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How About a Little Perspective: The USA PATRIOT Act and the Uses and Abuses of History
Texas Review of Law & Politics (Vol. 9, No. 1)

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by Jeffrey Breinholt
Published on April 1st, 2004

Following the senseless killing of innocent Americans in politically-inspired attacks with the threat of more to come, U.S. prosecutors and agents are directed to use their skills to prevent terrorism before it occurs. The resulting disruption efforts—a product of creative thinking by government personnel of varied backgrounds and talents—are multi-faceted and are driven by such time-tested investigative techniques as electronic surveillance and the use of undercover informants. The efforts include the prosecution of non-terrorists, including the legal representatives of radical individuals and groups, who themselves cross the line into illegal activity, as well as the conscious prosecutorial decision to aggressively charge terrorists with non-terrorism crimes. Persons and groups targeted by these law-enforcement actions and their supporters cry foul and complain that the government’s actions go too far, raising the specter of a police state infringing on the constitutional protections to freely express themselves and to associate with whomever they choose. They point to the police abuses of the past, arguing that American law-enforcement cannot be trusted to learn the lessons of history. Unless the body politic rises up in protest, they argue, Americans are doomed to repeat the mistakes of an earlier era.

Read the full chapter here: Download file How About a Little Perspective (Jeffrey Breinholt)

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