The Usa Patriot Act, a Controversial Public Policy, Julius Taka

Topics: United States Constitution, Terrorism, Federal Bureau of Investigation Pages: 8 (2951 words) Published: December 12, 2010
The USA Patriot Act of 2001 is a controversial public policy, which greatly undermines the civil liberties and constitutional freedom of the American people. This essay will moved from an overview of the USA Patriot Act to a review of the critical literature regarding the importance of the Act to the safety of Americans and shows how the Act violates the civil rights and liberties of citizens and noncitizens alike. After presenting sufficient evidence that the Patriot Act violates many of the basic principles that have been articulated in the U.S. Constitution, particularly within the Bill of Rights, I will, propose recommendations that if implemented scrupulously could help to restore American confidence in government's determination to continue functioning as the protector of civil liberties and rights. In the wake of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history on September 11, 2001, just six weeks later with little Congressional resistance or analysis; the U.S. Congress passed into law the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act titled “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” granted an unprecedented and vast power to federal investigative services, which greatly undermines the civil liberties and constitutional freedom of the American people. The main objective of the Patriot Act is "to deter and punish terrorist acts in the U.S. and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes," (Act, 2001, p. 1). Despite this purpose, the Act represents both good and bad points with respect to fighting terrorism and negative consequences on the civil liberties of U.S. citizens. For the most part, I believe the USA Patriot Act does little to combat terrorism and represents a threat to the liberties of the American people. There is no denying that the hastily passed Patriot Act does have provisions and measures that help the U.S. Government expand its surveillance of suspected terrorists and their activities. For example, Section 101--Establishes a new counter terrorism fund without fiscal year limitation and of unnamed amount, to be administered by the Justice Department for its own use. Section 103--Re-invigorates the Justice Department's "Technical Support Center" (established by the Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996) and gives it $200 million for each of the next three years, 2002 through 2004. Section 105: Establishes a "national network of electronic crimes task forces" to be set up by the Secret Service throughout the country to prevent, detect, and investigate various electronic crimes "including potential terrorist attacks against critical infrastructures and financial payment systems"--which can mean a wide variety of computer crimes. (Michaels & Van Bergen, 2002). Moreover, section 203 of the Act combined forces of domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence, previously separate "collection operations on separate tracks," (Podesta, 2002, p. 2). Furthermore, the Act provides U.S. authorities with expanded powers to freeze suspected terrorist assets in foreign countries and increases their ability to gain access to offshore banking records. The Act amended what is known as the Bank Secrecy Act. The funding of terrorism is a criminal offense and those who fund terrorists are often able to conceal their activities. The Act is good in resolving this issue, as Section 312-319 stipulate as follows: (1) sets a 120-hour deadline for financial institutions to respond to certain information requests by federal investigators involving wide range of accounts; (2) creates new forfeiture provisions for those charged or convicted of certain terrorist crimes especially including money laundering, setting forfeiture authorities virtually unheard of in federal law to this point, and (3) permits access by federal investigators of records of certain "correspondent" accounts with foreign banks. (Michaels &...

References: 1. The Bill of Rights. (1996). Available at
2. FBI oversight hearing prologue to expected report slamming agency. (2003). Available at
3. Michael C.W., & Van Bergen, J. (2002). The USA PATRIOT Act: Part I. Available at
5. Schabner, D. (2003b). Conservative backlash. Available at patriot030312.html
7. Talanian, N. (2002). A guide to provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and federal executive orders that threaten civil liberties. Available online from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee at
8. USA PATRIOT Act. (2001, Oct 24). HR 3162 RDS, 107th Congress (1st Session). Viewed on Aug3,2005:,html
10. Van Bergen, J. (2002). Repeal the Patriot Act. Available at
11. Van Bergen, J. (2002b). Repeal the Patriot Act, Part 2.Available at Patriot.p.htm.
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