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Dragos Sfinteanu
10-06-2003, 11:10 PM
Patriot Act used broadly, U.S. says.
Powers applied to cases with no terror links.

By Eric Lichtblau, New york Times.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.

The government is using its expanded authority under the far-reaching law to investigate alleged drug-traffikers, white-collar criminals, black-mailers child pornographers, money launderers, spies and even corrupt foreign leaders, federal officials said.

Justice Department officials say they are simply using all the tools now available to them to pursue criminals - terrorists or otherwise. But critics of the administration's anti-terrorism tactics assert that such use of the law is evidence that the administration has sold the American public a false bill of goods, using terrorism as a guise to pursue a broader law enforcement agenda.

Justice Department Officials point out that they have employed their newfound powers in many instances against terrorism suspects. With the new law breaking down the wall between intelligence and criminal investigations, the Justice Department in February was able to bring terrorism-related charges against a Florida professor, for example, and it has used its expanded surveilance powers to move against several alleged terrorist cells.

But a new Justice Department report, given to members of Congress this month, also cites more than a dozen cases that are not directly related to terrorism. In them, federal authorities have used their expnded power to investigate individuals, initiate wiretapes and other surveilance, or seize millions in tainted assets.

For instance, the ability to secure nationwide warrants to obtain e-mail and electronic evidence "has proved invaluable in several sensitive non-terrorism investigations", including the traking of an unidentified fugitive and an investigation into a computer hacker who stole a company's trade secrets, the report said.

The authorities have also used toughened penalties under the law to press charges against a lovesick 20-year-old woman from Orange County who planted threatening notes abroad a Hawaii-bound cruise ship she was traveling on with her family in May.

The woman, who said she made the threats to try to return home to her boyfriend, was sentenced last week to two years in federal prison because of a provision in the Patriotic Act about the threat of terrorism against mass-transportation systems.

The law, passed by Congress just five weeks after the terror attacks of Sept.11,2001, has already drawn sharp opposition from those who believe it gives the government too much power to intrude on people's privacy in pursuit of terrorists.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "once the American public understands that many of the powers granted to the federal government apply to much more than just terrorism, I think the opposition will gain momentum."

Justice Department officials said such criticism has not deterred them. "There are many provisions in the Patriotic Act that can be used in the general criminal law", Mark Corallo, a department official, said.

"And I think any reasonable person would agree that we have an obligation to do everything we can to protect the lives and liberties of Americans from attack, wether it's from terrorists or garden-variety criminals."

Chad Rapier -
10-07-2003, 09:31 PM
but sometimes I fear my government.

Dragos Sfinteanu
10-09-2003, 02:28 PM
A practical issue related to the topic could be an increased opportunity for PI to be hired for government assignments. Could this become a possible trend?

Tana Fritts
10-21-2003, 04:45 PM
I kind of think it's a good idea to put tougher penalties to some of the lesser crimies. I don't really feel sorry for the women in the article. Just because she misses someone doesn't mean she has the right to scare other people. My husband has been to Saudi and Jordan, and I've missed him terribly while he was gone but, that doesn't mean I'm going to send threatening letters to the government making false statments like, "I'm going to blow up the pentagon if you don't bring my husband home". Not only does it scare everyone who works there it is also a threat to our security. I think I should be punished for something as juvenile as that. Maybe if people know that they will be punished more harshly for certain things then they will think twice before doing it.

Dragos Sfinteanu
10-25-2003, 10:29 AM
Originally posted by Tana Fritts

"Not only does it scare everyone who works there it is also a threat to our security....
Maybe if people know that they will be punished more harshly for certain things then they will think twice before doing it"


You are right, Tana. Sometimes "certain things" scare everyone, creating a psychosis of panic that is ultimately a threat for our security.

Dragos

David Fowler
10-27-2003, 09:35 AM
Great article Dragos

I wonder about this Patriot Act. Like you I love my country and was a member of the first wave of the all volunteer military. Air Force. I was required to take an oath to protect the country and uphold the Constitution. I gladly raised my hand and swore to do just that. But in reality, I was already pledged in my mind to do that. Just from being lucky enough to be born here. That oath is implied by my birth certificate. But now, we're getting to the point where we are legislated into compliance with some rules and ideas that may one day prove to be our undoing. We've become so PC in most areas that we are easily goaded into thinking that what's good for the USA is good for us. You can't legislate right thinking. You can't expect people to live up to the ideals that our forefathers brought here when you take away the things that made this country the greatest nation on earth in probably the shortest time in history. We are still a baby compared to most other civilized nations and we basically run the show. I think that came originally from our faith and trust in God and our belief that God had a special plan for our nation. We are daily eliminating that faith and belief. I really hope that the people who want to eliminate In God We Trust from our money and symbols and who want to eliminate one nation under God from our pledge of allegience fail miserably. I'm not a Bible thumper or Holy roller. I am a Christian and I believe that God has allowed us to rise to greatness to show that He lifts up those who lift Him up. We need to be careful and watchful and not let special interest groups and PC factions take that away. If we do, we might as well get ready for some other nation to come and take all our freedom away.

