Friday, July 14, 2017

Patriot Act Titles 3 and 4

To understand Title Three of the Patriot Act, it is essential to remember that the United States is basically a Christian nation, and therefore Muslim customs, especially those which were believed to have aided the individuals who carried out the events of September 11th, 2001, as defined by the 9-11 Commission Report, were not well understood. The attacks exploited American unfamiliarity with several Muslim concepts. And there was an ingress of these new concepts into the lexicon of ordinary Americans, some of which, like Ramadan, remained, and some of which, like Hewala, well....

"Hewala, or Hawala, (Arabic: meaning transfer, or sometimes trust) is also known as Hundi,......is a popular and informal value transfer system based on the performance and honor of a huge network of money brokers primarily located in (the Muslim world)......" -Wikipedia 
The immediate conclusions about the perpetrators of 9-11 were astonishing. News services had received a huge package of data with names of the alleged perpetrators, bios, pics, and witnesses to the nature of the activities of a vast and complicated plot which concluded in the September 11th attacks against the Twin Tower complex in New York City.

It was among these streams of information that the concept of hundi was first explained, as the wire transfers of the amount of money necessary to accomplish these attacks, money for rent, flight lessons, and similar purposes, should have raised the red flags from more than one federal agency. It is for this reason that this issue is addressed with urgency, appearing as the third title of the Patriot Act, aka "the money laundering title".

Although it also provides for an expansion of federal jurisdiction which already was in effect, such as the reporting of deposits greater than $999 into any American accounts, this title also precludes legitimate businesses which commonly use transfers, and thus deposits of greater than $999, as oversight issues excluded due to business accounts, and tax declarations which identify these transfers and clearly distinguish them from hundi.

Hundi works by private citizens, since the regulation of hundi is not a priority in Muslim nations. Therefore, the practice struck forensic accountants as pretty much, "an ingeniously untraceable, and therefore immediately concerning custom."

In a wire transfer, money transferred within the United States is reported by a numerical system of tracking, and if the amount is over $999, the federal guidelines call for that transfer to be declared by the institution responsible, bearing several exceptions and exemptions. But the money cannot appear from out of nowhere, it has to have resided in an account and therefore is subject to a chain of custody.

In hundi, transfers are made by a debt made at the receiving end, and incurred upon the broker. This broker, presumably one in a chain of several, operates by a word of mouth as to the fact that the amount has been transferred to someone on his behalf, and therefore upon that promissory nature, alone, is the transfer completed.

Hundi was something 99.9% of Americans had never heard of, and this includes the lawmakers of the nation. As the efforts to simplify and explain possible countermeasures expanded, the Patriot Act, signed a little more than one month following the September 11th Attacks, was the most comprehensive attempt to safeguard against hundi, and the potential abuse of more contemporary forms of money transfer which were possible, until the Patriot Act took effect.

Title Three, now, in nine sections, redefines and reasserts the relationships between the usage of financial institutions by foreign peoples, and their accounts, and eliminates the ability of a foreign bank which has no branch in the US to be involved in commerce, or trade of any sort in the US, with an emphasis on money transfer.

With Title Three, there is very little room for the funding of terrorism within the United States to be carried out at all. And, since hundi did explain at least a portion of how these acts could be funded, it eliminated the part of the chain where foreign currencies would need to be converted into dollars, and that meant that even if a terrorist had a domestic account, the institution would employ differing technologies that would raise red flags if it were an account being used to legitimize foreign deposits, or as a source of capital whose deposits were suspicious.

There is only a small potential for this title to be used against ordinary Americans. But Title Four has one of the most complex, contradictory, and potentially abusable results as a whole, to stem from the Patriot Act: the federal government's new right to take someone into custody, and remove that person's Constitutional rights. Title Four of the Patriot Act is divided into ten sections, and is also known as "The Border Protection Title".

