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Research Paper on the Patriot Act

Research Paper on the Patriot Act

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Published by julialt2247
A research paper on the Patriot Act written in 2006 examining what it means for liberty and security in the US.
A research paper on the Patriot Act written in 2006 examining what it means for liberty and security in the US.

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Published by: julialt2247 on Aug 18, 2009
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Julia TeitelbaumPeriod 7 English4/23/07Research Paper: The Patriot Act and Civil LibertiesThe Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required toIntercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, more commonly known as the USA PATRIOT Act, or simply the Patriot Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001, 45 days after the terrorist attackson September 11
. At the signing of the Patriot Act in 2001, President George W. Bush said thatthe act would provide “important new tools to fight a present danger” (Gerdes). Since then, thePatriot Act and the “important new tools” it authorizes have been subjects of intense controversy.The debate over what the Patriot Act actually allows law enforcement officials to do, however,centers on the balance of national security and protection of civil liberties in legislation.In the United States, civil liberties are the rights individuals have that are free frominterference from the government or others; they include the rights listed in the Bill of Rights aswell as those protected by state or local laws (Boaz). Also, the Ninth Article of The Bill of Rightsstates that “the enumeration…of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage othersretained by the people”, so rights concerning privacy and “others retained by the people” can beincluded under the label of civil liberties. In the past, civil liberties have been challenged andsuspended in times of war. The Patriot Act contains provisions that bring up the issue of civilliberties during wartime. Critics call the Patriot Act “unwarranted and intrusive” (“Reform thePatriot Act”). Still, on March 9, 2006, President Bush restated, “The Patriot Act is vital to the war on terror and defending our citizens against a ruthless enemy” (“Preserving Life and Liberty”).While the government calls changes to criminal procedure in the Patriot Act modest, civillibertarians believe the changes erode individual rights. Such changes include procedures for detention and deportation. The Patriot Act gives the Attorney General the power to detain
suspected terrorists for up to seven days, within which the Attorney General must begin proceedings to deport, prosecute, or release the subject. In addition, under certain circumstances,detention periods of six-month increments are permitted if releasing the subject will threatennational security or cause harm to the community (Jenks). Civil libertarians feel such detentionwithout trial violates the principles of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution providing that“no person… [shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” andinfringes upon immigrants’ rights. Defenders of the provision believe that it provides necessaryauthority to detain possible terrorists before they cause harm. Also, Section 411 of the Patriot Actallows for broader exclusion of immigrants based on their connections with terroristorganizations. (Jenks). The provision excludes any alien determined by the Attorney General andthe Secretary of State to have been associated with a terrorist organization and intending tocommit terrorist acts in the United States, as well as their spouses and children (“The USAPATRIOT Act: Preserving Life and Liberty”). Civil libertarians feel that the provision wouldallow for discrimination and exclusion of immigrants based on their ideologies. However,defenders of the act feel that the admission of the terrorists responsible for the attacks onSeptember 11
was evidence that U.S. immigration policy needed to be reformed (Gerdes).The provisions allowing increased surveillance within the United States are at theforefront of many disputes over the Patriot Act (Lewis). Section 213 of the Patriot Act allows for delayed notice of the execution of a warrant, otherwise known as “sneak and peek” warrants. Onits website, the ACLU claimed, “[Section 213] expands the government’s ability to search private property without notice to the owner.” Defenders of the section believe that therequirement of a court order and proof of reasonable cause for the delay are sufficient precautions against abuse (“The USA PATRIOT Act: Myth vs. Reality”). Both critics and
defenders cite that “sneak and peek” warrants have existed for years; defenders citing it as a precedent and critics claiming that previous legislation allowing for such warrants was adequateand the provision was unnecessary (Gerdes). In addition, the Patriot Act authorizes the use of “roving” wiretaps, additional surveillance of technology such as voice mail and e-mail, more useof pen registers and trap and trace devices, and demands for educational and business records(including library records). The Department of Justice justifies that such measures have beenused “for years” in criminal investigations. However, critics such as the ACLU say the secrecysurrounding the use of such tools and lower standards for attaining the authority to use them“represents a broad expansion of power without building in a necessary privacy protection”(“The USA PATRIOT Act: Myth vs. Reality”).Another highly controversial provision of the Patriot Act allows for expanded use of  National Security Letters (NSLs). The letters demand the records of individuals from anorganization without judicial review (only a signature from the Attorney General or a person towhom he has delegated the power to sign NSLs), have an automatic gag order, and have specific penalties for non-cooperation or unauthorized disclosure. NSLs existed prior to the Patriot Act, but did not have a penalty for non-compliance and were not widely used; in 2000, prior to thePatriot Act, the FBI issued approximately 8500 NSLs, between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued143,074 (Fine). In a report on March 9, 2007, the Inspector General of the Justice Departmentcited multiple abuses of the NSL authority by the FBI and inaccuracies in keeping records of itsuse. In addition, only one NSL was proven to have led to a terrorism investigation. The report’srevelations only added to the controversy over NSLs, but the government says they “streamline”the information attaining process and that speeding up that process reduces the possibility of a

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