The Patriot Act: A Breakdown And In Depth View Of The Unconstitionality Of Various Aspects Of The Patriot Act.

2496 words - 10 pages

On September 11th, 2001 the United States experienced the worst attack on its soil in over a century. More people were killed in a single day than in the Pearl Harbor attack, not since the Civil War had U.S soil seen such bloodshed. In less than six weeks Congress passed the USA Patriot act, with effectively no debate or scrutiny. It was passed in great haste and secrecy in the name of the "War on Terrorism". The 342 page document consisted of sweeping legislations which removed the checks on law enforcement that are afforded for our protection under our Constitution, and many members of Congress have later admitted to not even reading it . Additionally, it expanded the government's authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on a number of powers such as judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court (ACLU,1). Parts of the Patriot Act directly infringe on our First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, a blatant act of civil rights violation.Unknown to many individuals many of the changes to citizen surveillance laws made by the Patriot Act were on a longstanding wish list of law enforcement members, which had been consistently turned down by Congress(ACLU, 7). Essentially the only reason that the Patriot Act was passed was that Congress was pressured by the Bush administration, with individuals being singled out as unpatriotic and terrorist sympathizers (Turner, 1). As stated earlier, many individuals decided to not bother reading the lengthy document. Congress and our Administration acted without a single effort to determine whether or not the terrorist attacks were due to weaknesses in our surveillance laws or if the changes that were being made would have impacted the outcome of the attacks in any way. Significant portions of the Patriot Act involve little or nothing about terrorism, and arguably would have made no difference had the laws been in effect pre-9/11.When the time came to vote on the Patriot Act in the Senate it went straight to the floor, no discussion, no debate and no hearings. Numerous Senators complained of having little or no chance of reading it, let alone analyze it before it went to the floor for a vote. Discussion about amendments or changes weren't allowed and the Bush Administration implied that members who voted against it would be blamed for any and all terrorist attacks after refusing to sign the bill (ACLU, 2). This was occurring at a time when anthrax tainted letters were being sent to Senators and Representatives and they believed that another terrorist attack was imminent; it was understandably viewed as an incredibly powerful threat.The Patriot Act increases government surveillance in essentially four different areas: record searches, secret searches, intelligence searches and "Trap and Trace" searches. Under section 215 of the Patriot act the government's ability to look at records on an...

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