Patriot Act:

ENC 1102

30 April 2004

Violating our freedoms? or A necessary tool for the 21st century war on terror?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The 1st amendment of The United Stated Constitution is by far the constitution’s most important segment. And from those forty-four words, most of our freedoms and liberties are derived. It remains vitally important to make sure that no amendment is ever violated, and that no ones rights and liberties are ever trampled on. Despite the fact that it was passed by a huge bi-partisan majority just six weeks after 911; the Patriot Act and how it allegedly violates the Constitutional rights of American Citizens, has been one of the Democrats main arguments against the reelection of President Bush; their argument could be in vain.

By far the largest adversary to the Patriot Act, the American Civil Liberties Union, claims that the Patriot Act “vastly expanded the government\'s authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court”(Taylor). The ACLU states that the Patriot Act violates the rights of Americans in several ways. One such claim is that American Citizens do not know that their library habits and the types of books they read could be under government surveillance. They say this is, “odious and unnecessary” (ACLU). According to the United States Department of Justice this assertion is false.

The Patriot Act specifically protects Americans’ First Amendment rights, and terrorism investigators have no interest in the library habits of ordinary Americans. Historically, terrorists and spies have used libraries to plan and carry out activities that threaten our national security. If terrorists or spies use libraries, we should not allow them to become safe havens for their terrorist or clandestine activities. The Patriot Act ensures that business records — whether from a library or any other business — can be obtained in national security investigations with the permission of a federal judge (U.S. Department of Justice).

The Department of Justice completely tore it up, “Dispelling the myths” (U.S. Department of Justice), of every single fragment of the ACLU’s claim; just as they will do with the rest of the “myths” (U.S. Department of Justice).

The ACLU also claims that the Patriot Act violates amendment 4 of the United States Constitution: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. The ACLU says that the Patriot Act will “mark a sea of change in the way search warrants are executed” (ACLU, October 23, 2001). Again, according to the DOJ this is not true. The ACLU is acting like delayed notification search warrants are a brand new thing. This is not the case. They have actually been used for years. In cases that involve child pornography, drugs, and organized crime, delayed notification search warrants have long been used. All the Patriot Act does, is add domestic terrorism to the list of crimes that delayed notification search warrants can be used on. If we wish to capture terrorists, delayed notification search warrants must be used. If they were not used, and the criminals were told that there was a search warrant out for them, “they might flee, destroy evidence, intimidate or kill witnesses, cut off contact with associates, or take other action to evade arrest”(U.S. Department of Justice). The most important thing to remember is that there will be no search warrant until the authorities have authorization from a federal judge to do so.

Another claim on the part of the ACLU is that the Patriot Act “expands terrorism laws to include ‘domestic terrorism’ which could subject political organizations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for political advocacy.”(Taylor) They also say that the Patriot Act could now make