The USA Patriot Act
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Arising from the September 11 attacks on the world trade center and the 2001 anthrax attacks, the USA congress felt there were significant loopholes as far as the national security was concerned and thus rushed to pass various legislations so as to strengthen the united states national security. The US patriot act was therefore passed which allowed for the various security organ officers ton search homes or business enterprises of any suspect without the owner’s consent.
The act also allows for the various security authorities right to indefinite detention of any immigrant they feel might pose a significant threat to the national security. Furthermore, the patriot act guarantees right to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, to search telephone conversations, email texts and library as well as financial records of any individual without the owners’ consent. In a nut shell, the patriot act is specifically designed to allow for data encryption and data storage and the various ways through which such data can be used as a threat to the us national security.
The act is facing an impending expiration and possible extension when most of the citizens do not actually know what the law says, what the intent was, and how it is actually being applied.
The US government developed immense concern on its national security especially after the several attacks in the year 2001 in which the country saw the world trade center come bombed down at the hands of the Al-Qaeda terror group as well as the anthrax attack on US citizens. The various United States security organs felt there was significant evidence to point out that there was leakage of sensitive and crucial security information to the potential enemies of the country such as the Al-Qaeda terror group.
For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, felt that the precision with which the simultaneous attacks were executed on the World Trade Center and the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania simultaneously could not be possible without such inside coordination; somebody must have leaked the US intelligence information. In this regard, the US congress as well as the senate had to pass various legislations to strengthen the security controls of the country through subsequent empowering of the various security organs.
The US patriot act was passed and enacted as a security act whose intention was to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, sufficient powers to ensure that no sensitive information regarding the United States securities could leave the country without the consent of relevant security organs. The act was also enacted to ensure controlled access to sensitive information regarding the United States national security.
For instance, the intelligence information revealed that some individuals, who posed as legal immigrants were actually spies and informants of the terror groups, who were actually on mission to gather sufficient information and sent to such groups with intentions of destabilizing peace and national security in the US. As a result therefore, the security organs were empowered to by-pass the constitutional provisions of privy and search any communications made by such immigrants on various forums to ensure that they do not divulge such vital information.
Body of the Paper
The US Patriot Act
The patriot act was overwhelmingly passed by the US senate on October 25, 2001by 98 to 1, a vote that actually showed how much the amendments on the national security bill were inevitable. The act has been in place for thirteen years now and faces an impending expiration. However, there is sufficient chance that the act may be extended to continuously strengthen the United States security. The core objectives, according to the developers and implementers of the act were to foster national security through security data control by way of data encryption and data storage. Nevertheless, a number of US citizens do not clearly comprehend what the act is and its provisions.
Subsequently, a large section of citizens do not understand the intent of the act as well as its applications in reinforcement of national security. On various occasions the law act has been cited as against the US constitution and therefore its continued implementation is unconstitutional. Worse off, in certain instances, the act has been abused and thus implemented in a manner which can be interpreted as misuse of the same act against the US public.
The US patriot act was enacted to encourage patriotism and thus collective efforts to counter terrorism. Section VII and IX of the act were majorly intended to reinforce national security through increased information sharing for critical infrastructure protection as well as improve intelligence services. These two sections of the act are therefore intended to enforce data encryption and storage in a mode inaccessible to any person with ill motives against the national security. Regarding data encryption, the act provides that all information regarding national security of the US be transmitted and stored in a form that can only be interpreted by the relevant involved authorities and personnel.
For instance, the US felt that the use of universal alpha tonics were interpretable by virtually everyone and in order to guarantee secure transmission of national security information, there ought to be an encrypted version that could only be interpreted by the US security personnel and citizens. Since the civilians pose vital information regarding national security, the act also provided that such information received from civilians is encoded to prevent any possible victimization.
Consequently, since the public was involved, it was vital that measures be put in place to ensure that no individual with such information could encode and transmit it to any unauthorized sources outside the US. Hence , the FBI in particular, alongside other national security intelligence services were empowered by the act to access individual private communication be it through phone calls or mail to ascertain that indeed no such information was being leaked to the enemy.
Implementation of the US Patriot Act
The US patriot act has been continuously implemented by various security organs in a number of ways. To start with, the US patriot act of 2001 has been used by the US justice department as a regulatory process through which radical changes have been successfully effected in the US immigration policies. This has seen a significant number of illegal immigrants picked up and held in custody. The strict laws against illegal immigrants have been largely lauded as a positive move towards fighting terrorism against the US.
The act has also seen radical changes in which immigrants held in custody for acts related to terrorism tried in military tribunals which subsequently do not have many constitutional protections rather than the US civilian courts.
