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Patriot Act: Helping or Hurting the United States ABSTRACT Despite the guarantees provided by the Constitution that each individual freedom is protected, there are still instances where individual rights were bypassed. Authorities should give all societal players with an equal and viable opportunity to articulate their concerns in a sustainable manner and the value of their inputs should not be predicated on their economic power. The capability of the state to lessen the outcome of the paradox of democracy would come from increased social empowerment. This paper argues against the continued existence of The Patriot Act, on grounds of it being a threat to American civil liberties. For example, its website, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has declared war on the Bush government, saying that the NSA wiretapping mess is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. It states there that any person has the right to feel safe and secure in his own home, or office, and this includes preclusion against any unwarranted searches and other forms of invasion of privacy.
This revelation has an immense impact on civil liberties. This organization has stated that the Bush administration is out to destroy the sacred wall that separates the executive and legislative branches of government as well as all the checks and balances that have been put in place in them. The President has become a usurper of power, no longer wanting to go to Congress and the Senate to ask for support for whatever directives he deems best. It would seem that it was as if Mr. Bush no longer wants to take time out to defend himself in front of the two bodies of lawmakers. The ACLU considers a violation of the Fourth Amendment as a great offense against the American people.
As America was built on a foundation of democracy which involves trust, with his admission that he authorized such wiretaps, the union feels that he has breached the trust and confidence of the American people. It is for this reason that the ACLU has violently protested against this matter. II. Key Controversial Provisions of The Patriot Act The Patriot Act, said to have been passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks, is an act to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement regulatory tools, and for other purposes (107 th Congress 1).
The act is said to grant greater powers to federal officials in tracing and intercepting the communication of terrorists for the purposes of foreign intelligence and law enforcement, (Doyle 2) The following provisions of The Patriot Act as the most controversial are: the provisions on information sharing, which allows information from criminal probes to be shared with intelligence agencies and other parts of government; roving wiretaps, which allows for one wiretap authorization to cover multiple devices, eliminating the need for separate court authorizations; access to records, which allows for easier access to business records in foreign intelligence investigations; foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches, which is said to lower the bar for launching foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches; sneak and peak warrants, which is said to allow authorities to search homes and businesses without immediately notifying the target of a probe, and the material support provision, which expands the existing ban on giving material support to terrorists to include expert advice or assistance (Abramson and Godoy). Meanwhile, related to the civil rights of people, there are oppositions regarding President Bush's nomination of General Michael V. Hayden because of his involvement with the warrantless program to spy on Americans. The American Civil Liberties Union are keen on Hayden's credibility prompting Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director to say, "The appointment of General Hayden issue latest example of President Bush giving promotions those who have led the greatest attacks on our Constitution and fundamental freedoms. This administration continues to demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect for the rule of law and our core civil liberties and civil rights.
We hope that the Senate will use this opportunity to break through the administration's stonewalling about the illegal program to spy on Americans without any check. Lawmakers and the American people have a right to know how many people have had their private conversations monitored. (Hayden Nomination Raises Serious Civil Liberties Concerns). ACLU has time and time again has expressed its concern over the continued secrecy of the use of Patriot Act powers. Everyone is concerned over the abuses by department personnel in a broad range of areas including mishandling of federal prisoners and protesters and the misuse of surveillance powers. (Justice Department Issues Review of Civil Liberties Abuses). Many think that those who oversee the nations intelligence agencies must have the highest respect for the Constitution. And Hayden is regarded as a violator of this (Hayden Nomination Raises Serious Civil Liberties Concerns).
Democrats will do the bidding of their labor masters, Republicans will fight for a better opportunity for all Californians. (The Republican Party Victory 06 Team). The NPR lists the following provisions of The Patriot Act as the most controversial: the provisions on information sharing, which allows information from criminal probes to be shared with intelligence agencies and other parts of government; roving wiretaps, which allows for one wiretap authorization to cover multiple devices, eliminating the need for separate court authorizations; access to records, which allows for easier access to business records in foreign intelligence investigations; foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches, which is said to lower the bar for launching foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches; sneak and peak warrants, which is said to allow authorities to search homes and businesses without immediately notifying the target of a probe, and the material support provision, which expands the existing ban on giving material support to terrorists to include expert advice or assistance (Abramson and Godoy). III. Arguments in Favor of the Act President George W. Bush unreservedly endorses the continued existence of the Patriot Act for national security reasons: The Patriot Act is essential to protecting the American people against the terrorists. The Act tore down the wall between law enforcement and intelligence officials so that they can share information and work together to help prevent attacks.
