Individual Privacy vs. National Security

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Individual Privacy vs. National Security

ENG 122

Individual Privacy vs. National Security
Since October 26, 2001, Americans have been debating the issue of the USA PATRIOT Act (PLAW 107-56, 2001) and its claimed encroachment of American civil liberties and Constitutional rights. Many Americans oppose this new law because they believe it gives the Federal Government and its agencies too much freedom to conduct surveillance using various methods (i.e., cell phones, internet, financial systems databases), and argue that freedom goes against their First Amendment rights which protect their freedom of speech and their Fourth Amendment Rights which protect “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” (Justice, 2006). It can be said that some Americans also believe that the PATRIOT Act is unethical and unconstitutional, based on my research, and has little to no benefit to National Security. Many Americans do not understand how important this new legislation is and how beneficial it could be when the systems that are being implemented have a chance to grow and the government agencies that have been tasked with using this new legislation have the opportunity to perfect its application. The PATRIOT Act legislation, while controversial, has been far more beneficial to the safety of the American People and National Security while not illegally violating Constitutional rights.

In this research, data has been collected from various sources to show that the PATRIOT Act of 2001 does in fact have merit where National Security is concerned and does not necessarily infringe upon individual privacy unless there is good cause for the Federal agencies involved to use the methods outlined in the law to gather information on suspected acts of terrorism and other terrorist related crimes. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, our National Security has been in the forefront of many Americans’ minds and our Government as a whole. The rights afforded to the American people by the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are clear however they were written in a time much different than today. It would be ludicrous to think our founding fathers could have anticipated the types of threats our society faces today and yet they did a fantastic job of providing the framework in which the American people have lived by since 1787. That framework has made the United States a model for other countries and their governments to follow in order to better protect its citizens. That being said, it is quite clear that this framework, while somewhat “all encompassing”, is not without flaw and from time to time needs perfection. The attacks on our way of life in September 2001 have shown that our system and our Constitution have inherent vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. This is where the PATRIOT Act comes into play. The PATRIOT Act was designed to address shortcomings in the way Federal agencies conduct investigative activities. While it can be said that the opportunity to abuse the provisions listed in the PATRIOT Act could become a problem and without proper oversight could infringe on American civil liberties, current events have dictated a closer look at the way in which Federal Agencies investigate threats on the American way of life. It is an important viewpoint that needed closer evaluation due to the nature of the law and the benefit, which is evident in much of the research that was conducted, speaks for itself. The problem is implementing and maintaining this legislation has not come without its pitfalls and feverish debates have taken place due to the implications the PATRIOT Act has on American Civil Liberties. The PATRIOT Act gives the Federal Government increased freedom to use existing laws in an effort to better protect the American people. While conducting the research, countless articles and news related stories...
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