Civil Liberties, Civil Rights and Congress
Lincoln College Online
May 26, 2013
Forty-five days after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress passed the US PATRIOT Act, also known as the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act, or more simply, the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was created with the noble intention of finding and prosecuting international terrorists operating on American soil; however, the unfortunate consequences of the Act have been drastic. Many of the Patriot Act’s provisions are in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution—a document drafted by wise men like Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington in order to protect American rights and freedoms. The Patriot Act encroaches on sacred First Amendment rights, which protect free speech and expression, and Fourth Amendment rights, which protect citizens against “unwarranted search and seizure”. The Patriot Act authorizes unethical and unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens with a negligible improvement in national security. Free speech, free thinking, and a free American lifestyle can’t survive in the climate of distrust and constant fear created by the Patriot Act. The great American patriot Robert F. Kennedy once said in his famous “Day of Affirmation Address” that the first and most critical element of “individual liberty is the freedom of speech; the right to express and communicate ideas, to set oneself apart from the dumb beasts of field and forest ” (Kennedy, 1966). Modern American politicians and lawmakers, it seems, have lost sight of the important ideals that Kennedy spoke about and upon which this country was founded—ideals like civil rights, personal freedom, and the right to privacy. Congress approved the Patriot Act by an overwhelming margin shortly after the infamous terrorist acts. The House voted 357-66 in...
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