TheUSA Patriot Act was established after September 11, 2001 when terroristsattacked the Twin Towers in New York City.
The Patriot Act has raised tremendous controversy about whether itinfringes on the civil liberties of United States Citizens. Our previous presidents made laws that werethe foundation for the ideas which created the Patriot Act. The government’s job is to protect its’citizens, however it has a larger job which is to protect the nation. This has raised many questions involving thePatriot Act and whether it is more harmful than it is helpful to us. “In relation to the Patriot Act and how itdeprives those accused under it of Constitutional rights, the American peopleshould be concerned with how much power our government has when developing lawsgoverning our civil liberties,” states a law student from LawTeacher.
Net intheir essay, Effects of the Patriot Act.ThePatriot Act came into existence as a response to the events of September11th. This bill came to be known as thePatriot Act and was introduced to Congress just days after September 11th. It was revised because of concerns from manycongressmen that the bill allowed for too broad of a scope of power to federalauthorities.
Eventually after the billwas revised and reintroduced, Congress passed it with little opposition onOctober 26, 2001. Senator RussellFeingold, would up being the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act,according to LawTeacher.Net.Sincebecoming official, the Patriot Act has been extremely criticized for being verybroad and “too open for interpretation.” In 2004, a judge ruled that parts of thePatriot Act were unconstitutional because they were “too vague and in violationof the First and Fifth Amendments.” Anadditional criticism of the Patriot Act is that “it does not guarantee enoughoversight to make sure that those that are given power by the act do not misuseit.” Says a law student in their essay, Effectsof the Patriot Act.
Oneperson who agrees that the Patriot Act is Unconstitutional is ErwinChemerinsky, Alston and Bird Professor of Law at Duke Law School, who in hisspeech, Post 9/11 Civil Right: AreAmericans Sacrificing Freedom for Security mentions, “What I believe hasgone on since September 11th are unprecedented actions by the governmentto take away civil liberties, and not in ways that will make us any safer.” Erwin Chemerinsky believes that the governmentis using an attack on the nation to revoke civil liberties in the name ofnational security. He mentions that thissort of event has occurred previously and repeatedly in history. Chemerinsky uses the World War II as anexample of when this has happened previously in United States History. He states in the speech Are Americans Sacrificing Freedom for Security, DuringWorld War II, 120,000 Japanese-Americans, aliens and citizens, and 70,000 warcitizens were uprooted from their life-long homes and placed in what FranklinRoosevelt called “concentration camps.” Race alone determined who was free andwho was put behind barbed wire. The invasion of civil rights was enormous.
Itdidn’t do anything to make the country safer. Not one Japanese-American wasever accused, indicated, or convicted of espionage or any crime implicatingnational security. Thisreference shows Chemerinsky’s viewpoint on the topic. He feels as if the implementation of thePatriot Act after September 11th was equivalent to when theJapanese-Americans were sentenced to “concentration camps” during World War II.He also mentions another example from history. He references the McCarthy Eraby saying “…during the McCarthy era, many people lost their jobs, and eventheir liberty, based on suspicion of being a communist.
It truly was the age ofsuspicion…The reality is that people went to prison simply for activitiesprotected by the First Amendment.”Thereis also the fear of terrorist attacks on the US by its own citizens. Forexample, the Oklahoma City Bombing “In some cases, there is a need for thegovernment to suspect an American citizen and do surveillance to protect thecountry from another such tragedy. The government has been doing espionage workfor longer than most people think. It is not a new practice, but with thetechnology we have today, it is easier for authorities to collect intelligence,”states the law student from LawTeacher.Net. However, the opposing argumentwould be that “Even though they have this technology at their disposal does notmean that the Constitution can be ignored in the name of protecting the US.
“Oneway the Patriot Act has been used in a wrong way is in the case of JosePadilla. He allegedly plotted with al Qaeda terrorists to detonate a “dirtybomb” in a US city. The second he got off a plane in the United States hewas detained. “The Bush Administration claimed that he could be detained eventhough he was an American citizen because he had been deemed an ‘enemycombatant’ by the president. He was then held in a military brig for three anda half years and was allegedly subjected to torture at the hands of US officialstrying to elicit information from him. At that time, he was not charged withany crimes even though it was said there was overwhelming evidence against him.He was also cut off from all communication with his family and attorney”(Martinez, 2007).
