Free Patriot Act Research Paper Sample
The Patriot Act is an act of congress that was signed in 2001 to provide law enforcement and national security agencies a platform to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The USA Patriot Act stands for, “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”; it was proposed by the Bush Administration in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The USA Patriot Act consists of ten titles. The ten titles and their significance have been listed below.
(Department of Justice, 2015)
Pros and cons of the Patriot Act
The following list contains the pros of the Patriot Act.
Increased surveillance and effective countermeasures
The Patriot Act has provided law enforcement with comprehensive surveillance coverage and the ability to share intelligence across agencies. This enhances the possibility of taking actions quickly and effectively against imminent threats against the United States.
Enhanced processing of terror cases
The Patriot Act has provided a platform to expedite cases against terror suspects and close them with relative pace. This also proves as a deterrent for anyone who is considering a terror plot since it increases the chances of getting caught significantly.
Restitution for terror victims
When 9/11 took us by surprise, it also wiped out the bread winning members of several families; the attacks also took out several business establishments. At this juncture, there was no provision in the constitution to compensate terror victims in the United States. The Patriot Act provides effective and constructive compensation that allows both individual citizens and business houses to recover from financial loses that they incurred.
(Abramson and Godoy, 2006)
The following are the list of cons that are attributed to the Patriot Act.
Lack of accountability
There is a deep lack of accountability relating to the Patriot Act. It has given government agencies too much power and most of the time this power is misused. The FBI alone has issued faulty National Security Letters by the thousands. Several of these were used to solve other crimes such as drug smuggling (Lichtblau, 2003). The lack of safeguards and the lack of an overseeing body such as courts, these powerful authorities bestowed upon government agencies are already being misused (Napolitano, 2013).
Undue harassment of innocent civilians
A terror suspect, when leading a double life comes into contact with several individuals. All his contacts might not be aware of his dastardly designs. This group of innocent contacts could include colleagues, friends, neighbors, subway buddies, store attendants or even hospital workers. The indiscriminate detention of these individuals based only on their association with the suspect or belonging to a certain religion is unconstitutional. The lack of facility to obtain legal services or inform anyone about their whereabouts while they are questioned only adds to the turmoil faced by the innocent.
Intrusion on privacy
The United States once prided with protecting the privacy of its citizens finds itself in a mess at the advent of the Patriot Act. The citizens of the United States no longer have any privacy. All their private conversations, photos, data on their computers and even their habitual movements are recorded by government agencies. There is no form of communication where U.S. citizens can enjoy privacy anymore. Apart from that the NSA collects data on all visitor to Las Vegas (Dunham, 2005).
The success rate of the act in effecting crime
The success of the Patriot Act is rather obvious to the world. Despite its criticisms, there have been no major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil whereas European nations were not so fortunate. This anti-terrorism Act has provided the desired results. However, the Boston Marathon Bombing was a reminder that although the intensity was lower, despite the best efforts, terror does manage to slip through the cracks. The NSA has credited the Patriot Act for at least fifty terror plots since 9/11 that were thwarted.
Surveillance of all digital communication mediums
Domestic surveillance is a controversial policy undertaken by the NSA and CIA to keep tabs on possible terrorist threats. The intensity and intrusive nature of this policy extends to all American citizens; not just terror suspects. Although there are a lot of questions raised as and when a telecom employee blows a whistle, domestic surveillance has been an integral part of FBI, NSA and CIA’s web of scrutiny (CFR, 2013).
Initially, only international communications were scrutinized for word patterns and codes that interpret the presence of terrorist activity. However, nowadays all communications are watched. In fact, there is enough data to confirm that all transactions conducted through the internet, telecommunication fiber-optic lines and short wave frequencies are all monitored. There is almost no comment expressed that can be determined to be private irrespective of the mode in which it was communicated (Hadley, 2013).
In addition, drones were used to monitor the movements of people. The FBI recently admitted that these drones were used to monitor U.S. citizens on American soil. There are no limits in technology for these surveillance programs and the extents of reach these probes have are frightening. Imagine what would be the case if the “Truman Show” became a reality for all of us; that are the reality we face today from the onslaught of domestic spying undertaken by federal agencies. Unlike, in the movie where Truman walks away from his monitored world, we do not have that option (Lerner, 2014).
