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The Patriot Act

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The Patriot Act
The Patriot Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001 by President George Bush. USA Patriot Act is actually an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Since it has passed, it has been one of the leading roles in preventing many terrorist attacks that are planned to hurt innocent civilians. Its goals were to strengthen the power of law-enforcement agencies and the domestic securities. Not only was it extremely controversial when it was renewed by President Barack Obama, but it also had a lot of hate when it was originally passed following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. There are ten total parts, or titles, in the patriot act and each one covers a different part of growing the security in America in hopes of stopping terrorism. These titles touch on everything from anti-terrorism funding to the ability to wiretap the phone of any suspected terrorist without getting a warrant first. This has brought up many controversial discussions on whether it gives the government too much power and whether it goes against our constitutional rights. This paper will discuss the contents of The Patriot Act and whether or not it should have been signed into law. Title I has to do mostly with the funding of the anti-terrorism programs in the United States. Not only does this money go to preventing terrorism, but it also goes towards helping to rebuild after a terrorist attack. Title II broadens the surveillance allowed to be done by law enforcement on suspected terrorists. It also allows delayed notification of search warrants which is when a house can be searched without letting the person know until after the search is complete.
Title III is meant to prevent money laundering and other ways of financially helping terrorist groups. Title IV strengthens border patrol and does not allow foreigners associated to terrorist groups into the United States. Title V allows the use of National Security Letters (NSL). An NSL is given when the law enforcement agency wants the release of all known info on the person under investigation. No judicial review or probable cause is needed for an NSL. Title VI compensates victims of terrorism. Title VII authorizes increased sharing of information between different law enforcements. Title VIII adds many crimes to the category of terrorism such as a biological weapon and increases the penalties. Title IX creates a method for sharing all of the info. Finally, Title X includes miscellaneous and minor provisions that did not fit into the other titles.
Ever since this act was passed, the views on it have been divided. A survey was put together by the Pew Research Center and it shows that as of February 2011, 42% see this act as a necessary tool that helps prevent and stop terrorism, 34% think it goes against our civil liberties and 23% are unsure or have no opinion. The Democrats have more of a positive view on it whereas Republicans are against it. There are many arguments supporting both the positive and negative sides of this act. The pros and cons are very equal and by that I mean that there are not really more of one.
The patriot act got rid of many road blocks that were in the way of law enforcement that retarded surveillance on suspected terrorist. Prior to this act, a court order would need to be obtained in order to set up surveillance on an individual. This court order was only good for one location. For example, if the court order was for the suspect’s house and then they left the house for another location, a new court order would need to be obtained. The process of obtaining a court order took many days and sometimes even many weeks. This was one of the biggest road blocks that law enforcement faced.
Title II allows roving surveillance which gives the rights to surveillance no matter where the suspect goes under just one court order. This act also improved the technology used in the interception of telecommunications, or wiretapping. Before this update in technology, it was easier to detect if you had been wiretapped. If the suspect discovered this, it would give them a chance to flee and avoid jail. Now that it is harder to detect wiretapping, suspected terrorists won’t run as quick if they aren’t aware of their discovery.
A good example of the patriot act at work is the Boston Marathon Bombing that happened in 2013. The head of the NSA stated in an interview that section 215 of the Patriot Act was used to look at phone call data (duration, numbers, times, etc.) to help solve this terrorist attack. Section 215 is the access to records and other items under the foreign intelligence surveillance act. Phone records were also used in determining that there were no threats against the United States when there was the suspected targeting of U.S Embassies in the summer of 2013.
Just like anything passed into law, The Patriot Act has also seen some hate by many American citizens. Many view that is invades their privacy and goes against their civil liberties. The government is basically given full say on who it wants to conduct surveillance and all they have to do is say that the person was suspected of terrorist actions. Eric Snowden revealed a lot of things in 2013 that showed just how much power our government has. For example, he showed us that a secret government program called PRISM collects foreign communication data from nine of the leading internet companies. This list includes Microsoft, Google, YouTube, and Facebook, just to name a few. To summarize the cons of the Patriot act, the government basically has full access to anything you do on a phone, computer, or any records like your bank accounts and library history. The Patriot Act can be taken either way and comes down to preference on whether or not a certain person is fond of it or not. It just goes to show the great power the government of the United States has over its citizens.

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