David Wayne Cash
10-27-2003, 01:22 PM
Thanks for the article Dragos.

Larry Lewis -
10-27-2003, 03:12 PM
Originally posted by David Fowler
what's good for the USA is good for us.

Dave,

I pretty much agree with your comments.

However, I am concerned with those folks out there that feel "what's good for ME is good for the USA ". That is when we get into taking "In God We Trust" off money and "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Thankfully, we still have the court systems to help define laws such as this. And a Constitution that backs up the courts.

I am sure that this Patriot Act will have its share of tests before long. Hopefully, the truly good parts of it will stand and those that are questionable will be better defined.

Thank you, Dragos, for starting this thread. I am not sure that this will create additional opportunities for PI's. It seems to mainly pertain to law enforcement officials. However, it does give us another view of how we can work with those officials.

Dragos Sfinteanu
10-28-2003, 03:19 AM
David, Wayne, Larry,

Thank you. I am glad I started this thread since the debate uncovers deep feelings and senitive concerns.



Originally posted by David Fowler

"You can't expect people to live up to the ideals that our forefathers brought here when you take away the things that made this country the greatest nation on earth..."


Well said, David. A great nation can not live without the great ideals proclaimed at its birth, like freedom and faith. The faith in God.

The best proof is life itself. A century ago Russia was a great country. The Russians were extremely religious, having a strong faith in God. In Moscow there were 1,600 churches.

The Bolshevik Revolution (1917) replaced the authoritarian system of tars with a bloody dictature, demagogicaly named “the proletarian dictature”. In order to implement the concepts of this dictature in people’s minds the communists tried to destroy their faith in God (all Ten Commandments were totally opposed to the revolutionary concepts). The first stage of the fight against Faith was the extermination of priests and destruction of churches. In 1970, during a business trip in Moscow I was told that the city of seven million had at that time 5 (five) remaining active churches
(probably to demonstrate the religious freedom in the USSR).

The communist system totally collapsed in 1990. In 70 years the concepts of Bolshevik Revolution badly damaged the country and destroyed the lives and souls of many generations. Now, the faith in God rules again all over Russia and the country emerges rapidly towards a new era.


“In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance are symbols of ideals that made America the greatest nation on Earth and they should stay forever where they are now.

David Fowler
10-29-2003, 11:07 AM
Bravo Dragos!!!!

I couldn't have said it better. We have become so complacent in this country. We don't speak out on matters like this because we are afraid of being labelled as a bleeding heart or ultra this or that. The Russian analogy is right on the money. And people wonder why the Islamic people seem so unnatural to most of us. Well if they had lived in the first century of this country they would have seen the exact same kind of furor over Christianity as they see in Islam today. Those people firmly believe in the concepts and ideals set forth by their religion. Is it right? I certainly don't know. It doesn't match up with what I have been taught and learned to accept on faith. Who knows? Maybe God created all these different races and allowed these different faiths to grow to see how we would handle them. As far as my study and knowledge goes, God never promised to give us all the answers. He expects us to decide for ourselves. A wise man once said, "God answers ALL prayers. Sometimes He says yes, sometimes no and sometimes He says wait and see. All we can do as believers in God (I won't even narrow it down to just Christians) is live in a way that we believe will prove pleasing in his sight. I do believe He will let us know where we were right and wrong in the end. We might all be surprised.

Tana Fritts
10-29-2003, 11:15 AM
Very well put David. I agree with you that God answers our prayers in his own way. I think everyone believes in God no matter what they call him. I just wish more people would open there eyes and realize that. It doesn't matter what his name is "a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet".

Dragos Sfinteanu
10-29-2003, 05:19 PM
Originally posted by Tana Fritts

"It doesn't matter what his name is, ' a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet' "


This is right, Tana. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, all believe in God, no matter how every group names Him. The most important fact is that God expresses in every case goodness, understanding and tolerance. The essence of human nature created by God is a good one.

