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The Patriot Act: Security vs. Civil Liberties - Research Paper Example

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This research is being carried out to examine and present different aspects of the Patriot Act, and weigh the value of increased security vs. civil liberties. The present research has identified that the Patriot Act was passed into law on October 26, 2001…
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The Patriot Act: Security vs. Civil Liberties
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Download file to see previous pages The researcher states that after the tragedy of 9/11, a consensus in Congress was reached very quickly that new laws needed to be enacted in order to protect our country. Russ Feingold was the only Senator to oppose the act. He was concerned with the potential scapegoating of immigrants of Middle Eastern descent. The Patriot Act added amendments to the Wiretap Statute (Title 3), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Pen Register and Trap and Trace Statute, Money Laundering Act and others.  Title 3 is subject to fourth amendment restrictions on search and seizure. However, the Patriot Act uses a 1977 US Supreme Court ruling that says there is “no constitutionally recognized privacy interest in the telephone numbers intercepted by a pen register or trap and trace device”. A trap and trace device means caller ID. The language referred to the technology of 1977, which was constituted by land-lines and telephones. The wording in Section 216 of the Patriot Act redefines a pen register and a trap and trace device to include “the Internet,…e-mail,…and all other forms of electronic communications”. It also constitutes an invasion of privacy for citizens. Surveillance orders, “Sneak and Peek” The Patriot Act changed the rules for search warrants. Previously, a court could only order a wiretap or pen register/trap trace device within the geographic borders of its own jurisdiction. Now a court can order a surveillance device anywhere in the US. A service provider in a distant location will find it difficult to appear in court to discuss this issue. Sneak and Peek refers to this: before the Patriot Act, law enforcement needed to provide a suspect with notice, right then and there, that they were going to search the suspect’s home. Now, law enforcement can enter a suspect’s home and do a search without notifying him right away, if the court “finds reasonable cause…that notification of the warrant may have an adverse effect”. This will help law enforcement but goes against the 4th amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure (US Constitution). Preventing Surprise Attacks Posner studies the 9/11 report in his book Preventing Surprise Attacks. He concludes that the report blamed the attacks on “systematic failure of the nation’s intelligence and security apparatus”. He posits that it is inevitable “that some surprise attacks may succeed”. He characterizes the Patriot Act as removing what he calls “artificial” blocks to the sharing of intelligence information between agencies. ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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