The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001: Need for National Security vs. Protection of Civil Liberties

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In a post-September 11th America, it is not uncommon for the mentioning of the word “terrorist” to spark any number of emotions in its citizens. In response to activities such as the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, as well as the 2001 anthrax scares, Congress proposed the USA PATRIOT Act. Supporters of the Act cite the importance and immeasurable need for greater protection in terms of national security, which is the government’s responsibility first and foremost to protect its citizens from enemies foreign and domestic. However, for every proponent there is an equally passionate opponent who partially believe not only does the Act impede on civil liberties and individual rights but was an opportunistic ploy to grant excess…show more content…
The following paragraphs delve into a brief synopsis of controversial issues surrounding the USA PATRIOT Act. The issue of surveillance practices has been a cause of concern since the Acts establishment. Title II of the act entitled “Enhanced Surveillance Procedures” which encompasses Section 201 through Section 225 (USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, 2001) is devoted specifically to outlining expanded government powers. Since 2001 certain controversial statutes were removed or changed such as the “requirement that the government prove a surveillance target under FISA is a non-U.S. citizen and agent of a foreign power” (Justice). It is stated in several resources that part of the initial discourse of surveillance powers was due to a general misunderstanding in the meaning. The surveillance portion of the USA PATRIOT Act seemingly provided additional government power in situations crucial to national security; it allowed for techniques to find, track, and gather information on suspected terrorists and terrorist activity especially on U.S. soil. Also expanded upon were wiretapping abilities of agencies to trail extremist activity without alerting them to the interference. The two provisions stated, while very general in description, provide grounds for an immense sense of security. Government and law enforcement agencies had a greater expanse of power in recognizing, identifying, tracking, and possibly preventing future incidents of threat

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