Current State of American Democracy

The Patriot Act in the United States is a Congress act that George W. Bush signed into law on October 26, 2001, with the ten-letter ellipsis (USA PATRIOT). Its goal is to strengthen and unite America by giving it the tools it needs to stop and prevent terrorism. Chris Cylke, a member of the judiciary house committee's staff, gave the title. After the terrorist assaults of September 11 and the anthrax attacks of 2001, the Congress enacts laws to strengthen security controls (Eade 15). However, the act has faced opposition since it authorized indefinite immigrants’ detention with law enforcers conducting a door to door search without the owner’s knowledge or consent. The act also facilitated the National Security inscriptions which permit the federal bureau of investigation to conduct a search in emails, telephone as well as the financial records of terror suspects without using court orders.

After the act is passed into law, several legal shortcomings have been formulated which are against the act with the federal courts ruling that specific provisions are not per the constitution. By the beginning of 31st December 2005, roughly four years after the law passage, numerous provisions in the act were to sunset. A few months prior to the sunset, the act supporters pushed to ensure that sunsetting provisions were permanent while the detractors required some revision specific sections such that they enhanced civil autonomy protection(Evans 21). The Senate approved a reauthorization bill using substantial adjustments in some segments of the act with the reauthorization statement maintaining the majority of the acts in the initial language. Later on, the two bills were resigned during conference committees which faced critics from senators in both the Democrats and Republican parties since it ignored civil liberation concerns. After deliberations from the Senate, the amended bill removed nearly all of the alterations from the Senate and was passed by the Congress on 2nd March 2006 after being signed by President Bush on 10th of the same month. President Obama later signed the Patriot sunset extension act in 26th may 2011 with key provisions being search conducts in business premises, conducting scrutiny of suspected terrorist activities as well as roving wiretaps. Some parts of the act expired in 2015 following the lack of congressional endorsement. This was followed by the approval of USA Freedom Act in 2nd June 2015 whereby the expired sections became restored so as to work until 2019 which saw the amendment of section 215 that stopped the security agency in the country from collecting mass phone data(Evans 27). The phone companies were supposed to retain the mobile data and the security agency would only obtain the information of targeted people as per the federal court rulings.

The act has several titles which further define the requirements as per the country’s constitution. In the first title, the main focus is placed on enhancing domestic safety through curbing terrorism acts. The title also criticizes discrimination against Muslims together with the Arabs living in America in addition to racial disparagement against Sikh Americans(Schmermund 32). The act contains an enhanced surveillance process which covers various aspects in observing suspected terrorist in the country. Furthermore, the act prohibits money laundering business which may be the main funding organization towards terrorist groups in the country or even overseas. These are through the cash laundering control act that strengthens banking rules, improves communication and good record keeping methods. Under the act, there is the issue of border security with the amendment on nationality and immigration act that investigates and enforces the law through the U.S Attorney General thus minimizing naturalization and immigration services. Finances were set aside to enhance the border perambulation services through collaborative efforts with the customer services that ensure an improved technology to monitor the Northern border.

Removing of any obstacles that may prevent an investigation concerning terrorist is incorporated in the act whereby the attorney general can reward pursuant in form of adverts that may assist the justice department combat and prevent terrorist acts. He also has the authority to dismantle any terrorist allied organization through identifying the key players. By overcoming the obstacles in the security department, federal agencies have an opportunity to share vital information concerning any terrorist act with law enforcement agencies. Federal officers can access information using electronic surveillance or conduct physical searches with consultations from national law enforcement department who coordinate investigation efforts or offer protection against potential attacks(Hess et al. 56). In addition, the act considers the families of victims who suffer as a result of terrorism through crime funds provision which caters for an improved aid to the relatives of public protection officers which is usually in form of payment to officers injured or killed while maintaining order.

The assistant attorney general has expanded rights such that he can make grants to associations which administer justice programs which usually entail the public safety officers benefit agenda with the payment being done immediately after 30 days. The compensation was increased from 40% to 60% of the total funds in order to help citizens adversely affected by terror crimes overseas(Taylor 45). Through the Omnibus Crime management and secure streets act, there has been an increased ability of the American law enforcement to counteract terror activities which crosses borders of jurisdiction. There have been changes or creation or several miscellaneous laws which do not fit in either of the sections in the act. Hazmat licenses have been restricted such that only drivers who have qualified background checks are entitled to handling such materials. Inspector general in the justice department can appoint a monitoring officer to review as well as reporting abuse of civil rights to the department. Through this amendment, electronic surveillance has excluded communication interception that is conducted using secured gadgets thus legally involving the owner in case of any investigations being done. The act provides assistance to the attorney general through ensuring effective and efficient dissemination of information gotten from electronic surveillance or through conducting physical searches.

The Patriot Act has brought various controversies since it was enacted with the opponents being vocal especially in asserting since it was passed immediately after the 11th September terror attack since they thought there could be some time to debate. The opponents view the act as a hurried procedure with little consideration of necessary amendments before it was passed into law with senators Russ Feingold and Patrick Leahy proposing for changes so as to modify the ultimate revision(Schmermund 61). The absolute magnitude of the act was noted in a controversial film done by Michael Moore whereby in one scene, he recorded Jim McDermott who was a congressman alleging that there is no senator who had comprehended the bill. A new sheet meant to challenge the justice department’s website shows that the law enactment threatens the citizens’ basic civil autonomy with Ashcroft calling for amendments in the law to make it incremental and modest.

