The Not So Patriotic Patriot Act
On September 11, 2001 the United States was attacked by a terrorist group on our own soil. On October 26, 2011 the US Government signed into law the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA Patriot Act). Only one and a half months after we were attacked physically by a terrorist group, our government decided that we would be better off with a lot less freedom in order to better protect America from terrorist attacks in the future. Although this seemed like an obvious need in 2001, now almost ten years later there is little evidence supporting a need for such an Act. The bottom line is that the Patriot Act allows the US Government the right to know all that we are doing, but nothing of what it is doing and why. The very freedoms we fought to protect when our country was born are now being taken away in the name of safety. Although there are many ways that the Patriot Act is directly in violation of the US Constitution the two sections that we are going to take a closer look at is Section 213 dealing with sneak and peek searches and Section 215 dealing with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders for any tangible thing. The goal in this research paper is to look at how Section 213 and 215 are able to assist in stopping terrorism, how these could be misused and some ideas on how they could be revised to protect from terrorism but also give the appropriate rights to those not involved with any kind of terrorism activity.
After September 11, 2001, law enforcement agencies were concerned that the time window between getting a search warrant and executing the search warrant was too broad. Too many people are too well connected giving terrorist time to clear out before any hard evidence was found or arrest could be made. Section 213 was written into the Patriot Act as a way to “sneak and peek” locations before potential criminals or evidence had a chance to be relocated. This would give law enforcement time to completely search through someone’s property either physically or electronically without their knowledge of it. However, at some point, they were required to inform the party of their search. In many cases, law enforcement works within a time limit during investigation of a case and Section 213 is intended to give law enforcement more leeway on how the fourth amendment is interpreted in terrorist type cases.
To sum up Section 213, agents, through very little proof of evidence, are able to enter someone’s house and do a full search of their property without any kind of notice. Obviously when it is at the discretion of the officers, they will likely overuse this power to extend past just possible terrorist attacks and call for the use of this section in other cases as well. Although there are obvious issues with this ruling, Heather MacDonald in The Patriot Act Is No Slippery Slope argues that this section is...