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CRS Report for Congress: The USA PATRIOT Act: A Sketch
Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports ^ | April 18, 2002 | Charles Doyle

Posted on 05/12/2002 1:43:03 PM PDT by michigander

Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress

CRS Report for Congress

Received through the CRS Web

Order Code RS21203
April 18, 2002

The USA PATRIOT Act: A Sketch

Charles Doyle
Senior Specialist
American Law Division


Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act (the Act) in response to the terrorists’ attacks of September 11, 2001. The Act gives federal officials greater authority to track and intercept communications, both for law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering purposes. It vests the Secretary of the Treasury with regulatory powers to combat corruption of U.S. financial institutions for foreign money laundering purposes. It seeks to further close our borders to foreign terrorists and to detain and remove those within our borders. It creates new crimes, new penalties, and new procedural efficiencies for use against domestic and international terrorists. Although it is not without safeguards, critics contend some of its provisions go too far. Although it grants many of the enhancements sought by the Department of Justice, others are concerned that it does not go far enough.

The Act originated as H.R.2975 (the PATRIOT Act) in the House and S.1510 in the Senate (the USA Act). S.1510 passed the Senate on October 11, 2001, 147 Cong. Rec. S10604 (daily ed.). The House Judiciary Committee reported out an amended version of H.R. 2975 on the same day, H.R.Rep.No. 107-236. The House passed H.R. 2975 the following day after substituting the text of H.R. 3108, 147 Cong.Rec. H6775-776 (daily ed. Oct. 12, 2001). The House version incorporated most of the money laundering provisions found in an earlier House bill, H.R. 3004, many of which had counterparts in S.1510 as approved by the Senate. The House subsequently passed a clean bill, H.R. 3162 ( under suspension of the rules), which resolved the differences between H.R. 2975 and S.1510, 147 Cong.Rec. H7224 (daily ed. Oct. 24, 2001). The Senate agreed to the changes, 147 Cong.Rec. S10969 (daily ed. Oct. 24, 2001), and H.R. 3162 was sent to the President who signed it on October 26, 2001.

This is an abbreviated versions of The USA PATRIOT Act: A Legal Analysis, CRS Report RL31377, stripped of its citations and footnotes.

Criminal Investigations: Tracking and Gathering Communications

Federal communications privacy law features a three tiered system, erected for the dual purpose of protecting the confidentiality of private telephone, face-to-face, and computer communications while enabling authorities to identify and intercept criminal communications. Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 supplies the first level. It prohibits electronic eavesdropping on telephone conversations, face-to-face conversations, or computer and other forms of electronic communications in most instances. It does, however, give authorities a narrowly defined process for electronic surveillance to be used as a last resort in serious criminal cases. When approved by senior Justice Department officials, law enforcement officers may seek a court order authorizing them to secretly capture conversations concerning any of a statutory list of offenses (predicate offenses). Title III court orders come replete with instructions describing the permissible duration and scope of the surveillance as well as the conversations which may be seized and the efforts to be taken to minimize the seizure of innocent conversations. The court notifies the parties to any conversations seized under the order after the order expires.

Below Title III, the next tier of privacy protection covers telephone records, e-mail held in third party storage, and the like, 18 U.S.C. 2701-2709 (Chapter 121). Here, the law permits law enforcement access, ordinarily pursuant to a warrant or court order or under a subpoena in some cases, but in connection with any criminal investigation and without the extraordinary levels of approval or constraint that mark a Title III interception.

Least demanding and perhaps least intrusive of all is the procedure that governs court orders approving the government’s use of trap and trace devices and pen registers, a kind of secret “caller id.”, which identify the source and destination of calls made to and from a particular telephone, 18 U.S.C. 3121-3127 (Chapter 206). The orders are available based on the government's certification, rather than a finding of a court, that use of the device is likely to produce information relevant to the investigation of a crime, any crime. The devices record no more than identity of the participants in a telephone conversation, but neither the orders nor the results they produce need ever be revealed to the participants.

Foreign Intelligence Investigations

The Act eases some of the restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States, and affords the U.S. intelligence community greater access to information unearthed during a criminal investigation, but it also establishes and expands safeguards against official abuse. More specifically, it:

Money Laundering

In federal law, money laundering is the flow of cash or other valuables derived from, or intended to facilitate, the commission of a criminal offense. It is the movement of the fruits and instruments of crime. Federal authorities attack money laundering through regulations, criminal sanctions, and forfeiture. The Act bolsters federal efforts in each area.

Regulation: The Act expands the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate the activities of U.S. financial institutions, particularly their relations with foreign individuals and entities. He is to promulgate regulations:

Crimes: The Act contains a number of new money laundering crimes, as well as amendments and increased penalties for earlier crimes. It:
Forfeiture: The Act creates two types of forfeitures and modifies several confiscationrelated procedures. It allows confiscation of all of the property of any individual or entity that participates in or plans an act of domestic or international terrorism; it also permits confiscation of any property derived from or used to facilitate domestic or international terrorism. The Constitution’s due process, double jeopardy, and ex post facto clauses may limit the anticipated breath of these provisions. Procedurally, the Act:

Alien Terrorists and Victims

The Act contains a number of provisions designed to prevent alien terrorists from entering the United States, particularly from Canada; to enable authorities to detain and deport alien terrorists and those who support them; and to provide humanitarian immigration relief for foreign victims of the attacks on September 11.

Other Crimes, Penalties, & Procedures

New crimes: The Act creates new federal crimes for terrorist attacks on mass transportation facilities, for biological weapons offenses, for harboring terrorists, for affording terrorists material support, for misconduct associated with money laundering already mentioned, for conducting the affairs of an enterprise which affects interstate or foreign commerce through the patterned commission of terrorist offenses, and for fraudulent charitable solicitation. Although strictly speaking these are new federal crimes, they generally supplement existing law by filling gaps and increasing penalties.

New Penalties: The Act increases the penalties for acts of terrorism and for crimes which terrorists might commit. More specifically it establishes an alternative maximum penalty for acts of terrorism, raises the penalties for conspiracy to commit certain terrorist offenses, envisions sentencing some terrorists to life-long parole, and increases the penalties for counterfeiting, cybercrime, and charity fraud.

Other Procedural Adjustments: In other procedural adjustments designed to facilitate criminal investigations, the Act:

A section, found in the Senate bill but ultimately dropped, would have changed the provision of federal law which requires Justice Department prosecutors to adhere to the ethical standards of the legal profession where they conduct their activities (the McDade- Murtha Amendment), 28 U.S.C. 530B.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Government

1 posted on 05/12/2002 1:43:03 PM PDT by michigander
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To: michigander
The un-Patriot Act is an adbomination to a Free Society, and should be ripped out by the roots. Anyone who supported this power grab should be publicy whipped, literally. The line for the whipping would be long. Blackbird.
2 posted on 05/13/2002 2:08:59 AM PDT by BlackbirdSST
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