The furor over Christianity mentioned by Dave in this respect makes a good point. It took place a long time ago, in a period of time when the religious extremism flared all over Europe. Let’s remember the victims of the Spanish inquisition, Galileo Galilee and Giordano Bruno, great philosophers and scientists, burned alive in Italy, the bloody religious wars in France, etc.



Originally posted by David Fowler

"Maybe God created all these different races and allowed these different faith to grow to see how we would handle them"


Yes Dave, maybe God wanted us to know that finally we can (and must) live in peace together, under the same religion, and side by side with other religions.

Islam, to the best of my knowledge, does not promote the violence. I read in the media several statements made by prominent religious Islamic leaders about the non-violence concepts of Koran (including the rejection of the theory of “martyr –suicide bombing people”). In this respect, a documented comment made by a knowledgeable person in Islam would be welcomed.

The actual violence in the Middle East and other parts of the world, including the Islamic Jihad, represents another segment of extremism. It is another test for the mankind. We all hope that it will be successfully passed.

David Fowler
11-03-2003, 09:34 AM
Exactly Dragos

You are right on Dragos. Islam doesn't teach hatred and intolerance. The extremists have created the idea of the jihad and killing the infidel. That is the only way they can justify their actions. As you said all religions of any merit teach love and understanding and cooperation. There have always been and probably will always be those who interpret their religious texts in a way that upholds their beliefs. Your example of the Spanish inquistion is perfect proof of that. The powers that be at that time thought their interpretation of the Bible was the only one and that it directed them to do the terrible things they did. It's very much like the Southern Baptists here in SC. They believe that the only Bible that is correct and viable is the old King James version. They refuse to admit (most of the time) that the scribes who translated the KJV from German admitted that they may have made mistakes in definition. I believe the quote is "There may be errors in definition and translation but no errors of omission.

Dragos Sfinteanu
11-03-2003, 06:53 PM
Southern Baptists in CS

They should follow the wonderful example of the Pope, who started the reconciliation between Romano-Catholic - and Orthodox Churches, after a 1000-yr. old dispute. This was a much moore complex issue than a misunderstanding concerning a Bible translation.

David Fowler
11-04-2003, 07:27 PM
Boy did you say a mouth full, Dragos. The Southern Baptists around here are so certain that their way is the only way it's almost pathetic. And what gets me is that they insist on teaching what they call "The Baptist Beliefs". This is a set of rules stating what Baptists should believe. I feel like God gave us the Bible and it should be the only rules you need to be a Christian. Why should you have to have another set of rules to be part of a particular church? This goes (in my mind) directly to what the Old Testiment calls dividing the word. I believe that denominationalism is a direct division of the word. Each denomination has it's own ideas of what is right for that church. Is not the word of God enough?

Dragos Sfinteanu
11-22-2003, 01:13 PM
Originally posted by David Fowler

Why should you have to have another set of rules to be part of a particular church?


Hi Dave,

Sorry for the late answer. I was out of town for more than two weeks.

I think that your sensitive question could be answered by the natural (and logical) diversity created by God. He released on Earth the good and the bad, beauty and ugliness, and a lot of other contrasts. Many contrasts occur in religious customs and rules. As a first example coming to my mind is the sign of cross made with two fingers by Catholics while the Orthodox people use three fingers. Not to talk about countless differences between Christian and Muslim customs.

If the Baptists you are talking about do respect the Ten Commandments, if their "Baptist Beliefs" do not come in conflict with the rules of God, why not let them practice their habits and treat them with respect, that has to be mutual ?

Maurice Hopkins
11-24-2003, 10:12 PM
I kind of think it's a good idea to put tougher penalties to some of the lesser crimies. I don't really feel sorry for the women in the article. Just because she misses someone doesn't mean she has the right to scare other people. My husband has been to Saudi and Jordan, and I've missed him terribly while he was gone but, that doesn't mean I'm going to send threatening letters to the government making false statments like, "I'm going to blow up the pentagon if you don't bring my husband home". Not only does it scare everyone who works there it is also a threat to our security. I think I should be punished for something as juvenile as that. Maybe if people know that they will be punished more harshly for certain things then they will think twice before doing it.


Not to cause any problems, but if we give away all our rights to the government and the states, what will we be left with?

I do not agree that it is okay to make terroristic threats, which is already a crime by law, but we have to have some type of balance in our judicial system. That is the purpose of the Constitution, if we just stand by and say a person should be punished for whatever they do puts us in a bad spot.

I would really hate to be arrested and charged for a crime if I did not commit it, just because someone said I did. If that ever happened what would be the need for Lawyers, Judges, Courts and even Private Investigators.

