The Patriot Act
The Patriot Act
The U.S Patriot Act was meant to help fight terrorism after the devastating 9/11 terrorist attack that claimed many American lives. The American Congress adopted the Act to help combat terrorism and help catch terrorists before they carried out any attacks. The U.S Patriot Act is a short form meaning Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Congress passed the act in 2001 and President George W Bush signed and approved the Act. Some of the sections of the Act expired in 2011 and were resigned by President Barrack Obama. In June 2015, three sections of the Act expired, and an extension failed to get the approval of the Congress. The sections were however restored on June 2nd, 2015 when Congress passed the U.S.A Freedom Act. These sections were extended to 2019, and they were; Roving Wire Taps, Search of Business Records for any suspects without any warrants, and surveillance of ‘lone wolves’. However, before the sections were restored, Section 215 was amended to stop the NSA from collecting mass phone data and let the phone companies retain the data and NSA to obtain the data for particular suspects through a request approved by the federal court. This essay argues the pros and cons of the U.S Patriot Act to ascertain whether the Act is more helpful to the public or whether it is harmful and whether it should be in place or whether it should be abolished as most of its critics say.
The Patriot Act has been of immense help to the U.S authorities who have been able to capture 395 terror suspects and put them behind bars with the evidence collected using the surveillance program authorized by the Act. These terror suspects are people who lived among the Americans as individuals with normal lives and could have never been captured without the surveillance program. This arrests, therefore, proves that the Act can help catch people who do not look suspicious but have evil intentions (Ewing 5).
Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and people from South East Asia living in the U.S had enormous problems with Americans especially after the 9/11 attack that claimed many American lives. The Patriot Act recognizes the Arab Americans, Muslim Americans as well as those from the South East Asia and protects them from discrimination by the other Americans in section 102. Most Americans blamed the Asians, Arabs and Muslims for the terrorist attacks even though most of them were innocent and had nothing to do with the attacks. Muslims, who act heroically like the 23-year-old Mohamed Salman Hamdani, a New Yorker of Pakistani descent, went missing after offering to help handle the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The hostility towards the Arabs and the Muslims was at its highest before the Act, but this has dropped due to the regulations in the Act.
The victims terrorist attacks were always not taken care of before the 9/11 attack. The Act established that the victims of any terrorist attack in the U.S were to receive the help of the government both financially and morally. This support means that any family can manage to move forward with the loss or injury of a loved one. If the Act had not been passed most, families would tragically lose their loved ones and suffer on their own without any support of any kind (Etzioni 13).
In section 203, the Act states that agencies may share information about suspects. This means that there is better interagency cooperation put together by the Act, and it may work in helping the organizations unite in capturing terror suspects in future.
The Act established a counterterrorism fund that is separate from any other government fund and this fund was available to any department of justice component or any department of the Federal government for any amount spent detaining any suspects throughout the year without following any fiscal year. This fund helps cover costs incurred when investigating any suspects of terror activities. The fund is also used to pay rewards to persons who bring information about terror suspects.
The act also meant that stronger security controls were guaranteed by the expansion of the N.E.C Taskforce headed by the Director Secret Service. The task force is mandated with the responsibility to investigate, detect and prevent any form of electronic and potential terrorist attacks on vital structures and financial systems. The task force has helped ease the burden of other agencies and has helped avert many terrorist attacks. Therefore, the Act has helped save many lives through the National Electric Crime Task Force (Ewing 14).
The Act helps save time spent investigating suspects and following them as it allows the Federal Agencies like the F.B.I to tap into any suspects’ phone and listen to whatever they are saying and planning. This also eases the field agents’ time as they do not have to worry about being identified by the terrorists as they follow them on the streets. The tapping of phones has helped avert many terror attacks and has been vital to the arrest of the 395 suspects arrested since the Act come into existence.
The Patriot Act, however, does have its disadvantages as pointed out by many of its critics. For instance, the Act states that any illegal immigrant suspected of being on U.S soil with intentions of carrying out any acts of terror can be detained by the F.B.I indefinitely. This section goes against the constitution and human rights as indefinite detention of any human being despite race or color disagrees with his rights.
The Act also runs counter to the right to privacy of any suspect whether American or a foreigner is since it allows illegal F.B.I searches in suspect’s homes, businesses and offices. This section of the Act might be used by F.B.I agents to intimidate and scare innocent civilians as they storm into their houses without any court orders and start searching without the knowledge of the homeowners (Abele 14).
The Congress condemned the discrimination of Muslim and Arab Americans in the Act, and this might be taken by the Arab Americans and the Muslim Americans as a way to manipulate the system and get their way by smuggling more terrorists as well as more explosives. This condemning can lead to worse attacks as well as deaths of innocent civilians. This section should have included Americans of all types and not a just a section of the Americans which may make them feel special (Etzioni 68).
The open interagency sharing may give the agencies a chance to form a massive database of recordings of innocent civilians, and this may mean that everyone would be in the radars of the agencies whether innocent or guilty. These databases may also mean that there would be no more anonymity in the delivery of messages as phone calls, emails as well as small messages are monitored 24 hours a day. This segment of the Bill should not be there as it violates the rights to privacy for all the Americans.
The increased funding of the Technical support center for the F.B.I as well as the expansion of the National Electric Crime task force meant that the taxes would automatically go up to enable the funding of these two tasks. The extra funding is a definite point considering that America suffered a great deal after the attack of 9/11, but the government should have found new means to fight terrorism or cut out budgets from other departments to fund these two departments.
In conclusion, The Patriot Act of 2001 may have its cons but it is an Act that each and every country in the globe should adopt since it has assisted the U.S in combating and avoiding any terror attacks. Ever since the law come into power, more terror suspects have been arrested than in the past showing that the taping and the invasion of privacy as claimed by the critics of the greater good of the whole country. Most of the suspects arrested using the Act could never have been arrested if the act was not active since they lived among other Americans as their neighbors and friends. The Act is one of the major reasons why terror attacks in the U.S slowed down as it put more emphasis on investigating and finding the terrorists before they carried out any attacks (Abele 101).
Abele, Robert P. A User’s Guide to the USA Patriot Act and Beyond. 2005. Washington D.C. American University Press. Print
Etzioni, Amitai. How Patriotic Is the Patriot Act? Freedom versus Security in the Age of Terrorism. 2005. London: Routledge. Print.
Ewing B. Alphonse. The U.S.A Patriotic Act Reader. 2005. New York: Nova Publishers. Print