Chemerinskyspeaks on this topic as well. He states from his speech Are Americans Sacrificing Freedom for Security, “Now the argumentis made that Padilla allegedly had ties to Al-Queda, a foreign power. Does thatmean that an administration can take anybody who is accused of a drug case, sayhe allegedly has ties to Colombian drug lords and designate that person as anenemy combatant in the war on drugs?” This analogy helps to put the case intoperspective and shows that Chemerinsky sees both examples equally irrationaland as an attack on basic civil liberties.Anarticle by Andaleeb Khalil called ThePatriot Act and Its Infringement onCivil Liberties, mentions that “The Patriot Act poses many threats to thecivil liberties of individuals. There are a number of sections in the PatriotAct that seem to go against the general notion of privacy that is implied inthe Constitution. In Title II of the Patriot Act, Section 201 titled, Authorityto intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism,the government acts against the Constitution.” The author then goes on toexplain how this goes against the constitution, “Bylooking at this section from a constitutional standpoint, there are many issuesthat are brought up just by this short sentence.
First, terrorism isn’t reallydefined. This makes a difference because how much authority the governmentactually has in interfering with communications among citizens depends on howyou define terrorism. It appears that terrorism is left vague to broaden thescope of the Patriot Act allowing for potential pit falls and conflicts withsome civil liberties. Also, since terrorism is not defined, this opens the doorto monitoring the communication among individuals hence going against theFourth Amendment and the Constitution.” Section215, titled, Access to records and other items under the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Act, allows the government to obtain any list of names of peopleto look into information ( e.g.
library rentals, video rentals, medical,church, mosque documents etc) without receiving consent from the individual, aslong as the government says it is to protect its citizens from the war onterrorism. Khalil states that “This part of the Act alone takes the right toprivacy away from citizens. Citizens do not have the liberty to check out booksas they please without possibly fearing that the government might suspect thembeing involved with terrorism.” According to Khalil, “The PatriotAct continues to infringe on civil liberties.” Khalil is referring to Section213 of the Patriot Act, which is titled, Authority for delaying notice of theexecution of a warrant. This allows government officials to search privateproperty without the property owner’s prior notice. Khalil mentions that thissection “violates common law” Common law is the law which is applicable to allthe states, which protects the rights of potential innocent citizens. Khalilsays that “These searches if timed correctly will turn into secret searches inwhich the property owner in question has no idea that their property wassearched.
” Khalil believes that “This new power granted to government breaksthe system of checks and balances placed by the founding fathers of theConstitution. Granting the government a right to search property without priornotice or any notice is not only a violation of common law but more importantlya violation of the Fourth Amendment which clearly and explicitly prohibits thegovernment from unreasonable searches and a case called Mapp v. Ohio reaffirmsthis.
” In Mapp v. Ohio, the Supreme Courtsays that the Exclusionary rule is necessary for people’s rights not to beviolated. The Fourth Amendment states that police and governmental officialsare not allowed to search an area without a warrant. So, in creating thePatriot Act, they had to create a rule to work around the Constitution.
AndKhalil states that, “Not only does the Patriot Act allow the government to conductunreasonable searches, as defined by the government, it grants the governmentthe ability to search without any reasons unreasonable or otherwise.” Section 412 of the Patriot Act,titled, Mandatory detention of suspected terrorists; habeas corpus; judicialreview; according to Khalil “violates the Sixth Amendment which guarantees afair and speedy trial.” He says that this is because in Powell v. Alabama, theCourt said that the process must be just no matter who the accused is. TheCourt ruled that if a just process is not being in place, that it is againstthe Constitution. Khalil mentions that because of this “Section 412 isunconstitutional since it does not allow the trial process to be just.” A law student mentions in theiressay Effects of the Patriot Act,that “the Patriot Act goes against everything that this country stands for anddeprives us all of our civil liberties.
” However, others argue that “It isnecessary to maintain order.” But the author of Effects of the Patriot Act, believes that “You cannot givelimitless power to a few and expect things to turn out well. If the Patriot Actis to be kept as law, the people that we elect to the House of Representatives(House) and Senate need to hold the people who use it accountable who overstep orabuse the power given to them.” They also mention that they believe “Thepresident should not be the deciding factor in deeming an individual a ‘threat’or ‘enemy combatant’ when giving a person such a title strips them of basichuman rights.” Khalil also states in the “FinalEvaluation” of his article, The PatriotAct and Its Infringement on CivilLiberties, that “Even if the Patriot Act was formulated to serve as a toolto prevent future terrorist activities, there are major sections in the Actthat seem to infringe immensely on the rights of individuals” Khalil alsobelieves that “The more the government seeks to protect the American people,the more they seem to take away from our liberty. A core democratic value thatAmerica lives by is freedom and liberty. The government has previously intrudedon the rights of Americans in other times of crises.
Still however, there areparts in the Patriot Act that allows the government to do things that theynever before have done.”