Skip to comments.New anti-terror (Patriot Act) law has prosecutors, defenders, regulators and administrators scrambli
Posted on 12/07/2001 8:26:34 AM PST by Native American Female Vet
New anti-terror (Patriot Act) law has prosecutors, defenders, regulators and administrators scrambling
By Martha Mendoza, Associated Press, 12/7/2001 01:47
Three hundred and forty-two pages. Three hundred and fifty subject areas. Forty federal agencies. Twenty-one legal amendments.
Sweeping anti-terrorism legislation that was proposed, debated and signed into law in less than six weeks now has federal prosecutors, defenders, regulators and administrators around the country scrambling to decipher what Congress and the Bush administration intended and immediately put it into effect.
For example, one provision requires businesses to notify federal authorities if a customer pays them with more than $10,000 cash.
Another requires universities to provide law enforcement agents with names, addresses, grades and disciplinary records of students from a handful of countries.
A clause requires background investigations on truck drivers; but within days of enactment, the U.S. Department of Transportation told states to disregard it until regulators can come up with rules to implement the checks.
Just one of several anti-money laundering sections prompted an 18-page explanatory memo from the U.S. Treasury Department; it promised more guidance in the weeks to come but said enforcement should begin immediately.
And on and on:
Aliens certified as threats to national security can be detained for unspecified periods but how is one ''certified?'' Internet service providers have to figure out how they should hand over to police ''non-content'' information, which the law allows to be released without a court order or subpoena.
University laboratory administrators must decide which students will now be kept from which research projects since the law restricts access of nonimmigrant aliens to biological agents and toxins. ''The bill is so huge and so complicated,'' said Sonia Arrison, director for the Center for Technology Studies at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco. ''No one knows how they're supposed to report something or where they're supposed to give information.''
''When I read about how long and complicated the bill is, I thought, `Oh my God, I have a lot of work ahead of me,´´´ said federal public defender Maria Stratton in Los Angeles.
''What is hard is that you've got a bunch of seasoned prosecutors in districts throughout the United States who are used to doing things one way and right now they're involved in an ongoing, intensive, massive investigation, the biggest in history, and all of a sudden they hand us a new set of rules,'' said Roscoe Howard, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Nonetheless, Howard and colleagues said they are pleased with the USA Patriot Act.
''The rules changed, certainly, and we're training to figure out how to use them, but they've changed in a way that makes it easier for us to accomplish what we're trying to do,'' said Steve Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa.
Prosecutors are receiving training by attorneys who have read the law and consulted with Justice Department officials who wrote it. But in the months to come, more in-depth training will come from the National Advocacy Center, a Justice Department school for prosecutors in Columbia, S.C.
The Federal Defender Training Group, a part of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington D.C., is doing its own analysis of the law which it will provide to public defenders. Michael Katz, a federal public defender in Denver, said the new law will have be interpreted by the courts.
''A bill like this will be reverberating for years to come,'' he said. ''Provisions will be litigated as to whether they're constitutional.''
University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law authority, said of the anti-terror legislation: ''It's longer than the average law, and more complicated'' partly because many of its provisions modify existing laws.
He added: ''It's an unusual bill because there were actually no hearings on the bill itself. There's very little legislative history.''
Bush proposed the law on Sept. 19 and signed it into law Oct. 26.
''That may not seem like a lot of time in the normal legislative process,'' said Viet Dinh, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice. ''But as a person who was involved intimately with that process, let me assure that even though it was concentrated, the process was very deliberate.''
So, can someone explain to me why the heroes in Congress couldn't read this damn thing before passing it?
one provision requires businesses to notify federal authorities if a customer pays them with more than $10,000 cash
I guess that they had better take that sentence "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" off of our currency. Gee, I feel sooooooooooooooooo much safer now!
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