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The Patriot Act, Right or Wrong?

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The Patriot Act, Right or Wrong?

Although the government has our best interest at heart by implementing the PATRIOT Act, it just doesn't seem like the right thing to do. I believe the PATRIOT Act should be changed because it is unfair to the citizens of the U.S. The PATRIOT ACT is unconstitutional, it violates the people's rights. The issue with the patriot act is whether we as citizens should have to surrender our civil liberties to improve national security. The PATRIOT Act does have its pros and helps to protect us, but in doing so the government has also bended the rules against us. For example, at any time the government can search telephone records, listen in on phone calls, search our e-mail communications, medical records financial records and even other things such as a home or business. And they can do this all of this without permission or our knowledge. Its an invasion of privacy, and I don't believe this is the best solution.

Historical Background

The PATRIOT Act was signed by George W. Bush. It was put into place to stop terrorism. One of the main reasons for implementing the PATRIOT Act is because of what occurred on September 11, 2001 when terrorist attacked New York City and caused the destruction of the World Trade Center. IN response, President George W. Bush declared a war on terrorism. Soon after that, senators from both sides of politics began working on a way to increase the power of law enforcement and to be able to investigate terrorism in America. They came up with the PATRIOT Act. The purpose of the PATRIOT Act is to catch terrorist acts before they happen in the United States and around the world. It enhances law enforcement tools and strengthens the U.S.'s ability to prevent, detect and prosecute doers of terrorism.

Reason 1

At any time the government can search telephone records, listen in on phone calls, search our e-mail communications, medical records financial records and even other things such as a home or business. Sections 203(b) and 203(d) of the Patriot Act are at the heart of the effort to break down the "wall" that used to separate criminal and intelligence investigations. The Justice Department has frequently blamed the wall for the failure to find and detain Sept. 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar prior to the attacks. CIA agents had information that both men were in the United States and were suspected terrorists, but the FBI says it did not receive that information until August 2001.U.S. officials also blame the wall for the failure to fully investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, who has since pleaded guilty in connection with the Sept. 11 plot. The government says that existing procedures made investigators afraid of sharing information between the intelligence and criminal sides of the probe. Supporters say these provisions have greatly enhanced information sharing within the FBI, and with the intelligence community at large. Civil libertarians say the failure to share information was largely a result of incompetence and misunderstanding of the law. They say investigators were always allowed to share grand jury information, which is specifically authorized by this section. They warn that the scope of the Patriot Act language is far too broad and encourages unlimited sharing of information, regardless of the need. Critics say that investigators should have to explain why information is being shared, and that only information related to terrorism or espionage should be released. They warn that unrestricted sharing could lead to the development of massive databases about innocent citizens. (Godoy, Larry Abramson and Maria. Npr: The Patriot Act: Key Controversies April 11, 2011) This unrestricted sharing could lead to the development of massive databases about citizens who are not the targets of criminal investigations.

The Justice Department has long complained about restrictions that required separate court authorizations for each device used by the target of an investigation, whether it's a computer terminal, a cell phone or a Blackberry. This provision of the Patriot Act specifically allows "roving wiretaps" against suspected spies and terrorists. The government says it has long had this type of flexibility in criminal cases, and that such authority is needed in dealing with technologically sophisticated terrorists. Surveillance experts point out, however, that criminal wiretaps must "ascertain" whether the person under investigation is going to be using the device before the tap takes place. Civil liberties groups say the language of the Patriot Act could lead to privacy violations of anyone who comes into casual contact with the suspect. They want Congress to require investigators to specify just which device is going to be tapped, or that the suspect is clearly identified, in order to protect the innocent from unwarranted snooping. . (Godoy, Larry Abramson and Maria. Npr: The Patriot Act: Key Controversies April 11, 2011) The language of the act could lead to privacy violations of anyone who comes into casual contact with a suspect.

Access to Records Probably the most hotly debated provision of the law, Section 215 has come to be known as the "libraries provision," even though it never mentions libraries or bookstores. Civil liberties groups attack the breadth of this section -- which allows investigators to obtain "any tangible thing (including books, records, papers, documents and other items)," as long as the records are sought "in connection with" a terror investigation. Library groups said the law could be used to demand the reading records of patrons. But the government points out that

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