The Dangerous Rise of Government Surveillance: The Patriot Act Essays

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"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter; the rain may enter -- but the King of England cannot enter; all this force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement" (William Pitt the Elder). This idea of freedom and security against the government was the foundation for the United States when it was established in 1776. However, times have drastically changed since then. More specifically, the horrifying terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 led to a devastated, panicked, safety-seeking country. To “fight the present danger” (George W. Bush) that our country was facing, a bill named the USA Patriot Act was drafted and quickly passed on October 25, 2001, less than forty-five days of the attacks. This bill allows broad surveillance, secret search and seizures, and extreme privacy issues. By extensively expanding government surveillance and investigative powers, the Patriot Act unconstitutionally poses a huge threat to this nation’s civil liberties.
This USA Patriot Act now grants law enforcement agencies the power to broadly access American citizen’s Internet searches, telephone calls, text messages, and emails in anti-terrorism investigations and even in smaller, everyday criminal investigations. “There is evidence that the government has phone record metadata on all Verizon customers, and probably on every American, going back seven years. This metadata is extremely revealing; investigators mining it might be able to infer whether we have an illness or an addiction, what our religious affiliations and political activities are, and so on” (Granick, Sprigman). This mass level of survei...

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...en though we are supposed to have the right to freedom of symbolic assembly and petition. It violates the Fifth Amendment because often times when a suspect terrorist is taken into custody they do not get a grand jury to tell them if there is enough evidence to go to trial. There have been many cases in the last ten years where both American and immigrant suspects are indefinitely detained with little to no evidence that they are even related to any act of terrorism.
Since the Patriot Act’s passage in 2001, several legal challenges have been brought against it until federal courts ruled that a number of provisions were unconstitutional.

Works Cited

Granick, Sprigman. "The Criminal N.S.A." The New York Times. N.p., 27 June 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 2013.

"How the USA Pariot Act Redefines Terrorism." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., 6 Dec. 2002. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

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