The Patriot Act has helped us to disrupt terrorist plots and break up cells here in the United States. I will work closely with the House and Senate to make sure that we are not without this crucial law for even a day (Preserving Life and Liberty). On a similar note, the US Department of Justice opines that if the US Patriot Act is allowed to expire, the US will revert to the mode of information sharing prior to the 9 / 11 attacks, characterized by the lack of clear rules for information sharing among government investigators, terrorists and spies able to use technologies against the authorities, and a situation where it is more difficult to investigate a potential terrorist attack than it is to catch a drug dealer, a mobster, or a white collar criminal (Department of Justice). A third set of arguments for the act come from the Attorney General, who basically say that the act has been successful in preventing terrorism in many ways, and that concerns on civil rights abuses are unfounded because no civil rights abuses emanating from the act have been verified (Gonzales). IV. Opposing Arguments The American Civil Liberties Union warns that the Patriot Act, together with the actions of government under the act, threaten civil liberties in various ways.
One, the act is said to include domestic terrorism in the expanded scope of terrorism laws, thus subjecting political organizations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for political advocacy (1). The act is also said to expand federal ability to conduct private searches with minimal judicial oversight, allows FBI agents to investigate citizens for criminal matters without probable cause of crime done under the guise of intelligence purposes, is said to allow for the jailing of non-citizens and their being refused re-entry on mere suspicion for engaging in free speech. It also allows for the indefinite detention of suspects without meaningful judicial review (American Civil Liberties Union 1). As a threat to civil liberties, the Patriot Act is said to be a threat to the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments (American Civil Liberties Union 1).
The Center for Democracy & Technology, on the other hand, lists nine things that are wrong with The Patriot Act (2). These are the lack of federal accountability for acts performed under the Act, the broadened sneak and peak search powers of government, the nearly unlimited powers given to federal agents to search business records, a too-broad definition of terrorism, the monitoring of computer trespassers without court orders, the allowing of secret investigations, the allowing of federal monitoring of email and web surfing, expansive roving wiretap authority, the allowance for the use of FISA standards that is said to effectively allow the FBI to collect evidence for criminal cases under lower standards (Center for Democracy & Technology 2). V. Plan for Ethical Standards Men made laws in order that they may be followed. In the website of Ars Technica, it is stated that any act of the government must not erode nor degrade the civil liberties of its citizens. It must not degrade its own accountability to the people.
However, with the war on terrorism that the country is currently waging, wiretapping may be allowed. The implementation of wiretapping activities ought to be incorporated in a War Plan against terrorism, and this must be made into law to give it a sense of legitimacy. As to the plan for ethical standards for a newspaper, it still must follow what is in accordance with the Universal Laws of Justice and Self-Rights. If the news article that is to be published will be for the greater good of man, then it ought to be published. Such news articles will hopefully help in mans education, as he will now discern for himself whether wiretapping is needed truly to fight the terrorists working on the mainland, or whether Mr. Bush has usurped his executive powers in this first place.
Thereafter, this Ethics Code ought to be published in regular printing houses, and the copies should be made available to all, especially to those who are connected with the journalism world -- the students, the newspaper publishers, and even the ordinary man on the street. As one look closely at the issue of terrorism, one sees its extreme and radical way of influencing policies of any governments to achieve a democratic or totalitarian objective by perpetrators. It may take place in democratic, communists or rogue states driven by ideology, political or religious agendas. (Wikipedia). The world today is seeking answers to questions about terrorism and its ethical standards, if any. One end of the issue claims that there need not be any justification for actions when...
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Research essay sample on Civil Liberties Union American Civil Liberties