The Constitutionality Of The Usa Patriot Act

2119 words - 8 pages

The Constitutionality of the USA PATRIOT Act

One of America’s founding father said that “those who surrender freedom for security

will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Benjamin Franklin’s belief is especially relevant

today, following the introduction a Big Brother-like Act of Congress, the USA Patriot Act. In

such a case, which employs draconian methods to stop terrorists, an important question must be

asked: Should we give up our constitutional rights to facilitate the prosecution of terrorists? I

believe that the USA Patriot Act is an ineffective tool to combat terrorism because it legalises a

series of unconstitutional provisions used to combat terrorism. The Patriot Act is not

constitutionally sound because it promotes surveillance programs, strengthens the use of

National Security Letters and violates the moral code set by the Constitution.

What is the Patriot Act?

The USA Patriot Act was signed into law on October 26th, 2001 as a result of the

September 11, 2001 attacks. The act’s title stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by

Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (“What Is The USA

Patriot”). The act consists of 10 titles, which share the common goal of preventing and

punishing future terrorist attacks. The implemented provisions range from providing victims

financial compensation to obtaining otherwise confidential information.

President Bush originally signed the act in 2001, and President Obama later renewed

important clauses that were set to “sunset”, or expire, in 2005 and once again in 2010

(Grabianowski, “How The Patriot Act Works”). The clauses that were going to sunset were the

ability to use roving wiretaps, to share foreign intelligence information and to issue National

Security Letters. Every other provision has been made a permanent addition to the American

Ever since its introduction, the Patriot Act was subject to heavy criticism. Congressmen

were given less than 48 hours to analyse the final wording of act. The act passed almost

unanimously in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In fact, only one senator, Russ

Feingold of Wisconsin, voted against it (Grabianowski, “How The Patriot Act Works”). The act

was also written in response to the September 11 attacks, a moment when emotions were high

and the public opinion on terrorism was drastically changed. The Patriot Act offered comfort

against everything that was troubling the American people at the time.

Title II: Enhanced Surveillance Procedures

The second title of the Patriot Act, surnamed Enhanced Surveillance Procedures

enhances the ability for federal government workers to obtain information regarding terrorist

activity. This section of the Patriot Act legalises the use of roving wiretaps on people suspected

of terrorism. Previously, only a specific line could be intercepted by law-enforcement agencies.

A roving wiretap order, issued by...

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