We would all be out of a job, because the States and Government will just simply enact laws that state if you are accused of a crime no matter how simple it may be, you are guilty and will be punished. There will not any due process, no lawyers needed to defend you, no judges needed to hear you case and make a fair decision, nor would it be a need for private investigators to investigate, and find out the facts.

Dragos Sfinteanu
11-25-2003, 03:47 PM
Originally posted by Maurice Hopkins
Not to cause any problems, but if we give away all our rights to government and the states, what will we be left with?
.....
I would really hate to be arrested and charged for a crime if I did not commit it,just because someone said I did...


Maurice, this would not be the ultimate evil.

What about to be arrested, charged (or not!) and... executed for a crime you did not commit, just because someone said you did it, or because someone thought you could do it ?

Unfortunately this happened, under Stalin and Saddam Hussein dictatures, as well as (at a lower level) in some other countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

For people who lived such tragedies and are living in America as US citizens, giving away some of their rights will not be very disturbing. Giving away all their rights would be impossible because for most of them these rights brought them here. Fortunately, this case in no circumstances could happen in America.

The issue is still a very sensitive one. In my opinion it excludes a general, rigid rule, calling for a careful analysis of each case in the matter.

Karen K Anderson
11-25-2003, 06:30 PM
May I suggest you all read Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country.

Maurice Hopkins
11-25-2003, 09:41 PM
I would like for you to really look at your state laws and compare them to the constitution, then I would like for you to look at all the new federal statues and then come back and tell me that this could not happen?


It is a reality that we as people of this United States of America allow our government and states to enact laws and not challenge their decisions. We have certain rights to stand up for what we believe and to challenge anything that we feel is wrong, and if we don't make a stand; we will be in the same position. Mayne not in our days, maybe not in our children days, but lets say it comes about in our grandchildren days and time. How would you really feel knowing that you could have made some changes today that will make tomorrow a better time, and you did not?
Please read up on what is going on and analyze, very deeply then give me your opinion?

Dragos Sfinteanu
11-26-2003, 04:52 PM
In my last posting I asked you a question, supported by some comments. You did not answer, neither question, nor comments.

I could do the same, but I will not. On the contrary, I will follow your kind advise, by analyzing very deeply “what is going on” (your expression).

- In the matter of state laws and Constitution,if we continue a fair debate, I will always ask for your opinion. Being a BS (future MS) in Criminal Justice, you are the most qualified person in this respect.

- I can not follow your polite invitation regarding the “federal statues”….because I did not see any of them. I use to visit from time to time the old statues in San Francisco: Simon Bolivar, De Anza, El Cid, Jeanne d'Arc. None of them are “Federal”, not even American. We, here in the “Wild West”, are busy with the nanotechnology and other technologies, that made California the seventh economic power on Earth. I am telling you all this without any irony, to point out the fact that living and working in different areas (difference meaning history, culture, economics, habits, etc.), determines a difference in thinking (remember my words “rigid rule”).
The conclusion for your first paragraph: please, detail the “new federal statues” (without personal interference) and then come back to me , in order to analyze the facts and prepare an answer. Until that I still believe that the basic traditions of this country, the traditions that made it the first one on Earth, will not collapse.

- With regard to the second paragraph, I agree with you, excepting the last phrase (the question). This question appears as very impressive but I will ask you one that is fundamental:
How would we really feel if our children (or grandchildren) would not be able to make any judgment about us, being denied the right to live ?. It happened on September 11. Could it happen again? You, as an Executive – Advisory Board of the Homeland Security, are entitled to give a qualified answer. If the answer is “Yes”, I think we have to accept some limitations of some certain rights (I would reluctantly do this!) . If the answer is “No”, why do you rise sometimes the nation alert level to “elevate”? Also, in this case what would be the reason of the Homeland Security to exist?

- Another aspect that has to be considered is the change of our world. Alabama/The Ten Commandments, stem cell research, gay marriage (Canada, Vermont, Massachusetts, and now California), globalization, the disarray of Anglican Church, …the terrorism) unveil more and more issues that are less and less controlled by existing laws and rules. The changes represent a tough problem. This problem suggests two solutions: forcing the issue to “enter” the law provision or adjusting the law for the new issue.

- When entering this topic (your posting of 11-24-03) you expressed mixed feelings about the main issue but I noticed your tendency towards one of its limits. Consequently, my following comment (11-25-03; 01-47PM) “pushed” the issue to the opposite limit, in order to show that a reasonable solution could be found in the intermediate zone, between the extreme limits: giving away all our rights and giving nothing away. In this respect I outlined that the issue was a “very sensitive one”. This was also the reason I opened the topic.

