Do you know what the USA Patriot Act does? Do you know why it was passed? Do you know it has a connection to the attacks of 9/11? The USA Patriot Act was passed by the congress as a response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This act gave new powers to the US Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and other federal agencies on domestic and international surveillance of electronic communications, it also removed legal barriers that had blocked law enforcement, intelligence and defence agencies from sharing information about potential terrorist threats and coordinating efforts to respond to them. When the act was newly passed, people were very happy with it but after some time passed, people started to criticize it. People said that this act expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens, allowing them to do house searches etc. which gave them new powers to violate civil liberties. Another one was data mining. Although it was done for terrorism investigations, it went against their privacy. People also say that it has made it easier to call them domestic terrorists. These criticisms were made only after the settling down of the 9/11 events.Most of these criticisms are based on misconceptions of what exactly the USA Patriot Act does. First, it is important to remember that the USA Patriot Act concern to warranty only applies to international terrorism and foreign intelligence investigations. Second, as required by the fourth Amendment, probable cause is needed for a house search, wiretap or any other investigations which means that this act does not affect the fourth Amendment. Third, people are blaming the Patriot Act for the fact that institutions and the government are able to obtain any personnel records(banking, telephone etc.). It was true before the passing of this act that the US government and most state and local governments were able to obtain our personnel records so its wrong to blame this act for this reason. Some people are also complaining that this act allows the government to check library records and what we are reading. Again, the government could already check them before the act was passed. Fourth, people say that it has made it easier to name citizens as domestic terrorists. It is wrong to think this way because ” The USA Patriot Act defines domestic terrorism as activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state.”(Michael Heavican, USA Patriot Act beneficial to protecting Americans’ freedoms) unless you actually are doing something wrong.
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