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USA Patriot Act: Tool Against Terrorism or Loss of Liberty - Research Paper Example

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Immediately following the September 11, 2001 (9-11) terrorist attacks the nation’s focus turned to preventing a similar instance from occurring. The federal government initiated a host of measures to that end, one being the quickly enacted USA PATRIOT Act in October of that year…
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USA Patriot Act: Tool Against Terrorism or Loss of Liberty
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Download file to see previous pages While both the Bush and Obama administrations contend the Act is a vital tool against the war on terror, passes constitutional scrutiny and does not intrude on individual rights, many lawmakers, civil liberty groups and average citizens remain concerned that it violates individual liberties and the right to privacy by making personal intrusions without just cause.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the Act in 2001 then extended its reach last year with the intent of protecting the nation from attacks such as those the world witnessed in horror during 9-11. Without the Act’s indispensible protective measures, its promoters claim, Americans would be far less safe from random terrorist bombings yet, at the same time, preserves all the uniquely Americans liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. If it were unconstitutional, the Supreme Court would have struck it down long ago. To date, no civil action damage claims has been made against the government even though citizens are explicitly allowed to do so by the Act.
For every provision that permits enforced searches or the gathering of evidence an accompanying provision is added that requires a federal judge’s to approve the action. Hundreds of would-be terrorists have been charged and convicted since the Act became law. In addition, several domestic terrorism attempts have been prevented since its enactment. (Wilson, 2012) The PATRIOT Act, as several legal experts claim, may save lives and help protect the homeland but it also violates at least four of the ten amendments found in the Bill of Rights which disqualifies it to be the law of the land. The Act infringes on the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble, rights clearly outlined by the First Amendment; on unreasonable searches and seizures of the Fourth Amendment along with the right to Habeas Corpus, the due process of law found in the Fifth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment furthers the due process clause by adding the right to a “speedy, public and fair trial” along with the entitlement to legal representation and to confront one’s accuser. The decade-long events at Guantanamo Bay military prison is evidence that many Sixth Amendment violations have been violated constantly over the years along with the Eighth Amendment banning cruel and unusual punishment and the 13th Amendment which forbids punishment without first being convicted of a crime. (Sinnar, 2003) Following 9-11 Americans were understandably hyper-sensitive to the subject of terrorism. The topic became a part of the everyday conversation fueled by a media hungry for sensational stories. A frightened citizenry turned a blind-eye to most any action taken by the government if it claimed national security was at stake. Therefore, the Bush administration blatantly did whatever it wanted without consideration of the public’s, congress or constitutional support. The Obama administration that followed continued some of these legally questionable tactics. During the Bush years, due process of law was ignored for anyone accused of terrorism. The government illegally wiretapped telephone calls of citizens, used torture tactics such as water-boarding on ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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