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Civil Liberties Versus The Usa Patriot Act.

1882 words - 8 pages

In the early 18th century, Great Britain colonized parts of North America to supply itself with raw materials and capital. The early colonists came to this country to start a new life. Many of them felt that the British government had too much control over their new lives. The colonists worked very hard, but the government imposed many taxes and created the Quartering Act which said that a colonist had to supply a British solider with shelter and food for an indefinite period of time. The colonists were not given their civil liberties and felt that they could create a better government and it was just a matter of time before they would rebel against the British and form their own government. The colonists fought the American Revolution to gain the freedoms they rightfully deserved. Once America became a country, the founding fathers created the Constitution of the United States and the first ten amendments were devoted to stating the civil liberties every person in the United States is guaranteed. These amendments were named the Bill of Rights. The Constitution has protected the people of the United States from the government except during times of war when civil liberties were compromised in the name of national security. For example, during the Civil War, Lincoln discontinued habeas corpus and instituted military tribunals. During WWII, Roosevelt rounded up Japanese-Americans and put them in internment camps until the end of the war. All of these actions were justified at the time but criticized afterwards. Now, a new bill called the USA PATRIOT Act opposes important constitutional protections. The USA PATRIOT Act threatens the civil liberties and freedoms that it should be protecting.The September 11, 2001 attacks set an extreme conflict within the United States over the proper balance between governmental power and personal privacy. The government wanted to create a bill which would strengthen our defense against terrorist attacks by greatly expanding the powers of law enforcement to gather information (Gottfried 24). This bill was called the USA PATRIOT Act which is an acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism." In the following weeks after September 11, little debate was made by the members of Congress over this bill. Most of the members of Congress did not even read it. Congress passed the bill with a vote of 357 to 66 in the House and 98 to 1 in the Senate. The USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001 by President George W. Bush (Eisendrath 201). This new bill gave many rights to law enforcement agencies that they did not have prior to 9/11. Before 9/11, law enforcement agencies had to obtain a written warrant signed by a judge to be able to investigate a person. After the USA PATRIOT Act, agents of the FBI are allowed to investigate any American citizens for criminal purposes without probable cause of a crime if it is for "intelligence...

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