Liberties and Constitutional Freedoms
Expository Writing TTH 2-350pm
California State University San Bernardino
The catastrophic events that took place on September 11, 2001 opened America’s eyes to the realization that we are not as safe as we believed. Hi-jackers took control of four commercial jets with sole intentions of causing destruction on American soil. Three of the planes reached their targets completely destroying the World Trade Center and severely damaging the Pentagon. In the wake of this realization, legislation was passed that gave far reaching powers to the government to protect the United States and its citizens. This legislation is The USA Patriot Act of 2001. President Bush signed the act into law on October 26, 2001. The goal of this paper is to explore the changes that were made due to the passage of The USA Patriot Act, the controversy in the speediness of its passage and what it means for our civil liberties and our rights under the constitution. What price are we paying to feel safer in this country?
At 8:46 am: Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Flight 11 crashes at roughly 490 mph into the north side of the north tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 94 and 98. At 9:03 am: Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center Flight 175 crashes at about 590 mph into the south side of the south tower banked between floors 78 and 84. By this time, several media organizations are covering the first plane crash; millions see the impact live. [ (Umminger, et al., 2006) ] It is this event that forever changed the American people. America, one of the strongest nations on earth, witnessing the sheer magnitude of what took place; eyes were opened to the need for increased security. The investigation of the attacks revealed that the attackers were foreign born terrorist who were trained on American soil. Coupled with terrorist attacks such as the Oklahoma City Bombing, Unabomber attacks and the Anthrax scare, the government needed to respond with legislation giving them more power to protect its citizens. That response was The USA Patriot Act. No piece of legislation comes without controversy, and the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA Patriot Act) is no different. Passed just six weeks after the events of September 11th, it met with very little resistance from government officials during the height of the terror scare and anthrax contamination scare. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) was the lone dissenter of the act and claims that many of the senators had not read a summary let alone the fine print of the act. The speediness of the acts passage, coupled with it not going through the proper legislative channels, led many to believe that it was planned by the Bush Administration long before the September 11th attacks. What the average member of society does not know is that the USA Patriot Act is not a standalone law; it amends many previous acts as well as our Bill of Rights. It is here that disapproval of the act arises. In giving government extended powers, were are essentially giving up many of our constitutional rights. It would be close to impossible to touch on every aspect of the USA Patriot Act and the changes it has made, but this paper seeks to explore a few of the changes that led to the infringing upon our civil liberties and constitutional rights.
The USA Patriot Act completely violates the Fourth Amendment which deals with our protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The fourth amendment states that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or...