The Border Protection Expansion

The duties of protecting the sovereign borders of the United States once fell to the Border Protection Agency. But, between the initial Patriot Act expansions of what, exactly, this meant, and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, several powers were given to this agency ostensibly combining several other agencies, and the emerging United States Border Protection and Customs Enforcement was created. It is currently the largest US Law Enforcement Agency in the country. 

The path towards this, however, actually began under Title Four of the Patriot Act. It is set forth in four sections which were once many more than that, but ensuing coalescing acts of congress leave the four that still officially remain. Though they are straightforward, such as the reasserting of the Canadian border with such security as to prevent entry into the US from Canada by excluded criminals and suspected terrorists, their language may be simple, but their ramifications were anything but simple. 

The objectives only appear to be straightforward, but actually require new levels of cooperation at the federal level. Communications between the State Department, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, for example, simply did not exist prior to Title Four, or were not being actively engaged. Thus these lacks of communication were perceived as vulnerabilities for exploitation, they were jurisdictionally non-related prior to the Patriot Act's authors re imagining of them.
Shoe bomber, Richard Reid

But the most controversial edit to American life brought about by the Patriot Act in general, higher degrees of surveillance, as in Title Two, and the detention of suspected terrorists without access to due process, as Title Four would come to imply, were not well-received by civil rights and humanitarian groups, alike. But the act did pass, and the nature of the American to his government became one of ever-increasing suspicion. 
Zacharias Zirkawi, French citizen who cannot speak French....
But there is sound reasoning for the provisions, and as power goes, any of it is abusable. The rationale goes something like this: 

During the initial invasion of Afghanistan, US CIA paramilitary groups captured what became known as, "The American Taliban". But he was known to his family, and to most of the world from which he came by the less-provocative name, John Walker Lindh. Lindh's conversion to Islam, and many trips to Afghanistan began at age sixteen. He would become a soldier who fought with Taliban forces against the Northern Alliance, and had met Usama Bin Ladin. His 2002 capture was a source of national outrage.
American Taliban 

Americans were shocked, appalled, and left feeling as though this man, whom spoke the language of the Taliban, Pharisee, fluently, deserved no rights whatsoever. And since Lindh had been caught engaged in acts of war which drew from collaboration with the enemy, he was subject to having his case adjudicated by military tribunal. 


And the press ogled him as though he were some sort of cross between Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold. And though he is American, the public, still raging from the desire for revenge, did not feel any sympathy as he was seized and returned to the US a despised and gaunt figure, though technically, he had no role in the September 11th attacks. 

The disposition legally for Mr Lindh only grew more complicated, as it also did for federal prosecutors. Each time that Lindh's legal team would assert his rights as an ordinary US citizen, an evolving set of exchanges of paperwork finally nailed shut the doors to his fate.

The citable case now serves as the method in which the federal government can detain a US citizen, acting in concert with a force hostile to the US, and the vehicle by which such a detainee shall no longer be afforded his or her civil rights.

In the case of Zachary Zirkawi, the so-called "12th" 9-11 terrorist", the government had already won the privilege to deny these rights to foreigners and to those whose presences on US soil were not legal.

But with Lindh's case, the issue of the rights of Americans engaging in collaboration with hostile entities in order to harm the US, as well as the government's attitude on the subject, broke new ground, and raised new alarms in terms of civil rights.

Lindh drew a twenty year sentence in the federal prison at Terra Haute. This infamous prison is where the government sends its prisoners that they want to die. Had Lindh's case been adjudicated today, it is almost certain that the harsh criticism, and the widespread contempt, would be far more subdued.

Nevertheless, his case is is only the first.

When he activated an incendiary device hidden in one of his shoes as he sat aboard a plane inbound from Europe, the so-called, "shoe-bomber", Richard Reid, of the UK, became the first person to have his entire criminal case, from his arrest, to his sentencing, adjudicated with this newly emerging governmental intolerance for persons attempting to enter the US while acting under foreign orders, or attempting to commit acts of terror, or a combination of the two, with all of the bugs of legal hassle all ironed-out.

