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Patriots Ethics Paper

Essay by   •  November 5, 2015  •  Essay  •  747 Words (3 Pages)  •  660 Views

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        Following the attacks on the twin towers in 2001, Congress approved the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, more popularly known as the Patriot Act. This act, among other provisions, granted government agencies more authority to monitor communications within the United States in order to locate and eliminate potential terrorist activities. While this may have passed with the best intentions, many argue that the result was a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment gives clear rights against unwarranted search and seizure, yet the Patriot Act allows government officials the authority to set up surveillance on citizens without demanding sufficient proof. Personal freedoms and national security have always been at odds with each other, and striking a balance is becoming more difficult now than ever. New advances in technology have given humans both the opportunity for growth and development, but also for destruction. Between nuclear devices and the potential consequences of a malicious hacker, the higher we climb the further we have to fall. The Patriot Act has been abused, but some of our freedoms may need to be reevaluated for the sake of our national security.

        Most of our rights as a United States citizen are not absolute, but have to be balanced against our other rights. For example, while we may all the right to free speech, we are not entitled to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre because it puts the lives of others in danger. Similarly, our right to privacy is not absolute but has to be balanced with security. Technology has enhanced our lives but at a cost. The systems that we rely on everyday are vulnerable to cyber attacks and other malicious acts. In the times of our founding fathers, the damage a few renegades could do was limited to a few sticks of TNT and a barrel of gunpowder. In 1961 Russia detonated the ‘Tsar Bomba’, a nuclear device that was 2500 times more powerful than the ‘Little Boy’ that the United States dropped over Hiroshima. Over the past 50 years these nuclear devices have become smaller and smaller, with the capabilities to be easily transported in purses and briefcases. Each of these attacks has the ability to wreck havoc in their own way, and to prevent similar acts of terrorism the Patriot act was adopted in 2001 with almost complete unanimity.

        While the Patriot Act was passed to target potential terrorist, the act granted the government a lot more power than originally thought. Representative James Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act, wrote a letter in which he stated he was “disturbed” by the how the Act was interpreted, allowing the NSA to collect call data for American citizens without their knowledge or any suspicion of wrongdoing. Instead of using the act to gain information on potential terrorist, it is being used to gain information on mass amounts of citizens to find the potential terrorist. This includes sifting through large numbers of obviously innocent citizen’s records trying to find a potential threat. While we need to keep national security in mind, allowing “big brother” to watch everything we do is going too far.

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