The Patriot Act Essay

After the flagitious terrorist onslaughts on the United States in September 2001. the Government has focused an overpowering sum of attending on battling terrorist act. On October 26. 2001 the Bush Administration passed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Supplying Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. infamously known as Patriot Act. Practically. Patriot Act significantly expands the power of the federal authorities to look into. detain. and behave those people who the authorities suspects are linked to terrorist activity and other offenses.

Although the US Congress while ordaining this measure thought of the ways to protect America from future terrorist onslaughts. it failed to equilibrate tolerably the Act with Americans’ civil and constitutional autonomies ( Strickland. 26 ) . Ironically. the measure created to protect against terrorist act extends beyond its limited end. endangering the civil autonomies of Americans more than necessary and making many chances for privateness and freedom misdemeanors.

History illustrates that. in times of hazard. hurriedly taken steps frequently weaken governmental limitations against coercive and intrusive powers and frequently infringe on civil autonomies without well heightening security. Throughout United States history. the state allowed civil autonomies to be sacrificed in face of what seemed to be legitimate exigencies of war: the Alien and Sedition Acts. the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. the blacklisting of supposed communist sympathisers during the McCarthy epoch. and the government’s surveillance of civil rights leaders in the sixtiess ( Pike. 20 ) .

These maltreatments should non be forgotten in this war against terrorist act. but instead used as a lesson that the hazard of governmental maltreatment is significant. As Louis D. Brandeis explained. “experience should learn us to be most on our guard to protect autonomy when the government’s intents are beneficent. . . The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious invasion by work forces of ardor. well-meaning but without understanding” ( Gastil and Sussman. 116 ) . This history of maltreatment indicates that civil autonomy misdemeanors will probably be a world if the governmental actions are non carefully constructed with precautions.

From the critical point of view. the US Patriot Act obviously lacks these precautions. Harmonizing to professor Chimerinsky. “some loss of freedom may be necessary to guarantee security ; but non every forfeit of autonomy is warranted. . . The cardinal inquiry must be what rights need to be sacrificed. under what fortunes. and for what gain” ( Congress Hearings. Lexis-Nexis. 2001 ) . From the really get downing. the Act does non specify what a “suspected terrorist” is. or how the authorities may travel about surmising person of terrorist act.

Potentially. this deficiency of transparence gives the authorities an chance to utilize the norms of the Act virtually on every American. The US Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorist act as “the improper usage of force and force against individuals or belongings to intimidate or hale a authorities. the civilian population. or any section thereof. in promotion of political or societal objectives” ( 28 C. F. R. Section 0. 85 ) . However. this definition is seldom adhered to in pattern.

Title 2. subdivision 201 of Patriot Act. entitled “Authority to Intercept Wire. Oral. and Electronic Communicationss Associating to Terrorism” amends Section 2516 ( 1 ) of rubric 18. US Code. It allows any condemnable misdemeanor associating to chemical arms or terrorist act to authorise listen ining on the culprit. Section 215 besides gives the United States authorities the right to derive “access to records and other points under the foreign intelligence surveillance act. ” This includes everything from dental records to fingerprints and condemnable history.

Possibly the most baleful portion of the Patriot Act. nevertheless. is Title V. entitled “Removing Obstacles to Investigating Terrorism. ” which features subdivisions which allows DNA designation of terrorists and other violent wrongdoers. forces local jurisprudence enforcement to release control and all informations over to federal jurisprudence enforcement. allows revelation of educational records. and allows revelation of information from NCES studies. Not merely these commissariats make the Act to be unfair and inappropriate. but they besides violate all the norms established by the US Constitution sing civil rights and autonomies.

Guaranting the security of the United States is the most cardinal governmental aims and intelligence surveillance plays a critical function in the protection of national security. However. protecting civil autonomies is of great importance. and that is why the issue of surveillance went through old ages of argument. The values of the Constitution of the United States have united the state for more than 200 old ages. The framers designed the Fundamental law to protect civil autonomies in times of war every bit good as in times of peace.

It necessary to retrieve that the Constitution was designed at the clip when America won the Revolutionary War ; the clip that was non comfy or easy. and enemies posed a existent menace. However. protecting civil autonomies remained a cardinal end. Similarly. the current menace of terrorist act can non now be used as justification to ignore civil autonomies provided by the Constitution. American ideals and values must be respected to keep the strength of the United States. Commitment to the rules of the Constitution in the face of terrorist atrociousnesss will function justness and show the strength of the United States to the universe.

Even before September 11th. the authorities acknowledged that terrorists hope to arouse responses that undermine the Constitution of the United States. For case. a study published before the Patriot Act argued that counterterrorism policies must be effectual. but must besides esteem the democratic traditions ( Bernstein. 29 ) . Meanwhile. the Patriot Act could hold profound deductions on the democracy of the United States. Privacy involves the relationship of the person to the province. the most cardinal facet of a authorities.

