The world has come to terms with the looming threat of terrorism particularly after the deadly and unforgettable historical incident of 9/11. Various security acts since then have been proposed and some have also been implemented. This analytical research paper throws light upon the Patriot Act. The reference page appends three sources in MLA format.
What’s Public? What’s Private?
The Patriot Act, in itself is neither all good nor all bad. It has both much-needed strengths to combat terrorism and serious shortcomings in terms of privacy and purpose issues. However, the Patriot Act is potentially capable of doing much good than harm if timely and adequate amendments are made in the controversial, meaningless and potentially harmful provisions of the Patriot Act.
With the world rapidly transmuting into a global village, diversity is on the rise, more than ever in human history and with it has popped up problem of intolerance of each other’s values, beliefs and principles. When this lack of tolerance augments at an alarming pace, bigger social and cultural issues erupt paving way for greater and deadly consequences. One such consequence was the September 11 incident that completely shook people up, due to mass destruction that it caused and thus compelled both the public sector and the private sector to re-evaluate the nation’s homeland security systems and the potential threats to the same. On the same account, the government of the United States of America the SAFETY Act “as part of the Homeland Security Act to encourage potential manufacturers or sellers of anti-terrorism technologies (ATTs) to develop and sell technologies that could reduce the risk or mitigate the effects of large-scale terrorist events by limiting legal liabilities that might otherwise be faced by such developers and sellers for injuries and losses sustained in an act of terrorism” (Slepian). This SAFETY Act however, has caused much turmoil and debate among social strata thereby creating two distinct sides to the Patriot Act, one of the proponents while the other of the opponents. This analytical research paper will throw light upon the Patriot Act in general while highlighting its strengths as well as weaknesses. The Patriot Act can be evaluated in the light of “necessity, productivity and oversight” (Strickland), concepts that can dig into the foundations of the Act.
III. Commenting on Section 202:
Enhanced penalties to the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
Although not directly relevant to the war on terrorism, this section has been proved to be extremely useful in launching war against computer-related and e-crimes. Hence, it’s both logical and helpful and thus has earned itself the right to stand where it does in the Patriot Act.
Commenting on Section 203:
Sharing of law enforcement information with intelligence officials
This provision has again proved to be quite helpful and rational in gathering adequate “law enforcement information” on grounds of “probable cause of criminal action”.
However, YES the information must NOT be provided to the law-enforcing agencies and other linked authorities simply because it is “required”. This is because, this reasoning clearly lacks proof and necessity and instead causes undue suspicion associated with the risk factors. Due to lack of established ground for conducting an intelligence activity with the absence of “probable cause” also generates public opposition, which can prove detrimental to the cause of the Act rather than assisting the government in running security checks.
However, with slight reasonable modifications, this section can be made appealing to the masses and less threatening to the public and thus effectively waging a war against terrorism.
Commenting on Section 207
Extension of duration of FISA electronic surveillance and physical search orders
This provision directly impacts the efforts against terrorism and has done so quite positively. Implemented and used only with the approval of an appointed federal judge, this provision has resulted in substantial time saving.
Commenting on Section 215:
Broadened authority to seek intelligence court orders for information
This is by far the MOST controversial provisions put forth in the Patriot Act and thus has been the major bone of contention among the polarized public of America. According to the opponents of the Patriot Act, this provision in the Act openly and courageously violates civil liberties and hence threatens the security of the public at large. This is because with this aid of this provision, government and other intelligence agencies can now intrude upon all “tangible things” of the American individuals in the name of war against terrorism, without their consent or their knowledge of the same. As obvious as it is, this section does make the loophole in the Act apparent and demands for urgent modification and re-consideration.
However, instead of vehemently opposing the entire ‘package’ of the Patriot Act, reasonable amendments can be made to remove the current objections. This can be done by incorporating rules like presenting a strict warrant from an authorized judge for conducting a security check or scrutiny of private documents just as many other law binding acts for instance The Fourth Amendment, Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (Lithwick & Turner)
Moreover, all concerned and responsible authorities like FISA and FBI must take timely measures to answer all queries of concerned public citizens in best possible way so as to remove all ambiguities that hinder progress and true implementation of the Patriot Act. Those citizens or citizen right groups and activists must be satisfied with the help of correct and prompt information that they desire. So far, observation and readings show little evidence in support of this provision that has sparked an incessant debate among all levels of society.
It can be concluded that legal binding in the form of various SAFETY Acts in general and the Patriot Act in particular has forced the nation as a whole to focus on the missing part. Thus, “with the focus of our attention on security at home, in our schools, at the workplace, and even in recreational venues such as athletic arenas, we have become sensitized to the need to protect ourselves, and for the need for sophisticated technologies for doing so. The SAFETY Act [along with the Patriot Act] will hopefully encourage new thinking about how our overall safety requirements can be better met” (Slepian).
Lithwick, Dahlia & Turner, Julia. A Guide to the Patriot Act, Part I. Retrieved on November 05, 2005 from: http://www.slate.com/id/2087984/
Slepian, Charles. Public SAFETY can bring private safety. Retrieved on November 05, 2005 from: http://www.frac.com/CurrentArticles/Personal/0504_SAFETYAct.html
Strickland, Lee. USA Patriot Act Redux: Should We Reauthorize or Repudiate the Post-9/11 Authorities? Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology. Issue: June/July 2005.