U.S.A. Patriot Act and Personal Rights
I believe that it is necessary to protect the personal rights of citizens even in the context of war. The USA Patriot Act is a violation of the law and Constitution of the U.S., especially because it infringes on the rights of citizens that are fundamental to their freedom and senses of identity as citizens. At a private level, individual safety and security include senses of comfort and freedom from fear, anxiety, risk, and apprehension. Despite the legislation’s purpose to “assure security and safety” for all citizens in the U.S. and promote more effective control and prevention of terrorism activities, its provisions promote citizens’ insecurity and fear for their own security and privacy, in violation of fundamental Constitutional provisions such as those of the Fourth Amendment.This means that the USA Patriot Act and its provisions contradict the U.S. Constitution and its purpose to promote the wellbeing and security of U.S. citizens and safeguard their identity and rights as human beings.
The most significant outcome of the USA Patriot Act was to elevate the investigation and oversight mandates of the government to a high. Aiming to offer the government andinstitutions charged with the responsibility to defend the country effective tools to “intercept and obstruct” terrorism, the legislation broadened the powers of government and these agencies in ways that violated the provisions of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibited unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring any warrants for such searches and seizures to have the specific backing of judicial sanctions and support by the standard of probable cause (standard that offers reasonable basis for police agencies or officers to obtain arrest or seizure warrants). As a component of the Bill of Rights, the Amendment restricted the scope of seizures and searches to the availability or supply of precise information to an issuing court.A Supreme Court decision in 1967 also broadened the scope of the Amendment’s coverage beyond physical intrusion into property to include individuals’ privacy and physical locations.
The USA Patriot Act allowed extensive information distribution among intelligence agencies and government institutions and authorized multiple device wire-tapping, in this way violating Amendment IV’s provisions. Another significant provision in the Act is Section 213, which authorized “sneak and peek” warrants for authorities to search premises without notifications of their owners.Proponents of the Act argue that these provisions are necessary because of the critical nature of security needs in modern times, considering the extreme and unpredictable nature of modern threats and terrorists’ tactics. They contend that citizensshould sacrifice certainrights in times of war to assure their safety.Nevertheless, the Constitution guarantees the rights of all citizens to privacy and security, with the Fourth Amendment identifying the availability of specific and reasonable amount of information (satisfying the “standard of probable cause”) as the only foundation for searches and seizures.Even when the information available fulfills this standard, the court that receives such information has to issue authority for the warrant.
In this context, the USA Patriot Act contradicts a fundamental provision of the Constitution. Despite the Act’s allowance of law enforcement and security operations that have led to the apprehension of many criminals who would have succeeded in avoiding detection and prosecution, and in the process saved many lives, it does not reverse that fact that it contradicts the Constitution, particularly the provisions of Amendment IV, and hence is unconstitutional.
American Security: Triumphs and Downfalls of the Patriot Act. n.d.
Lary Abramson, Lary, and Godoy, Maria. The Patriot Act: Key Controversies. National Public Radio, 2006.
Pros and Cons of the Patriot Act, 2013
American Security: Triumphs and Downfalls of the Patriot Act, n.d., para. 1-4
American Security: Triumphs and Downfalls of the Patriot Act, n.d., para. 3-8
Lary Abramson and Godoy, Maria, The Patriot Act: Key Controversies, National Public Radio, 2006, para. 4-8
Pros and Cons of the Patriot Act, 2013, para. 2-5
American Security: Triumphs and Downfalls of the Patriot Act, n.d., para. 1-5