American Civil Liberties are NOT Violated by the Patriot Act
As we face the threat of terrorism, how do we protect ourselves without hurting our freedoms? Today, terrorism is a major threat to our homeland security and has become increasingly more prevalent and difficult to monitor with the public's accessibility to communication and information through today's technology. Terrorists are now able to communicate more freely with recent technological advances. In an effort to combat this new threat, the government passed the Patriot Act, which was created to relieve some of the difficulties of monitoring communications and activities of the public so the government can easily detect terrorist activity. In response to the Patriot Act, many argue that this law takes away our civil liberties as Americans. Others believe we must lose some of our liberties to gain protection. This essay offers a critical analysis of the arguments for and against the U.S. Patriot Act. The result will be a conclusion affirming the validity of the U.S. Patriot Act due to the fact that our civil liberties are not violated to the extent argued by the opposition.
The U.S. Patriot Act was a bill adopted under the Bush administration that purportedly affords the government the tools required to surveil, investigate, and share information pertaining to national security without major judicial constraints. This allows the government, for instance, to monitor Internet usage and provides effective communication between different agencies of federal authorities (Olsen, 2001). Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, while discussing the Patriot Act and its role in improving communication within the agencies said,
"...we have got to be able to exchange information and bring together all of the knowledge in the U.S. government, and we can't afford to have people lose their lives because part of the information is in one department and part is in another department and they are not talking to each other" (Frank, 2002, p. 1505).
The Patriot Act expands the "pen register" statute to include electronic communications and Internet usage, which was previously limited to tracing of telephone numbers called by suspect criminals (Olsen, 2001). In addition, this act allows the government to obtain warrants to examine what people read in libraries and bookstores from records on what a person checks out or buys. Moreover, the law allows the government to detain or deport suspects of terrorism as well as monitor financial transcripts and electronic records. Recently, the federal court ruled to expand the use of wiretaps and other surveillance techniques in tracking suspected terrorists under the Patriot Act. The main part of the ruling is removing previously existing legal barriers between the FBI and the Justice Department investigators, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel (Fox, November 2002).
Those opposed to...