The US patriot act of 2001 has not only been used to fight and control terrorism as earlier on intended but has rather gone ahead to be implemented in all federal investigation processes. For instance, the subsequent empowering of the federal investigators has greatly been used to hijack various transactions involving trafficking of cocaine and other illegal drugs from the Mexican coast into America.
The intelligence services has successfully obtained sensitive information regarding such deals from wiretaps as well as grand jury investigations and thereby being prime positioned to ambush and hijack such deals before they eventually materialize. The Fourth Amendment rights [footnoteRef:1] of the US patriot act of 2001 has often been referred to as “Sneak and peak” as it allows for the various government security agencies to secretly carry out searches on personal property and premises without informing the subject and therefore makes it virtually hard for one to assert his or her due process. the major implementation advantage of this provision is that it makes it extremely easy to compel individuals to provide information as required by the agencies. Similarly, the national security organs have extended powers to maintain vigilance on internet usage.
Abuse of the US Patriot Act
On a number of instances, the US patriot act has been cited as infringing on the constitutional provisions of the Americans. Subsequently, its legality has been challenged in courts of law but the Obama regime his since held onto it arguing that it is the best approach to fighting financial aids to the terror and other militia groups broad as well as depriving them of vital information they might require to launch terrorist attacks.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations which is the lead organ in the implementation of the act alongside other national security organs have since found the law as an avenue to continuously enrich themselves by soliciting for bribes from civilians while threatening to arrest and detain them. These security organ agents often harass innocent people, infringe on their privacy by forcefully carrying out unwarranted searches in individual bank accounts, email accounts, homes and even business premises on account that they suspect such individuals of involvement in terror.
Even when there could be no any substantial evidence linking the individual to terror, the security agents will arrest and loch down the individuals threatening to detain them only to let them go when they bribe their way out. A number of US residents, especially immigrants have fallen to this trap of greed security agents.
On March 20–21, 2002, citing the provision of the Patriot Act, The Federal Bureau of Investigation agents alongside US customs officers ravaged Muslim homes, schools, business and even organizations in Northern Virginia, US in series of raids which were later referred to as Operation Green Quest. While Operation Green Guest was carried out to identify criminals within Northern Virginia, a number of Muslim residents were equally frightened and angered by the manner in which Operation Green Guest was carried out.
This was a total abuse of the provisions of the act by the security agents. For instance, the FBI agents broke down doors, handcuffed innocent people as well as seized personal property ranging from personal computers to children’s toys. Some of the individuals arrested during this operation were later detained and secretly deported thereby denying them chance to legal counsel. While the government held to it that it was searching for suspected financial aids to terrorists abroad, the Muslim community on the other hand felt it was discriminatively being targeted by the security organs therefore denied existence of such financial transactions. They also largely protested at the manner in which the act was being implemented.
The US patriot act, as the name suggests, was created to instill and encourage and thereby provide a collective approach to fight terrorism that had threatened America. The act was therefore intentionally designed to safeguard all the sensitive information regarding the American national security as well as to ensure that the various security organs were actually aware of what the public knew about National security. Indeed the encouragement of the public to give out any vital information that could help counter terrorism was largely lauded as a patriotic spirit and show of love for the country.
The implementation of the act has seen a significant drop in terror related cases in the US as well as greatly helped control Mexican drug barons and cartels who smuggle cocaine into America. However, the implementation of the act has not gone without blame. A number of US residents, especially immigrants and the Muslim community have severely complained as being discriminated against and thereby falling victims of wrong implementation of the act.
The security organs agents have abused the provisions of the same act to harass innocent civilians, infringe on their privacy and wrongfully detain them on basis of no admissible evidence. As the act faces possible extension upon its closure, the congress should make some amendments on the act as it is to provide checks and balances especially in regard to its implementation.
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Ewing, A. B., & Doyle, C. (2005). The USA Patriot Act Reader. New York: Novinka Books.
Farnam, J. (2005). US immigration laws under the threat of terrorism. New York: Algora Publ.
Stefoff, R. (2011). The Patriot Act. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.
United States., & United States. (2005). Implementation of the USA Patriot Act: Section 212 – emergency disclosure of electronic communications to protect life and limb : hearings before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States, House of Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, first session, May 5, 2005. Washington, D.C: U.S. G.P.O.
Weimann, G. (2006). Terror on the internet: The new arena, the new challenges. Washington, DC: United States Inst. of Peace Press.
Wong, K. C. (2007). The impact of USA Patriot Act on American society: An evidence based assessment. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
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