We are trapped by drones (Roberts, 2013), spyware, signal splitters, virtual bugs, hidden cameras, traffic cameras and much more. In addition, information such as credit cards, bank accounts, purchases, memberships, phone gallery data, browsing data, personal messages and our lifestyles are all watched (Cavoukian, 2013).
Why the Patriot Act might be doing more harm than good for the United States?
Domestic surveillance allowed by the Patriot Act has cost America a lot more than was bargained in running covert operations against law abiding citizens. Our technology companies have suffered huge losses and any company that has links with the federal structure is ignored by foreign trade that usually preferred U.S. made products. We are losing trillions of dollars worth in business deals to European companies (Ritz, 2015).
There are countries like Pakistan and Malaysia who now shop for fighter aircraft from China or even Russia. These countries traditionally purchased billions of dollars worth of military hardware from the U.S. prior to the leaks on stories about domestic spying. The most recent deals that were struck down with U.S. companies include Verizon that had a lucrative contract with the German government that cancelled the contract specifically mentioning the NSA. Boeing also lost a huge contract in Brazil over fears of NSA prying.
Business houses have been recording losses in the range of $20 billion to $35 billion dollars annually. This income is usually sourced from international clients however; most of the regular clientele are reluctant to engage in any high-end business propositions with any American company due to the apprehension of being spied on by the NSA and FBI.
There is an actual need to moderate the surveillance and exempt certain forms of intrusive practices. It not only affects security of civilians over private information, it also destroys the economic progress made in recent years. Although moderation could play spoilsport in preventing terrorist plots, all this surveillance haven’t entirely eradicated the problem either. The Boston Marathon attack was a testament to that. There will always be attacks by terrorists and despite our best efforts we cannot guarantee a safe haven. What we should guarantee is safeguards against false detention, imprisonment and the curbing of freedom of speech for law abiding citizens who make their tax payments to help the government run these surveillance programs. The government should ensure that we do not become real life specimens of a government produced “Truman Show”.
Napolitano, Andrew P. (2013). When the government demands silence -- the ugliness of the Patriot Act. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/03/21/when-government-demands-silence-ugliness-patriot-act/
Lichtblau, Eric (2003). U.S. Uses Terror Law to Pursue Crimes from Drugs to Swindling. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/28/politics/28LEGA.html?ex=1183608000&en=0613941aeb6560d1&ei=5070
Abramson, Larry and Godoy, Maria (2006). The Patriot Act: Key Controversies. Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactprovisions.html
Dunham, Richard S. (2005). The Patriot Act: Business Balks. Retrieved from: http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/stories/2005-11-09/the-patriot-act-business-balks
Solomon, John (2007). FBI Finds It Frequently Overstepped in Collecting Data. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/06/13/AR2007061302453.html
CFR Newsteam Staff (2013). U.S. Domestic Surveillance. Retrieved from: http://www.cfr.org/intelligence/us-domestic-surveillance/p9763
Lerner, Mark (2014). The Chilling Effect of Domestic Spying. Retrieved from: http://americanpolicy.org/2014/08/05/the-chilling-effect-of-domestic-spying/
Hadley, David P. (2013). America's "Big Brother": A Century of U.S. Domestic Surveillance. Retrieved from: http://origins.osu.edu/article/americas-big-brother-century-us-domestic-surveillance
Roberts, Dan (2013). FBI admits to using surveillance drones over US soil. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/19/fbi-drones-domestic-surveillance
Cavoukian, Ann (2013). Surveillance, Then and Now: Securing Privacy in Public Spaces. Information and Privacy press. Ontario: Canada.
Ritz, Erica (2015). Are America’s Domestic Surveillance Programs a ‘Very Expensive Insurance Policy’? Retrieved from: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/02/19/are-americas-domestic-surveillance-programs-a-very-expensive-insurance-policy/
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