Federal prosecutors simply memorized the lines of the government's case for Title Four questions of adjudicating a case under the title's unprecedented panorama of new and impenetrable legal gymnastics, and this caused the belabored Lindh case, with its televised motions, no matter how insignificant, to become streamlined into a new, and itself alarming, brevity.

Basically, Mr Reid's loss-of-Constitutional protections occurred in three acts: his arrest, his arraignment, and his sentence.

Though he is a British citizen, prior to the Patriot Act he would still have enjoyed Constitutional protections, protections which Mr Reid was denied. He was subjected to interrogations, for instance, without any attempt to provide him with counsel. He claimed that he was never advised of his Miranda rights, and though begrudgingly, law enforcement didn't ever actually dispute Mr Reid about these allegations.

There was outrage by his legal team, and futile efforts to warn the public of the potentially harmful crisis of American identity which was being exercised against their client. But, again, Mr Reid's timing could not have been worse, and worked as more of a witness against him than the thing he actually tried to do.

He was quickly arrested, tried, and convicted to life, plus 110 years in the federal prison system, where there is zero chance that he will ever see his home, again.

And for this reason, the sections of the Title Four provisions are almost as controversial as Title Two's increasing of surveillance.

The fact is, until the press gets wind of a US citizen arrested and detained by these precedent-setting protocols, then Title Four will come in at second place, as the most abused Title of the Patriot Act. Title Two did cause controversy, as the April 7 Vault Seven leaks by WikiLeaks seem to draw a clear picture of the abuse of Title Two. But, without family members to convey to the media a tale of arrest, detention, and denial-of-rights, the precedents of the Lindh case stand almost no chance at repeal.

Conclusions 

Though the harm has been done, and the punishment meted-out, the longer and stronger federal law enforcement arm still keeps its entitlements, in spite of the new trend of crying, "terrorism" whenever a Muslim does something destructive, as in the 2016 Pulse Shootings in Miami.

In that case, an American-born Muslim, who believed he was wrong for being gay, decided to initiate a killing spree. The fact is, this person stated that Isis trained him, and that bombs were set to go off if law enforcement attempted to intervene. This caused an unclear disposition by law enforcement whom responded to the initial 9-11 calls for help.

He killed many more victims while the authorities debated what they should do. It is clearly a terrible thing. But it wasn't quite terrorism by Al Quaida. Nonetheless, had he been arrested, the suspensions of his civil rights would almost seem certain.

Also, Title Four tends to ignore, or distrust that systems were in place for just these kinds of abuses by potential terrorists, and that none of the men attacking the towers were actually here illegally.

Those whom have faced the most harm are Americans whom, for whatever reason, might be targeted and then entrapped by federal law enforcement into situations where Title Four has granted the nation immunity from the observance of a person's Constitutional rights. And this has already happened, according to some suspected terrorists, and their legal teams.

But, as the nation puts the horrors of the September 11th attacks behind it, the bloodfeud-nature of the relationship between defendant and the government prosecuting that defendant has cooled somewhat. Or, it appears to have cooled at least on the surface. This seems to indicate that, perhaps, Title Four provisions are being passed-over in favor of the legal approaches which existed prior to them, that, maybe the government has had its fill of blood, and would reserve these provisions, as well as their potentials for abuse, for only those most dangerous individuals whom may escape justice otherwise.

But the abusive potential is still there.

Also, it is clear that if abuses happen, then they will happen after the person is detained, meaning that the agency(ies) or the agents, themselves will determine the initial steps towards regarding any given subject having any rights, or not. And that process is on-going.

1 comment:

  1. It should be said that if, as in the Pulse case, the charges are deferred to the District Court level, as these would be had he survived to see charges filed, the Patriot Act is, at that point, only available as requesting the federal govt to take over the case. Without that invitation, hate crime charges, which are federal...technically, have a rich precedent in being prosecuted by each state, as federal jurisdiction has deferred these types of charges in Florida quite often. But, if the fed wanted to, then Title 4's ability to make a citizen vanish from their accountability, as well as his rights, all they need to do is formally request to do so.

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