Because of the tragic events of 2001, and the consequences of the terrorist act, together with the overall concern about the security situation in the world, the USA government, headed by George B7ush, came to the conclusion that the law that enables the security services act as fast as possible is needed.
Accordingly, in 2001 the so-called PATRIOT Act of 2001 was created in order to prevent the tragic events from happening on the territory of the United States. Since the act clarifies the issues of the modern security system of the government and several points on the foreign and home politics, it would be a good idea to trace its creation, consider its points and see the results of the act applied to the real political system.
Coming into legal force on October, 26 2001, the act that was read as Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 was supposed to make the active security system more efficient.
To be more precise, the new act enacted to help track down and punish terrorists and to prevent further terrorism, contains no provisions specially directed at libraries or their patrons.” (Ewing 8). Thus, it can be concluded that the act is supposed to make the system of tracking the terrorists and preventing their actions in a more efficient and productive way.
Historically, the PARTIOT Act has been derived from the act of the same meaning and influence that preceded the PATRIOT Act. Called FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it was aimed at protecting the country from the possible invasions that the opponents could undertake, and covered the points that allowed the security system to act according to the circumstances, enabled with the power to protect the citizen with every single method possible. Abele explained it in the following way:
It prescribes procedures for requesting judicial authorization for electronic surveillance and physical searches of persons engaged in espionage or international terrorism against the U.S. on behalf of a foreign power. (Abele 19)
In other words, the GISA act was aimed at maximizing the protection for the citizen of the U.S. and making the system of the international security work its best. In fact, these were the prerequisites of the PATRIOT Act emerging. In spite of the fact that the Act was aimed at the most decent aim and was supposed t be greeted with open arms, there was some chill in the society, both political and civil, as the act came into force.
However, to understand the reasons that underlay the creation of the PATRIOT Act, a deep retrospective into the history is required. The reasons that made the government make the decision to come back to the basics of the security system introduced in 1996 antiterrorism legislation were quite sufficient and well-thought. It must be admitted that these reasons were inspired by the idea of the overall security of the United States.
In order to understand the reasons for the Patriot Act, information concerning the months, weeks and days leading up to 9/11 is required. One primary reason for the Act was the belief that the traditional way of conducting business had failed; thus, the need for the Patriot act. (Smith 3)
Actually, there was a great deal of critics that made people think that the act was of no profit or use to the USA and that it practically was targeting at the democracy that the people of the United States were appreciating so much . This was the challenge that led to the accusation of not following the Constitution, which was close to passing a death penalty to the act. However, the creators of the act did not keep silence and presented well-thought arguments as well.
As it was the case after the passage of the 1996 antiterrorism legislation, immediately after passage of the 2001 Patriot Act hundreds of pressure groups condemned the law because of its capacity to diminish civil liberties protection in the name of the national security against terrorism. (Ball 70)
The idea that the opponents presumed was that, enabling the security systems to act according to their own plans in the name of defeating terrorism, the government was violating people’s rights, for the ways that the new law could be read were more than numerous. The suggestions of how far the security systems might go to provide total safety were rather gloomy and making people think of the stability of their rights and privileges.
The new law was found rather difficult to put into practice even with the parliament of the United States. Even the bodies of Congress suspected that the act will not be greeted by the citizen willingly. Actually, they had the reasons to worry.
Although the president’s influence is evident in both congressional bills, members of the House and the Senate fought hard to strike a balance between increasing the power of intelligence and law enforcement personnel and eroding civil liberties including the right to privacy granted to all American citizens. (Scheppler 27)
Indeed, taking into account that the new law presupposed that the intelligence had the rights of wiretapping and getting involved into people’s personal life, this was close to challenging the principles of the USA democracy. However good and efficient the new system of protection could be the violation of the nation’s constitutional rights was fraught with undesirable consequences, up to rebellion. Of course, the government could not allow itself to go that far.
The things that stirred such great debates in the society were the methods that FBI was allowed to apply to trace and prevent the terrorist acts before they took people’s lives. These could be many, but the most well-known are wiretapping and pen registers. As the most obvious violation of human’s rights, these methods were criticized by the population severely.
Section 216 of the Patriot Act amended the existing pen register and trap and trace laws to include e-mail messages. The Patriot Act allows intelligence agents to capture outgoing and incoming e-mail addresses, without intercepting e-mail content or subject line text. (Scheppler 32)
This triggered numerous protests that were held in 2001 for the act to be disabled so that people could feel safe about the freedoms that they had. “Given the past record in American history, these critics were not sanguine about the future of the civil liberties in the new age of asymmetrical warfare against terrorism” (Ball 70).
Indeed, the American citizens had the reason to worry, taking into consideration all the sufferings that the USA was to go through to achieve the democracy that they had. The new law did give the personal safety that was needed badly in the age when terrorists were so successful in their cruel act, but there still was the need for the democratic approach, which the new law seemed to ignore.
However, the ample heaps of critics that have been poured on the new project overlooked a very important subject, which was the importance of the national security system reinforcement. With all its drawbacks and the points that blowed the basis of the American democracy, it still provided a sufficient protection from the invaders.
This was the reason that had to be taken into account, for people needed security and protection badly. The terrorist acts might occur once again, and even more people could suffer. While there was something that could be done about the dangerous situation, all possible measures were to be undertaken.
Still it must be admitted that there were the positive feedbacks from the population, since it was understood that it was the matter of life and death for the U.S., the terrorist acts able to occur every single moment. The restrictions were needed to be applied to the acting system of security, which was well understood and was considered the prior goal of the governmental bodies.
As time passed, the date of expiry of some of the positions in the Act was approaching. The date when these positions were disabled from the further influence was December 31, 2005. By that time, the security system should have improved and detected the probable danger of terrorism. According to the results that have been presented by that time, there were major achievements that have to be spoken about.
After all, the danger of the terrorist acts was solely vanishing, and people could finally feel safer in their own homeland. Although, like any other countries, U.S. cannot guarantee a complete safety, but the danger of the terrorist acts was practically nullified. The results spoke for themselves, claiming the new law to be effective.
Finally, the PATRIOT Act has gained the support among the American citizens and has proved its being a worthy method of solving the problems of the foreign policy that are connected with terrorism. It has been a valuable experience for the American people, and the safety that it provides guarantees that the USA will not suffer from the terrorism acts anymore.
Abele, Robert. P. A User’s Guide to the USA Patriot Act and beyond. New York, NY: University Press of America, 2005. Print.
Ball, Howard. USA Patriot Act of 2001. Santa-Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004. Print.
Ewing, Alphonse B., and Charles Doyle. The USA Patriot Act Reader. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Publishers, 2005. Print.
Scheppler, Bill. The USA Patriot Act: Antiterror Legislation in Response to 9/11. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing Group, 2005. Print.
Smith, Cary S., and Li-Ching Hung. The PATRIOT Act: Issues and Controversies. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas Publisher, 2010. Print.