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The Patriot Act. It’s a good thing, right? Protecting us from terrorists, and making sure we’re always safe wherever we are. But are we that safe? Because of the Patriot Act, the United States’ government can barge into people’s homes uninvited, and take random, innocent citizens away from their family for questioning of crimes they haven’t committed. Now, does that seem fair?
The Patriot Act goes entirely against the First Amendment. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no laws…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” which clearly states that there shall be no laws that get rid of freedom of speech and/or freedom of the press. The Patriot Act controls many of our freedoms: freedom of association, information, speech, unreasonable searches; and right to liberty, to a speedy and public trial, and right to legal representation. Former U.S. Vice President, Al Gore, says the act intrudes an American’s privacy, reduces freedom, and takes away their constitutional rights, and who would know the laws better than a member of the government? Also, because of the Patriot Act, it’s a crime to protect your privacy from the national government. The Patriot Act violates the democratic rights of freedom of political expression, and breaches our rights to freedom, expression, speech, and information. Since the Patriot Act, FBI agents can search personal information, read emails, and listen to private phone calls without reason.
The Patriot Act violates the Fourth Amendment in every point. The Fourth Amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures,” which means that the Patriot Act basically rids completely of an American’s privacy. The act authorizes random surveillance of religious services and political forums. The act even allows the U.S. government to have a right to monitor what you do on the internet, keep track of your emails, and check who calls you and who you call on the telephone, and they don’t need a reason as to why. The FBI can go into any library in the United States and ask who has been in it, and what they’re reading. Though this part of the act can increase safety, (if someone were reading a book on how to make a dangerous weapon, murder someone, etc.) it decreases privacy which all Americans have a right to. The FBI can also demand records of all buildings, such as: banks, colleges, hotels, hospitals, credit-card companies, and many, many others. Former Judge Andrew P. Napolitano of the Superior Court of New Jersey says, “Without the Fourth Amendment’s protection, we will become another East Germany.”
During America’s first 212 years, the police needed to convince a judge to give them a search warrant in order to barge into a person’s house. If they got this warrant, they had to leave a list of what they too, if anything, and why it was taken. Starting in 2001, however, government agents can come into your home at anytime of the day without warning, and you don’t need to be present at the house. Judge Napolitano states, “Since October, 2001, the FBI has written over 120,000 self-written warrants on unsuspecting Americans.” The House of Representatives votes 309-118 to repeal the “sneak-and-peek” searches. Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Ron Wyden introduced the RIghts of Individuals Act. This act limits “sneak-and-peek” searches: those whose homes have been searched must be notified within seven days. Judges in every state are available 24/7 to issue warrants, so there is no need for the FBI to make self-written ones.
The Patriot Act was established after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. 10:00-11:00 A.M., twelve years ago, President George W. Bush signed the U.S.A. Patriot Act. This act’s main point was to protect people from terrorism, but this very act changed the definition of terrorism so that even nonviolent groups can be labeled as terrorists. The Patriot Act raises controversial issues: violation the Constitution, and immensely impacting our social lives. “It violated the Constitution by giving federal authorities unchecked power to obtain the private information,” (Swartz, 2004) A new crime known as “domestic terrorism” was created by the Patriot Act, where even harmless protestors can be arrested. Because of the Patriot Act, immigrants can and will be tried behind closed doors by the government. Under the regulations of the Patriot Act, anyone can now be held as a “material witness,” and taken far away from their family for a long time. The US government can also take any citizens that are believed to be a “threat,” and arrest them without trial or lawyer. Because of the Patriot Act, it’s a crime to tell someone if you’re under investigation by the government or FBI.
In conclusion, the Patriot Act causes nothing but breaches in the 1st and 4th Amendments. Not all immigrants are terrorists, not all speech is threatening, and not every home needs invading. As Americans we have a right to speak our minds and keep what we want private.
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