The arrest of four men in New York earlier this week for planning to bomb synagogues and shoot down military aircraft underscores the progress the U.S. intelligence community has made. The videotapes show the four men were enthusiastic participants in this plot. It does appear that the head Imam of the Masjid Al-Ikhlas mosque and others need to explain their actions. They were aware of offers of $25,000 payments to commit terrorism and they did nothing.
“It’s hard to imagine a more chilling plot. These were people who were eager to bring death to Jews, and they are extremely violent men,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Snyder. FBI Special Agent Robert Fuller said, “The information provided by the informant during the course of this and other investigations has proven to be accurate and reliable and has been corroborated by other evidence.” NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “I think we should walk away from this feeling better and safer about New York than ever before.”
Many stories such as this have appeared since 9/11. Potential terrorists are now in custody because the USA Patriot Act has been successful. Because of this legislation for the first time the FBI and the CIA can work together. Various federal law enforcement agencies are now collecting and sharing information, and they have gained access to information and communications of terrorists that was not possible in the past.
Before the Patriot Act, the FBI and the CIA were prohibited from communicating. The legislation enabled the monitoring of conversations among multiple terror suspects more quickly and efficiently. It was necessary because terrorists often discontinue their phones lines or change cell phones frequently.
It gave law enforcement agencies permission to listen in on any phone being used by a terror suspect. Prior to the Patriot Act’s passage in October 2001, law enforcement could wiretap only a landline — and authorities needed to acquire separate court approvals for every phone line they tapped. The Patriot Act recognizes modern technology, and blackberries and disposable cell phones are no longer safe for them. Voicemail can be accessed through a search warrant rather than a court order.
In March of this year FBI director Robert Mueller said the Patriot Act was “exceptionally helpful.”
As recognized in the Declaration of Independence, the first responsibility of government is to preserve the lives and liberty of the people. Within the boundaries of the Constitution, the Patriot Act has been an enormous success in stopping the people who want to kill Americans on U.S. soil.
Instead of providing a single example of the Patriot Act being misused, opponents make frightening, unsubstantiated claims that the Patriot Act is a virtual roll back of the First Amendment.