The with little opposition on October 26, 2001.

The
USA Patriot Act was established after September 11, 2001 when terrorists
attacked the Twin Towers in New York City. 
The Patriot Act has raised tremendous controversy about whether it
infringes on the civil liberties of United States Citizens.  Our previous presidents made laws that were
the 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 the
Patriot Act and whether it is more harmful than it is helpful to us.  “In relation to the Patriot Act and how it
deprives those accused under it of Constitutional rights, the American people
should be concerned with how much power our government has when developing laws
governing our civil liberties,” states a law student from LawTeacher.Net in
their essay, Effects of the Patriot Act.

The
Patriot Act came into existence as a response to the events of September
11th.  This bill came to be known as the
Patriot Act and was introduced to Congress just days after September 11th.  It was revised because of concerns from many
congressmen that the bill allowed for too broad of a scope of power to federal
authorities.  Eventually after the bill
was revised and reintroduced, Congress passed it with little opposition on
October 26, 2001.  Senator Russell
Feingold, would up being the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act,
according to LawTeacher.Net.

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Since
becoming official, the Patriot Act has been extremely criticized for being very
broad and “too open for interpretation.”  In 2004, a judge ruled that parts of the
Patriot Act were unconstitutional because they were “too vague and in violation
of the First and Fifth Amendments.”  An
additional criticism of the Patriot Act is that “it does not guarantee enough
oversight to make sure that those that are given power by the act do not misuse
it.” Says a law student in their essay, Effects
of the Patriot Act.

One
person who agrees that the Patriot Act is Unconstitutional is Erwin
Chemerinsky, Alston and Bird Professor of Law at Duke Law School, who in his
speech, Post 9/11 Civil Right: Are
Americans Sacrificing Freedom for Security mentions, “What I believe has
gone on since September 11th are unprecedented actions by the government
to take away civil liberties, and not in ways that will make us any safer.”  Erwin Chemerinsky believes that the government
is using an attack on the nation to revoke civil liberties in the name of
national security.  He mentions that this
sort of event has occurred previously and repeatedly in history.  Chemerinsky uses the World War II as an
example of when this has happened previously in United States History.  He states in the speech Are Americans Sacrificing Freedom for Security,

During
World War II, 120,000 Japanese-Americans, aliens and citizens, and 70,000 war
citizens were uprooted from their life-long homes and placed in what Franklin
Roosevelt called “concentration camps.” Race alone determined who was free and
who was put behind barbed wire. The invasion of civil rights was enormous. It
didn’t do anything to make the country safer. Not one Japanese-American was
ever accused, indicated, or convicted of espionage or any crime implicating
national security.

 

This
reference shows Chemerinsky’s viewpoint on the topic.  He feels as if the implementation of the
Patriot Act after September 11th was equivalent to when the
Japanese-Americans were sentenced to “concentration camps” during World War II.
He also mentions another example from history. He references the McCarthy Era
by saying “…during the McCarthy era, many people lost their jobs, and even
their liberty, based on suspicion of being a communist. It truly was the age of
suspicion…The reality is that people went to prison simply for activities
protected by the First Amendment.”

There
is also the fear of terrorist attacks on the US by its own citizens. For
example, the Oklahoma City Bombing “In some cases, there is a need for the
government to suspect an American citizen and do surveillance to protect the
country from another such tragedy. The government has been doing espionage work
for longer than most people think. It is not a new practice, but with the
technology we have today, it is easier for authorities to collect intelligence,”
states the law student from LawTeacher.Net. However, the opposing argument
would be that “Even though they have this technology at their disposal does not
mean that the Constitution can be ignored in the name of protecting the US.”

One
way the Patriot Act has been used in a wrong way is in the case of Jose
Padilla. He allegedly plotted with al Qaeda terrorists to detonate a “dirty
bomb” in a US city. The second he got off a plane in the United States he
was detained. “The Bush Administration claimed that he could be detained even
though he was an American citizen because he had been deemed an ‘enemy
combatant’ by the president. He was then held in a military brig for three and
a half years and was allegedly subjected to torture at the hands of US officials
trying to elicit information from him. At that time, he was not charged with
any 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).

