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Usa Patriot Act - Persuasive Essay

Essay by   •  February 29, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,887 Words (8 Pages)  •  3,156 Views

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The USA Patriot Act is one of the most controversial bills passed in the history of the United States. It provided law enforcement several new tools to be used in the anti-terrorism efforts. Overwhelmingly passed in late 2001 under President George W. Bush, following the September 11 and anthrax terrorist attacks, the Patriot Act encompassed several radical changes to the US law at the time. The USA PATRIOT Act is actually an acronym for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, which states its primary objective clearly and provides the underlying rationale for its individual components. The Patriot Act has itself been through an extensive number of changes from conception to present, but has essentially maintained its original identity, despite adamant scrutiny, due to the fact that it simply is necessary and justified. It has actually proven its effectiveness numerous times since it came into law and is an invaluable tool in protecting the safety of our nation.

Sparked by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States as a whole became acutely aware that there existed some severe flaws in the security of the nation. On October 26, 2001, the Patriot Act was passed in response, to address these weaknesses in the former counter-terrorism strategies. The Patriot Act consisted of 10 primary sections, each granting law enforcement an increased arsenal with which to work with. These included Enhancing Domestic Security against Terrorism (Title I), Enhanced Surveillance Procedures (Title II), Removing obstacles to investigating terrorism (Title V), and Increased information sharing for critical infrastructure protection( Title VII), to name a few. Several sections of the bill are advocated almost universally but others face intense pressure. The act, in short, required that US citizens sacrifice some civil liberties so as to allow law enforcement to be more efficient and capable in their anti-terrorism efforts.

The primary controversy lies mainly in this sacrifice of civil liberties. These adjusted civil liberties, addressed in Title II, focused mainly on individual privacy in that it basically allowed law enforcement to monitor people without probable cause. Some of these monitoring tools include technologies to monitor e-mail, phone calls, medical records, Internet activity, and library accounts. Each of these sections have since been modified, but the act itself continues to exist and is appropriate for several reasons. The question still remains, why are such "extreme" measures necessary?

First, from the most holistic point of view, the patriot act was created with safety in mind. Its title itself justifies its existence, namely Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism. On September 11, 2001, over 3000 Americans were killed in the terrorist attacks. There was an obvious flaw is the system, and these changes in the law were necessitated. It became apparent that the current freedoms that US citizens enjoyed, was also a critical weakness in the foundation of national security, which not only could have been exploited, but clearly had been exploited by terrorists. The patriot act was written with the goal of preventing a similar or possibly an even greater attack. A government exists by the consent of the governed to promote the common good, which may not always align with individual good. This was the political philosophy of John Locke, whose ideas heavily influenced the writer of the US Constitution. His philosophy meant that a government must act, in this case adopt the patriot act, with the regards of the nation as a whole before consideration of any single individual. Requiring a compromise by each individuals privacy for the sake of all of the people in the nation is an appropriate government act and justifies is existence.

More specifically, it must be reasoned how this loss is privacy is balanced out. The patriot act increases the ability of law enforcement to identify and apprehend terrorists before they act. Using the September 11 attacks as the premise for terrorist techniques, it can be seen that terrorists blend into American society homogeneously, in such a fashion that they cannot be detected using pre-patriot act methods. The systems is set up in that it can only identify criminals once they have committed a crime. Terrorists have exploited this system in that they do not commit crimes so as to hide in plain sight. Al-quaeda even trains their members to blend in. Their first crimes are often the extreme terrorist attacks that the patriot act aims to prevent. We must expand our ability to apprehend these terrorists before they commit a crime, which can only be done by monitoring individuals that would not normally have reason to be suspected.

The patriot act accomplishes many of these preventative tools by circumventing the probable cause requirement. Probable cause was required so as to prevent US citizens from being investigated in any manner for no given reason. Law enforcement must see suspicious activity before they can investigate. This law is exploited by terrorists to conceal their identities. It can deter the rate at which investigations can be carried out on individuals and more often will prevent such investigations from being carried out in the first place. Time is of critical importance when it comes to the magnitude of terrorism and the only way to combat it is pro-actively. Everyone must be allowed to be monitored equally and actively to create an opportunity to prevent an attack.

The main concern with allowing such capabilities by the government is with individuals personal information which must be monitored so as to allow possible interception of relevant data. The true fact is that although the law allows law enforcement to monitor without probable cause, it is often not the case due to the impracticality of idea. The actual monitoring of individuals is expensive and difficult. This means that the use of these surveillance technologies are not unlimited. Rather, it is targeted toward key factors that have shown significant correlation to terrorism. Although,

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