- I have left a last question for you. It is a franc, man to man, yes or not, question: Would your answer about our rights be the same if today would be September 12, 2001 ?

I am taking the permission to end with your last phrase: “Please read up on what is going on and analyze, very deeply then give me your opinion” (without asking mark).

Maurice Hopkins
11-26-2003, 10:31 PM
What about to be arrested, charged (or not!) and... executed for a crime you did not commit, just because someone said you did it, or because someone thought you could do it ?


I have left a last question for you. It is a franc, man to man, yes or not, question: Would your answer about our rights be the same if today would be September 12, 2001 ?

To answer your first question, it is not fair, correct, righteous, nor is it ethical, so I would not like it.

As for your second question, I have felt this way before 9/11, I felt this way the day after, and still feel the same way now.
9/11 had nothing to do with with fact that we have been giving up our rights slowly but surely. What 9/11 did was show us that we as a country, really have to take a good look at our national security and not just underestimate the ability of our enemies, because they would use any means at their disposal to harm us.

For 9/11 to be made a issue in this conversation, there are certain things I can and cannot speak on, but I will say that there are still some unresolved issues with this matter and everything is not always what it seems.

Dragos Sfinteanu
11-26-2003, 10:36 PM
I understand your viewpoints.

One of the most important factors in a high-level debate is a reciprocal understanding. We have achieved that.

Maurice Hopkins
11-26-2003, 10:38 PM
I would like to also apologize to you for not directly answering your question he first time. When you study law, which I have done, you tend to respond to question as they teach you. They teach you not to really directly answer questions, and most of the time it rubs off in my conversation.:eek:

Dragos Sfinteanu
11-26-2003, 10:46 PM
It is OK, Maurice.

I am almost convinced that we are on the same side of the barricade.;)

Maurice Hopkins
11-27-2003, 01:18 AM
Well that is good to know, just to let you know it was nice conversing with you.

Dragos Sfinteanu
11-27-2003, 10:55 AM
The pleasure was mine.

I hope we meet again. ....... Did you visit "Stolen Art"?

Maurice Hopkins
11-27-2003, 06:43 PM
Yes it has been great, and I am sure we will meet again.

As for Stolen Art, I have not visited it yet.

Technical Support
11-28-2003, 12:54 PM
Just a reminder - While we encourage lively discussion, we need to stay on topic - and post comments that are respectful toward others who have "personal opinions".

If in doubt, please read the following guidelines:

http://www.ipiu.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2914

-----

Very important too, , , when anyone posts a QUOTE - make sure you use the message feature in your message box titled "QUOTE".

I edited the original comment posted in this topic with the open and close quote feature. Otherwise, some members may think you wrote the opinion (or news).

And I also inserted several paragraph breaks for easier reading.

Cheers,

Karen Kiely
11-29-2003, 01:42 PM
This is a very interesting article and so are the responses.
I find I am torn between many of your replies. Keep them coming.

Karen

David Fowler
12-04-2003, 11:20 AM
These postings are so interesting. First I must appologize to Dragos for not responding to your post on the Baptist Beliefs. I received my training materials that week and spent the next two weeks studying and preparing to take my test, which I mailed this morning. (I hope I got them all right). Second, the discussion between Maurice and Dragos was extremely interesting and thought provoking. I think you both are on the "same side of the baracade". As US citizens I hope we all are. The 9/11 disaster opened a lot of our eyes. We do have the right and obligation as citizens of the greatest nation on Earth to question our elected officials when they pass laws that infringe on our basic freedoms. While parts of the Patriot Act are somewhat disturbing in that they do limit our freedom, they are, I believe, necessary to protect us from this sort of thing happening again. No law or ordinance will ever completely protect us from this sort of terrible crime. We as citizens must be willing to do our part. We should contact our elected officials with our thoughts, ideas and suggestions not just our problems. With the internet, we have access to them that no other group of citizens has ever been afforded. We should use them. I don't want to lose my rights and freedoms. I don't think any of us do.

Dragos Sfinteanu
12-04-2003, 08:18 PM
Nice to "see" you again.

I wish you a big success taking the test.

With regard to Patriot Act...



Originally posted by David Fowler
... While parts of the Patriot Act are somewhat disturbing in that they do limit our freedom, they are, I believe, necessary to protect us from this sort of thing happening again....
....I don't want to lose my rights and freedoms. I don't think any of us do.


We do not want our rights to be infringed.
We do not want another 9/11.

As I mentioned earlier, the issue is a sensitive one.