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Patriot Act Usa

Essay by   •  February 1, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,316 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,427 Views

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After the terrorist attacks on September 11.2001, the United States underwent many changes as a country. Over $10.6 billion from the Emergency Budget was directed towards homeland security (Office of the Press Secretary, 2002) and the office implemented several new policies. One of the most controversial strategies to combat terrorism was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. This was called the USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act). While the law was passed through Congress without much disagreement between the two core political parties, civil liberties organizations have called for reform of the Patriot Act. Although the Patriot Act has tried to focus more on broadening the United States' vision of terrorism and protecting the people, the Bill of Rights is being threatened, including the first, fourth, and fifth amendments. Despite that many of the provisions of the Patriot Act expired at the end of 2005, the controversy over the constitutionality of many of the sections is in ongoing debate.

The main goal of the Patriot Act is to make communication easier between, local, states and federal law enforcement since communication blunders have been cited as one of the main mistakes that led to the terrorists' plans of September 11th being able to be carried out. (Office of the Press Secretary, 2002). The initial amendment the Patriot Act interfered with was the right to freedom of speech, assembly, and the press. The Patriot Act began to encroach on this freedom by allowing the use of roving wire taps. This allows law enforcement to be able to keep up with new technologically sophisticated terrorists. The problem then lies in a privacy issue with unaffiliated innocent civilians who may come into casual contact with the suspect. Another such provision of the Patriot Act that has since expired is Section 217, which allowed the government to monitor electronic activity. This monitoring of electronic activity coupled with Section 215 have become the most hotly debated aspects of the Patriot Act. Both of these stipulations infringe on citizen's freedom of speech as well as personal activities, all behaviors which should be protected under the first amendment.

The fourth amendment was also impacted by the passage of the Patriot Act; American's right to protection from unwarranted searches and seizures. The allowance of delayed notice of search warrants permits law enforcement officials to search a home or business and notify the target at a later date. Although investigators are still required to explain why the notification of a search should be delayed, this provision of the Patriot Act explicitly violates the fourth amendment, no matter how soon after notice of a search is given. For centuries the "knock and announce" rule has been general protocol in searches and seizures and with the passage of the Patriot Act, an imperative part of the Bill of Rights and civil liberties is lost.

This change in the requirements of law enforcement officials seriously offsets the checks and balances of power the different branches of the government exert on each other. The fact that police officers are usually required to operate in the open gives those being investigated time to evaluate the warrant as well as make sure that the range of the warrant is not being surpassed. A federal district judge ruled that the two provisions of the USA Patriot Act violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, because they allow surveillance without probable cause in Mayfield v. U.S.; a decision that shows that six years after the Patriot Act passed privacy concerns still exist regarding its use and scope (Judge Ann Aiken, 2007).

Even thought the Patriot Act affects more than half of the civil liberties granted to American citizens in the Bill of Rights, the third major amendment it impacts is the Fifth; no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without

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