikes Back, that after “more than 2400 acts of terrorism against American citizens and interests” there have been only “three occasions of overt military response”.

(Reinares 92) However, because of the incredible size and depth of impact of the September 11th attacks, war became unavoidable. There did arise a problem with the military action, however, as a growing public opinion seemed to point the target as Islam itself, rather than just Al-Qaeda. This prompted the United States to “enlist the help of as many Islamic nations as possible” to counter act this perception. (Aretxega 143) This coalition of Islamic nations does nothing to counteract the rise in racial profiling within the United States.

Sherry Colb wrote about the foreseen changes in American law enforcement following the September 11th attacks. Her article articulated the problem of racial profiling and its consequences. Cold notes, “real numbers do not support profiling”. (Colb, 539) However this does not stop the utilization of profiling in airports, or in traffic stops. However, this too has its supporters, from such sources as law professor Roger Clegg.

His response to the topic of racial profiling is one of acceptance and justification. “So what? ” (Clegg, 542) Clegg asks of the act of profiling. However his racial make up lends it easily to such opinions, as an educated white male is rarely accosted for being white, educated or male. But profiling at the borders is the number one cause by which patrols see fit to apprehend an individual since they fit the profile and the Patriot Act backs up the idea of border security no matter the cost.

The changes in the United States since September 2001 have been many and wide in scope, however there is little consensus as to whether these changes are for the better – or even legal. As illustrated in these articles, the several aspects of governmental policy that have been affected by these attacks have been met with acceptance and praise, as well as contempt and ridicule – with articulate and sincere arguments on both sides. Though, despite the articulate nature of the arguments, they do not dissuade one from his or her own opinion.

It is the learned set of moral values that create one’s opinion of the new America. The issue of border control seems increasingly to be an issue of economics and as much as the United States focuses its attention on increasing patrol it is also hindering trade between countries and so the lax behavior or approach in certain instances of policing and allowing immigrants to cross borders presents to the theorist that increased border control does not necessarily lead to a more protected country.

In Kiely’s (2006) article GOP View, she states that the United States is more focused on illegal immigration than terrorism and using terrorism as a guise by which to exert an autocratic policing style which does not give rights to immigrants, “A bill the House passed in December called for making illegal immigration a felony offense, punishable by at least a year in jail…Under the law, people who cross the border without permission are already guilty of a criminal misdemeanor.

But people who enter the country legally and then overstay their visas—as many as 40% of the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, according to Sensenrenner—are guilty of a civil violation” (Kiely, 1). Thus it becomes apparent that the United States is focusing more attention on illegal immigration than on terrorism since all of their efforts are geared toward this goal. Since the United States has merely adapted their approach to finding terrorists in the same fashion by which they find illegal immigrants there seems to exist a very unreliable system.

The terrorists that entered the country each had different ways to travel, false papers of identification and would have been apprehended if the border security had not been as lax as they had been and since their approach to border control has not changed dramatically as a system but merely as having more patrols and policing the gate is left open for terrorism, as The US 9/11 Commission on Border Control (2004), states, “We found that as many as 15 of the 19 hijackers were potentially vulnerable to interception by border authorities.

Analyzing their characteristic travel documents and travel patterns could have allowed authorities to intercept 4 of the 15 hijackers and more effective use of information available in U. S. government databases could have identified up to 3 hijackers” (The US 9/11 Commission 570).

Since these hijackers could have been apprehended but were not, and the government has only increased the number of patrols on the either border and not per se the system by which illegal immigrants are apprehended it stands to reason that the government is not altogether prepared or establishing a methodology in apprehending terrorists, they are merely cracking down by using brute force without strategy, …routine operations of our immigration laws—inevitably shaped al Qaeda’s planning and opportunities.

Because they were deemed not to be bona fide tourists or students as they claimed, five conspirators that we know of tried to get visas and failed… We also found that had the immigration system set a higher bar for determining whether individuals are who or what they claim to be—and ensuring consequences for violations—(570). Thus, the article emphasized the lack of a system in uncovering terrorism as part of border security. The number one priority of preventing terrorism is to prevent terrorist travel.

This tactic however has not been serious employed with regards to border security and finding and preventing terrorism since the focus as previously stated is more about finding terrorists not finding the means by which they are mobile. One system that has not be utilized in border security is the means by which to detect whether documentation is authentic since terrorists have system by which they infiltrate a country their travel channels should be found and exploited but no real clause in the Patriot Act has been given or stated.

Terrorists establish themselves in the United States through their travel channels by which there is a paper trail of documents; therefore, the Patriot Act, and NAFTA should not only be focusing their efforts at the borders where the terrorists may or may not be traversing but the government should also be wary of terrorist activity already transpiring inside the country, as The US 9/11 Commission on Border Control, “Each of these checkpoints or portals is a screening-a chance to establish that people are who they say they are and are seeking access for their stated purpose, to intercept identifiable suspects, and to take effective action” (The US 9/11 Commission 571).

This paper has shown that although the United States is refocusing efforts on border control their methodology has not been new in design as counter terrorism efforts call for, but instead the United States seems to have merely increased the number of patrols across the border and not changed the system by which they seek out terrorists. In the information presented in this paper it gave different avenues by which the United States could be making a better effort to fight terror by simply having a different strategy on terrorism inclusive of finding their travel channels and relying on identification and false passports. The United States approach to border control, since they are using the same system now as prior to September 11 have not changed how they approach terrorists and their apprehension thus leaving room terrorists to take advantage of this lax method and exploit it.

Work Cited

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