A recent case presented in the court involving Antoine Jones who owns a nightclub and the U.S. He was associated in drugs trafficking through a law enforcement GPS device attached to his vehicle without a warrant thus causing serious sincerity obstacle to federal prosecutors(Anglim 34). His case rose all the way to the Supreme Court after taking many years where it was overturned thus favoring the defendant. The court discovered that suspects monitoring increase resulting from the legislation included in the act directly subjected suspects in jeopardy of their constitutional rights. The law has been further criticized as unconstitutional by the electronic solitude information center especially in cases whereby law-abiding citizen’s communication is incidentally intercepted.

The electronic frontier organization stated that lower standard functional to wiretaps offered the FBI a warrant to violate the communication privacy of numerous innocent Americans. The act facilitates voicemail access through search affirmation rather than the wiretap order. The electronic frontier foundation disapproves the provision since it lacks notice thus causing a probable violation of the fourth alteration in the constitution. This is due to the illegal listening of voicemails done by the FBI which could be used as evidence against a defendant in a court of law. The Patriot Act expands the court jurisdiction which allows nationwide search warrant services has been proved controversial by the EFF since they consider the agency to have the ability to obtain information that could be biased in law enforcement while observing search warrants(Anglim 38). This reduces the possibility that smaller internet service providers may protect the client’s privacy while being challenged in court. This is considered as a bad idea since only the communication provider can be able to confront the warrant since many affirmations are issued without the consent of the target.

Laws that govern material support concerning terrorism have been further criticized by the electronic frontier foundation for breaching the freedom of association by arguing that the laws were enacted in the Apartheid regime period. The American citizens could not support the African National Congress since there were allegations that it was a terror organization(Schmermund 67). The foundation gives examples of humanitarian social employees being incapable to offer training to Hamas members on how to take care of orphan children in Israel and Palestine divergence. The lawyers were unable to safeguard human rights by failing to teach member about international laws thus causing the peace workers to be unable to offer essential training for peace negotiations or means to file petitions to the United Nations.

The American Library Association objects the provisions made by the act since they believe that the records found in the library basically differ from normal business records thus limiting the freedom of speech. The association was concerned by the formed resolution since the act urged associates to defend speech freedom as well as protecting patron’s privacy. In 2005, a charitable consortium involving several libraries worked on lifting a suppress order for the records found in the library through challenging orders from the government the gag being lifted in 2006(Taylor 78). Canadians residing in British Columbia province raised privacy concerns since the U.S government had access to private information regarding the Canadians’ thus outsourcing American companies. The widespread influence of the act has eventually overcome legislations deliberated in Canada despite efforts placed to secure the information of B.C region citizens.

There are several policy solutions that can be enacted in order to minimize the challenges brought about by the passage of the act. To begin with, the act was enacted without involving a comprehensive understanding of the act since it was enacted immediately after the terror disaster in New York. The act seemed protective since the short term impacts shielded the citizens from predictable attack without considering the long-term impacts which suppress the citizens as well as the immigrants(Evans 87). The act brought about racial discrimination which targeted the Arabs and Muslim community in the country. In order to reduce the discrimination impacts, the government should have protected the communities since not every person from these communities supports terror activities. The act does not uphold modest inclination while passing verdict which causes oppression of the citizens through denying them freedom of expression. Tracking methods without the defendant's consent are yet another challenge posed by the act which could even be a setup method to a suspected terrorist. As a way of intervention, the act should incorporate the suspect’s agreement so as to be aware of anyone who might be investigating their daily activities with ill intentions that may harm the person(Hess et al. 56). The act also grants the FBI permission to follow innocent citizens’ voicemail which is considered a privacy breach. The administration should limit the privacy violation through strictly following up conversations of the suspected individuals since the information shared through voicemails can contain discrete personal information.

Alternatively, the government can grant the internet service providers an ability to follow up their client’s information and by doing so; they reduce the rate of personal information violation whereby they can contact the operator to notify the client of any suspected issues. The federal government should further uphold the freedom of association through informing the suspects of any search warrant so as not to jeopardize the constitutional rights of the citizens. Furthermore, the act should be amended such that the social workers working overseas can offer services to vulnerable groups regardless of the victim’s occupation since the act does not allow the employees to help people allied to terrorism(Anglim 62). The act should not suppress the freedom the libraries since the information found in the facilities differ from personal information thus freedom should be facilitated in order to ensure information reaches the respective target groups. The administration should also ensure that privacy is maintained by not invading foreign countries such as Canada thus upholding peaceful cohesion with neighboring countries.

Work Cited

Anglim, Christopher. Privacy Rights in the Digital Age. 2015.

Eade, Kenneth. A Patriot’s Act. Createspace Independent Pub, 2016.

Evans, Kim Masters. National Security. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2017.

Hess, Kären M., et al. Police Operations: Theory and Practice. Delmar ; Cengage Learning [distributor, 2014.

Schmermund, Elizabeth. Domestic Terrorism. Greenhaven Publishing, 2017.

Taylor, Kirsten L. Challenges for America in the Middle East. SAGE /CQ Press, 2017.

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