Since the beginning of the United States. “Americans have been committed to the thought that people have the right to command how much information about their ideas. feelings. picks and political beliefs is disclosed” ( France M. et Al. 83 ) . Privacy acts as the boundary that provides protection from the outside universe and maintains human self-respect. Privacy works to screen minorities and foreigners from persecution. something America prides itself in supplying. “By cut downing our committedness to privateness. we risk altering what it means to be Americans” ( France M. T Al. 84 ) . The analysis of the Act’s subdivisions depicts whole unconstitutional character of this controversial measure. For case. Section 218 blurs the indispensable differentiation between condemnable and intelligence surveillance. It requires merely that “a important purpose” of a hunt or wiretap be “to obtain foreign intelligence information” ( Hearings. Lexis-Nexis. 3162/218 ) . The add-on of the word “significant” eliminates the old FISA civil autonomy precaution that separated condemnable surveillance from intelligence surveillance.

Now the Patriot Act allows a hunt to be performed under the old surveillance guidelines even if the motive is to acquire condemnable grounds. non foreign intelligence information. In modern-day context. this alteration allows the FBI to carry on secret hunts or to in secret enter telephone conversations without likely cause when their primary intent is to obtain condemnable information. non to garner foreign intelligence ( ACLU. 2005 ) . As a consequence. Section 218 threatens the civil autonomies of Americans who pose no terrorist menace.

Furthermore. the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires the authorities to turn out to a judicial officer that it has likely cause of a offense before it conducts an invasive hunt to happen grounds of that offense ( US Constitution. AM IV ) . Before the passage of the Patriot Act. if the primary intent was a condemnable probe. the jurisprudence enforcement functionaries had to foremost turn out the higher criterion of likely cause. Investigating condemnable activity can non be the primary intent of surveillance.

However. the alteration made by Section 218 authorizes unconstitutional activity by encroaching on the Fourth Amendment protection that requires likely cause. Section 218 now provides jurisprudence enforcement functionaries with a tool to avoid likely cause when carry oning condemnable probe surveillance. Equally long as jurisprudence enforcement functionaries can happen some facet of the surveillance associating to intelligence assemblage. the surveillance is now really likely to be allowed even if the surveillance is chiefly conducted for condemnable probe intents.

Form the critical point of view. the word “significant” is non plenty of a precaution to protect the likely cause demand for condemnable probes. Prior to the Patriot Act. the legislative acts that governed the usage of pen enrollment and trap and hint devices were structured harmonizing to the apprehension that the telephone was the overriding method of communicating across a distance. To obtain a tribunal order. the jurisprudence enforcement officer demands to certify that the information to be obtained is “relevant to an on-going felon investigation” ( 18 U.

S. C. . 3123 ( a ) . 2001 ) . In order to hold entree to the contents of the telephone communicating. the officer had to turn out likely cause. that is. that a offense has occurred. is happening. or will happen ( 18 U. S. C. S. . 3122. 1993 ) . Therefore. old policy someway limited the entree jurisprudence enforcement functionaries have to obtain call content. Not merely has the Patriot Act simplified the process of obtaining tribunal orders. it besides extends the rights of jurisprudence enforcement officers to entree everything from hard-wire telephones to Internet communications.

Now. Section 216 gives jurisprudence enforcement agents entree to “dialing. turn toing. routing or signaling information transmitted by an instrument or installation from which a wire or electronic communicating is transmitted. ” once they have obtained pen registry and trap and hint orders. In add-on to the surpassing dialed telephone Numberss and the beginning of the incoming telephone calls. pen registries and trap and hint orders now give entree to much more information contained in an electronic communicating: the routing. turn toing and signaling information of an electronic communicating.

Taking into consideration that in the US modern history. the FBI has repeatedly abused its powers. the Patriot Act jeopardizes significantly Americans’ right to privateness every bit good as other civil autonomies. For illustration. during 1960s the FBI has investigated people because of cultural background or political point of view. both of which unjustly invade the sacred American right of single privateness. Reasons why the authorities. blindfolded congresswomans and other functionaries allow the possibility for ill-famed historical incidents and misdemeanors to go on once more remain ill-defined.

For now. the lone thing which is clear is that my personal privateness every bit good as privateness of my household and friends is under changeless menace. Quite perchance. my email correspondence with my foreign friends or relations is under careful ticker of FBI or other Homeland Security agents. My educational records along with other private information are easy accessible for ill-defined and non-transparent intents. And although my correspondence. my on-line journals. weblogs. electronic mail. etc do non stand for any menace for the United States. there is no justification and grounds for why they should be available for surveillance.

Finally. the US Patriot Act is seemingly neither effectual vehicle to protect citizens from terrorist act nor it conforms to the Constitution. Practically. it impedes your. my. their civil autonomies. The Government should hold foremost determined and analyzed the barriers suppressing effectual usage of bing policies that protect against terrorist act. and merely so use such aggressive control over our autonomy.