Chemerinsky
speaks on this topic as well. He states from his speech Are Americans Sacrificing Freedom for Security, “Now the argument
is made that Padilla allegedly had ties to Al-Queda, a foreign power. Does that
mean that an administration can take anybody who is accused of a drug case, say
he allegedly has ties to Colombian drug lords and designate that person as an
enemy combatant in the war on drugs?” This analogy helps to put the case into
perspective and shows that Chemerinsky sees both examples equally irrational
and as an attack on basic civil liberties.

An
article by Andaleeb Khalil called The
Patriot Act and Its Infringement on
Civil Liberties, mentions that “The Patriot Act poses many threats to the
civil liberties of individuals. There are a number of sections in the Patriot
Act that seem to go against the general notion of privacy that is implied in
the Constitution. In Title II of the Patriot Act, Section 201 titled, Authority
to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism,
the government acts against the Constitution.” The author then goes on to
explain how this goes against the constitution,

 

“By
looking at this section from a constitutional standpoint, there are many issues
that are brought up just by this short sentence. First, terrorism isn’t really
defined. This makes a difference because how much authority the government
actually has in interfering with communications among citizens depends on how
you define terrorism. It appears that terrorism is left vague to broaden the
scope of the Patriot Act allowing for potential pit falls and conflicts with
some civil liberties. Also, since terrorism is not defined, this opens the door
to monitoring the communication among individuals hence going against the
Fourth Amendment and the Constitution.”

           

Section
215, titled, Access to records and other items under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, allows the government to obtain any list of names of people
to look into information ( e.g. library rentals, video rentals, medical,
church, mosque documents etc) without receiving consent from the individual, as
long as the government says it is to protect its citizens from the war on
terrorism. Khalil states that “This part of the Act alone takes the right to
privacy away from citizens. Citizens do not have the liberty to check out books
as they please without possibly fearing that the government might suspect them
being involved with terrorism.”

            According to Khalil, “The Patriot
Act continues to infringe on civil liberties.” Khalil is referring to Section
213 of the Patriot Act, which is titled, Authority for delaying notice of the
execution of a warrant. This allows government officials to search private
property without the property owner’s prior notice. Khalil mentions that this
section “violates common law” Common law is the law which is applicable to all
the states, which protects the rights of potential innocent citizens. Khalil
says that “These searches if timed correctly will turn into secret searches in
which the property owner in question has no idea that their property was
searched.” Khalil believes that “This new power granted to government breaks
the system of checks and balances placed by the founding fathers of the
Constitution. Granting the government a right to search property without prior
notice or any notice is not only a violation of common law but more importantly
a violation of the Fourth Amendment which clearly and explicitly prohibits the
government from unreasonable searches and a case called Mapp v. Ohio reaffirms
this.”

            In Mapp v. Ohio, the Supreme Court
says that the Exclusionary rule is necessary for people’s rights not to be
violated. The Fourth Amendment states that police and governmental officials
are not allowed to search an area without a warrant. So, in creating the
Patriot Act, they had to create a rule to work around the Constitution. And
Khalil states that, “Not only does the Patriot Act allow the government to conduct
unreasonable searches, as defined by the government, it grants the government
the ability to search without any reasons unreasonable or otherwise.”

            Section 412 of the Patriot Act,
titled, Mandatory detention of suspected terrorists; habeas corpus; judicial
review; according to Khalil “violates the Sixth Amendment which guarantees a
fair and speedy trial.” He says that this is because in Powell v. Alabama, the
Court said that the process must be just no matter who the accused is. The
Court ruled that if a just process is not being in place, that it is against
the Constitution. Khalil mentions that because of this “Section 412 is
unconstitutional since it does not allow the trial process to be just.”

            A law student mentions in their
essay Effects of the Patriot Act,
that “the Patriot Act goes against everything that this country stands for and
deprives us all of our civil liberties.” However, others argue that “It is
necessary to maintain order.” But the author of Effects of the Patriot Act, believes that “You cannot give
limitless power to a few and expect things to turn out well. If the Patriot Act
is 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 or
abuse the power given to them.” They also mention that they believe “The
president 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 basic
human rights.”

            Khalil also states in the “Final
Evaluation” of his article, The Patriot
Act and Its Infringement on Civil
Liberties, that “Even if the Patriot Act was formulated to serve as a tool
to prevent future terrorist activities, there are major sections in the Act
that seem to infringe immensely on the rights of individuals” Khalil also
believes 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 that
America lives by is freedom and liberty. The government has previously intruded
on the rights of Americans in other times of crises. Still however, there are
parts in the Patriot Act that allows the government to do things that they
never before have done.”