However, today it is better known as the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was responsible for drastic changes in over 15 important government and constitutional statues. All which lead to the increased ability of the government and law enforcement to secretly monitor, conduct surveillance, and investigate anyone at anytime. Previous to September 11, 2001 there were several attempts by the Republican Party to allow for the electronic surveillance of citizens within the United States however these provisions were highly criticized as being anti-constitutional and therefore anti-American.
It was this single act of terrorism which promoted Congress to tear apart the rights granted to every citizen in the United States Constitution and allow the rights of privacy to be completely subordinated. When asked why, congressional officials always cite the 9/11 terrorists attacks. Even the former White House John Podesta challenged their decisions stating that the devastating events of 9/11 emotionally pressured the members of Congress to agree to allow new legal implements to help fight the terrorists.
He continues But we should not forget what gave rise to the original opposition- many aspects of the bill increase the opportunity for law enforcement and the intelligence community to return to an era where they monitored and sometimes harassed individuals who were merely exercising their First Amendment rights. After the establishment of the specific content of the Patriot Act, congress was given only a single week to pass the act. John Ashcroft not only had a time limit but also required there would be absolutely no changes to the act.
Several congressman headed by the the Vermonts Patrick Leahy did convince the Department of Justice to make some changes and gradually members of Congress worked together and improvements were made. The process was not fast enough for John Ashcroft and he pressured Congress and the public by repeatedly warning that additional terrorists attacks were upon the United States and only Congress had the power to stop them by passing the Patriot Act. At that point all the revisions to the act were taken away and was passed. The Act was passed 35766 in the House of Representatives.
President Bush signed the Patriot Act into law on 26 October, 2001. What is most baffling about the Patriot Act is very few people can actually explain what the Patriot Act is and what is says. John Ashcroft on several occasions tried to explain exactly what the details of the Patriot Act is: Prosecutors will seek judicial authority to intercept communications related to an expanded list of terrorism-related crimes such as: the development, possession, or use of chemical or biological weapons; financial transaction with a terrorist government; or providing material support to terrorists or terrorist organizations.
Investigators will use roving wiretaps to intercept communications and thereby thwart the ability of terrorists to evade surveillance by switching phones or communication devices. Investigators will now aggressively pursue terrorists on the internet. The legislation permits investigators to obtain senders and receivers e-mail addresses just as it is done with telephone surveillance. Terrorists employ sophisticated technologies to evade detection and the legislation updates the law to the technology. Investigators will use search warrants to obtained unopened voice mail and e-mail.
However, the most important parts of the Patriot Act were left out of his description. Under the stipulations of the act, obtaining warrants are much easier. It also approves unspecified search warrants to be used without notification. These particular components are in direct contrast to those given to all citizens in the Fourth Amendment which gives protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The the real power the Patriot Act is in the subpoena. This allows the authorities to search and find credit card and bank account information of any suspected terrorists on the world wide web.
This will allow investigators to identify the terrorist who hides behind a fictitious internet name. The question remains how does the government determine who is a potential terrorist or not- could it be you or me? The truth is there is no defined methodology. Therefore, this allows the FBI to order anyone to turn over anything for any reason. These pieces of information can include library records, medical records, business records, emails, and student information. This is legal as long as the FBI believes the information will help in an authorized investigation.
This is extremely vague and all inclusive. This is a clear violation of privacy rights outlined in the Constitution. The Patriot Act continues that only a single court order is needed to do a communication search that is world wide. Under normal circumstances the court order is only effective in the judicial district it was initiated in. It continues Law enforcement and intelligence committees will share information on terrorist activities and thus better coordinate their efforts to prevent terrorism.
It is obvious that the Patriot Act is actually a secret tool which can be used against terrorism but can also be used anytime against anyone the government feels necessary. Mark Corallo of the Department of Justice, was quoted as saying The Patriot Act was not meant to be just for terrorism. An article in Newsweek has reported that the government had used the provisions set up in the Patriot Act, to investigate 1000 people who have had absolutely no terrorisms connection. Many critics draw a comparisons to Orwells 1984 in which the general public was constantly monitored.
Tampering with the founding document of the United States is a bad idea and no matter how many times the President of the United States states that The Patriot Act defends our liberty, it simply is not true. Benjamin Franklin, a great American thinker, said decades ago Those who are willing to give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. By passing and using the Patriot Act we are giving up our liberty for safety and in this case pseudo it is safety. The Patriot Act allows the government to treat every citizens as a potential terrorist.
Based on that idea the government has the legal ability to question, search, and detain anyone. In recent months the Patriot Act has been renewed temporarily. However, it is clear that both members of Congress and the general population have lost faith and confidence in George Bush in his actions and words. There are a number of outspoken critics of the Patriot Act including the American Civil Liberties Union who believed that the Act gives the attorney general and federal law enforcement unnecessary and permanent new powers to violate civil liberties and these infringements go way beyond those necessary for fighting terrorism.
Many congressional officials who voted for the act in 2001 believe they made a mistake. John Kerry has been extremely open of his opinion that the Patriot Act was misrepresented and misused by the government. To be passed again, the Patriot Act must have substantial changes which will restore those rights granted to all American citizens. In fact there are almost no supporters of the Patriot Act as is, excluding those directly involved the Bush Administration.
The governmentally run site which lists the reasons why the Patriot Act is beneficial lists the reasons why the act improves counter-terrorism efforts. They list four reasons including the following: the ability to readily investigate organized crime and the trafficking of drugs, allows information to be shared between governmental intelligence agencies, addresses new technology which is used in potential terrorist organizations, and increased the criminal punishment for terrorist activities.
They also had the audacity to include on their web pages quotes of the Declaration of Independence as support for the the constitutionally debilitating provisions of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act not only contradicts the United States Constitution but makes a mockery of the the hard work our founding fathers did to secure liberties for all of America and its citizens. By enacting into law our governmental officials took way our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Our actions in the passing of the Patriot Act, the mistreatment of those who simply look like terrorists, and our self righteous behavior abroad in Iraq supports the idea that the United States is gradually becoming what killed all those people on September 11th, 2001 a terrorist nation. And how long will the world wait and placidly watch America reek the same devastation worldwide?