The Patriot Act

December 10, 2011


The Patriot Act may be the most controversial law ever passed in our countries history. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was pretty controversial , along with the Alien and Sedition acts which were widely argued about. Yet, the Patriot Act goes beyond boundaries never reached before, and arguably crosses lines within our constitution that should never be crossed. The Patriot Act, for those who many not be aware, is basically an act that dramatically reduces the amount and intensity of restrictions that law enforcement agencies need to put up with. These reduced restrictions allow law enforcement agencies to almost openly search through telephone conversations, emails and different records of basically any citizen that may be suspected of terrorist activity or affiliation. Some have said the Patriot Act has “turned citizens into suspects since 2001.”

The first question raised is do these acts and provisions invade our constitutional right of freedom of privacy. It’s hard to argue that the Patriot Act doesn’t invade this right given to the people by the constitution, the basis and backbone of our society. It completely invades our privacy, hacking and looking into peoples telephone calls and emails takes away a chunk of the privacy a citizen has. Just because a citizen is suspicious doesn’t give law enforcement agencies the power to look through everything this person does basically on a day to day basis. Now the opposition will say that the government needs to do whatever they can to ensure the safety of the people, and to not let something like 9/11 ever happen again. Now, I agree with this, terrorism is something we continually fight against and need to continually be cautious about, but making our own citizens the suspects is just not an option.Yes, the original act has been reduced since the original one Bush proposed, but major elements still exist that invade this privacy.

If my main man, Martin Luther King was still alive, he would be up in arms over the Patriot Act. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, King talks about the difference between unjust and just laws. Basically he says everyone has a moral obligation to follow the laws that are just. Yet, the laws that are seen as unjust, should be disobeyed by the people. According to King, just law is a moral law or the law of God, whereas unjust law is made up by humans and does not have anything common with eternal and natural law. Following what King said in his letter, he would be completely against the Patriot Act. He would advise the people to disobey this act in any way possible, an unjust law is not one that should be followed. MLK was very serious about this, the laws that are unfair to the people are meant to be disobeyed in order to hopefully change them.

Now I have taken my stance on the topic on hand. Now it is time for you to take yours. Do you think that the Patriot Act is a constitutional act? Can our right to privacy be limited if it ensures the safety of all? Would you agree with MLK that we should disobey this law? All comments are welcomed.



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5 Comments on “The Patriot Act”

  1. weinben Says:

    The Patriot Act was very big news when then President George W. Bush signed it into law. The country was pretty split over it: half thought it was a huge violation of their personal rights, while others thought it was necessary to give up a little in fear of another terrorist attack on United States soil. But the mind does not think clearly when saturated with terror, doubt and fear. People make irrational decisions because they want instant and temporary solutions, and I think the ability for Americans to let something of this nature and statue pass fairly unobstructed was one of the biggest failings as a nation. Our inability to provide any resistance in the form of civil disobedience against this unjust law simply illustrates that people often do not look for the solutions which are better for the long term.
    With this act in place, citizens honestly have no idea if, when or where the government might be tracking them or looking to their personal records and history. Having such a law in place not only undermines the government’s trust in its citizens but it ruins the rapport citizens have built with their government. It can takes decades before a government is considered legitimate but only a few days for people to disavow it and rebel. The government should be careful how it now utilizes the Patriot Act to avoid isolating the very people who allow it to operate with the level of power and authority that is has.

  2. habavol Says:

    I personally do not believe there is anything wrong with the Patriot Act. The whole reason behind it is to protect us, United States citizens. After September 11, 2001 everyone was scared and the government was scared. There had to be changes put in place to protect everyone and find who did this to us. I know it seems like an invasion of privacy, but they are not looking for little things that may seem like the end of the world if anyone finds out to you, but they are looking for leads of terrorism, and ensuring that we are all safe in this country. This seems like a brilliant idea to me, it makes me feel safe and I know that someone is looking out for me.

  3. djavolio8 Says:

    The bill was passed 357 to 66 in the house and 98 to 1 in the senate during the Bush administration. The bill was extended for an additional 4 years under the Obama administration, and many of the Republican candidates seeking the presidency have expressed a willingness to strengthen the Patriot Act. This was not a bill passed by right wing conservatives or left wing extremists as a political move to further the agenda of their respective party. This bill keeps the American people safe.

    My thought on the Patriot Act is similar to airport security. While I have often been pulled aside for “random” searching, I’m actually ok with it. Yes it can be annoying and frustrating and yes the searches are by no means “random,” but if it means I can be assured I will have a safe plane ride then that minor inconvenience is fine by me. If the government sees the need to look at who I’ve called or who I sent an email to I frankly don’t care because I don’t have anything to hide. The terrorist acts that have been stopped because of the Patriot Act are extensive in the least, with the most recent being the “lone wolf” car bomber that was going to target post offices and military veterans.

  4. ksoisson Says:

    If you look at polls that were taken, the immediate support for the Patriot Act was fairly high. However, support has dropped significantly since then. People were really afraid of what else might happen after experiencing 9/11 and didn’t want anything similar to ever happen again. If the right to privacy is limited to everyone, then I think it makes it more justifiable. However, it’s been proven that specific people were targeted under the act, which would make it unconstitutional. I’m currently in an introduction to Arab American studies course and I learned a lot about this topic. Completely innocent people were brought in for questioning and this instilled fear in many Arab Americans.

    I personally didn’t experience any discomfort from the Act, but you have to look at it from multiple perspectives. The Act does make me feel safer, but I know I’m not being targeted. With that being said, the law is indeed a very controversial one.

  5. Obada Ghabra Says:

    I believe that the Patriot Act is a very bad thing for our country. Whether the Patriot Act makes us more safe or not, I think it is disturbing to give that much power to the government. Those that support the act assume that the government will only use the law for our safety and benefit. I think that the government should be limited from private information as much as possible even if I think that they won’t misuse it. I think it is a dangerous precedent to set to give the government the ability to monitor our private lives.

    As the previous comment says, the Patriot Act is being used in ways that are unjust (targeting innocent Arabs and Muslims). I think for that reason, Dr, King would oppose this bill. I do not know if it is really possible to disobey this law and engage in civil disobedience, This law is not one that can be outright disobeyed, How can we disobey increased surveillance of our actions? This makes this even more disturbing since we have no effective way of combating the law.

    In response to djavolio8, the fact that so many congressmen voted for this act does legitimize it in my eyes. It once again adds to my concern as to where this country is headed. I recently wrote on a bill which I think is very much related to this topic. The bill allows the US military to arrest US citizens within American borders.

    Here’s my post:

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