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Patriot Act Usa

Essay by   •  July 11, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,295 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,588 Views

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Here we are in a world of expanding freedoms. The Egyptians have just broken away from tyranny. Communism has almost been completely eradicated. The Middle Eastern countries are finding reasons why they would like to have a democracy and are trying to get it. The world is opening its eyes to what we have and our freedoms, but yet our freedoms are becoming more restricted. Major searches at the airports, security cameras at every main intersection, tapped phone calls between you and your mother. These are just a few of the restrictions that have taken place since 9/11. The Government says it is for our safety, but is it really?

Why is it we try to push democracy in almost every corner of the globe and it is our citizens that have to suffer? We make enemies by thinking we are the world's enforcer and we have the right idea, but there are problems here at home we can't take care of. For the longest time we had such a lax policy on immigration that now we don't know who we have let into our country to hurt us. So now it's the American citizen is the one who puts up with the consequences. The PATRIOT ACT is allowing terrorism to actually win the war on terror.

Forty-five days after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, also known as the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" Act, or more simply, the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was created with the noble intention of finding and prosecuting international terrorists operating on American soil; however, the unfortunate consequences of the Act have been drastic. Many of the Patriot Act's provisions are in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution--a document drafted by wise men like Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington in order to protect American rights and freedoms. The Patriot Act encroaches on sacred First Amendment rights, which protect free speech and expression, and Fourth Amendment rights, which protect citizens against "unwarranted search and seizure" (Justice, 2007). The Patriot Act authorizes unethical and unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens with a negligible improvement in national security. Free speech, free thinking, and a free American lifestyle cannot survive in the climate of distrust and constant fear created by the Patriot Act.

No longer can a newspaper editor publish an article that is critical of the government--even if it is legal--without fear that Big Brother may begin to survey his every thought and action. This may very well be the most frightening aspect of the Patriot Act: the fact that the Act allows the government to spy on any of its citizens, not just the bad ones. The Patriot Act does not demand sufficient proof that alleged "suspects" are engaged in criminal activity before authorizing government surveillance. Even upstanding American citizens can become targets of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance simply because of the manner in which they exercise their First Amendment rights (Beeson, 2003). Simply put, the Patriot Act fails to secure American liberties; in reality, the Act exposes Americans to potential abuses of power by creating an environment that encourages government corruption, secrecy, fraud and discrimination while using "national security" as a pretense for violating basic Constitutional rights like privacy and free speech. As the century drags on, it is becoming painfully obvious that the Patriot Act has actually moved the United States further away from an ideal democratic society since its passage in October of 2001.

Ever since 1776, when American colonists first abandoned their ties with Britain to create an independent nation, American citizens have always cherished basic rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures (United States, 2007). But after the unpredictable events of September 11, 2001, many citizens began to feel that they should give up some of their cherished rights in order to punish the perpetrators of the attacks and avoid future tragedies. An overwhelming sense of national unity overtook the country and Americans united to face the newly discovered threat of terrorism in a modern age. The President's approval rating increased from 54% to 86%--its highest level ever--in a matter of days (Ruggles, 2007). The American people rallied behind the Federal government and provided support. Tragically, Congress drafted the Patriot Act and decreed that it would be the solution to America's problems. According to Congress, the Patriot Act would protect America from its enemies who operated on American soil. Many Americans unquestionably accepted the Act to avoid the risk of being labeled "unpatriotic." However, thousands of far-seeing Americans publicly questioned the actions of the government, but their cries were not heard.

The only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act was Senator Feingold. Feingold is significant because he was the only Senator to fight against the Patriot Act before it was signed into law. The arguments that he made against the Act during September and October of 2001 continue to point out the negative effects the Act has had on American life and will continue to have moving forward in the twenty-first century. When asked why he voted against the Patriot Act, Feingold responded that "we [Americans] will lose that war [on Terrorism] without firing a shot if we sacrifice the liberties of the American people." Essentially, Feingold argued that the Patriot Act is counter-productive: if government "security" is meant to protect American liberties, then the American people should not have to sacrifice their liberties to purchase security. What purpose will "security" serve if there are no liberties left to defend? If the Federal government curtails American liberty, then security is rendered worthless. Colonial statesman Benjamin Franklin once said that "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." According to Franklin, real American patriots constantly question their government's intentions in order to ensure that their elected politicians are keeping the "core of American values and principles" at heart while in office (Justice, 2007). The Patriot Act does not keep the interests of American citizens in mind because it sacrifices crucial civil rights that have been guaranteed by the Bill of Rights ever since 1776 (United States, 2007).

There is no question that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. The Act violates the fundamental American ideal of "checks and balances" on government power. Normally, the government cannot conduct

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