Write 2 pages thesis on the topic terrorism and patriot act. Terrorism and the Patriot Act of the of the Terrorism and the Patriot Act Q. Can terrorism be adequately dealt with through the legislative process, such as with the Patriot Act? Why or why not? Would you be willing to give up some of your rights to allow law enforcement more latitude in dealing with terrorism? Why or why not? Support your position.
The specter of foreign terrorism raised its ugly head on September11, 2001 when Al Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed two commercial flights at short intervals into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, while a third crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth was forced to land in a field in Pennsylvania. Over 3000 people lost their lives. While America was still recovering from the shock of this barbaric act on its home soil, President George W. Bush lost no time in pursuit of the culprits. He ordered airstrikes on likely hideouts of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. At the administrative level, he promulgated the Patriot Act 2001 and established the Department of Homeland Security to help deal with all further threats and protect the borders of the USA and its people. Some sweeping powers were given to these personnel to track, apprehend and arrest possible suspects who wanted to harm America and its interests. The extent of these powers is a matter of debate, as many opine that it violates the rights of privacy and freedom as guaranteed under the U.S Constitution (Worrall, 2011).
The Patriot Act was signed into Law by President Bush on October 26, 2001, just over a month and a half after the events of September 11. The Act has 10 separate sections, one each relating to enhancing domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, anti-money-laundering, removing obstacles to investigations, information sharing, criminal law, terrorism intelligence and border security. Many sections were due to sunset after four years, but they were extended by President Obama in the larger public interest (CLDC, 2012).
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Among the most contentious of the powers under Section 213 is that of arresting someone on mere suspicion of being a terrorist, and that of searching his or her house without a warrant. Section 218 allows for wiretapping of such suspect’s every means of communication. Under Section 805, anybody even suspected of giving advice or assistance to a terrorist would be liable for arrest and prosecution. Granted that we have to nip terrorism in the bud, but such measures are a close call to violating the privacy and integrity of American citizens and go against the widely held precept of ‘innocent till proven guilty’ that forms the backbone of our justice system. Further there have also been some cases of false arrests that were an embarrassment for the FBI such as that of 16 year old Ashton Lundeby who was arrested in March 2009 for purportedly making bomb threats over the Internet. In fact his mother maintains that his computer had been hacked and that somebody else was in fact the author of the threats, but to no avail. He has been imprisoned for life under the provisions of the Patriot Act that take away powers from the Courts, the Legislature and private citizens, placing it at the hand of the Executive and it agencies (WRAL.com, 2009). It even supersedes the U.S Constitution. No less a person than President Obama himself remarked in 2003 that he was appalled by the suggestion that the NSA could legally arrest an American citizen without a warrant. I do not believe that terrorism can be dealt with adequately through the legislative process. The miscarriages of justice that have occurred in various cases such as Rumsfeld vs. Padilla (2004), Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld (2004) and Ashcroft vs. Al-Kidd (2011) are scary and signify the weaknesses of the Law and the abuse of powers granted via the Patriot Act. I for one would not be willing to give up my privacy and integrity rights under the Patriot Act as hundreds of people have already been detained at Guantanamo Bay under various suspicions of aiding and abetting possible terrorists. The Washington Post reported in 2007 that the U.S Government agencies were tracking falafel sales to link Iranian suspects, so even racial profiling of Muslims has not ended. It will take some time and a superhuman effort to review and repeal the repugnant portions of a Law that was passed by a Congress and Senate under the grip of panic and fear. I for one would surely support these much needed changes.
CLDC, A Brief History of the USA Patriot Act (2001). Accessed on 06 June 2012 at http://cldc.org/dissent-democracy/patriot-act-government-repression/patriot-act/
Worrall, J., Criminal Procedure: From First Contact to Appeal, 4th ed.(2011). pp 30-36.
WRAL.com. Mom says Patriot Act stripped son of due process, April 29, 2009. Accessed on 06 June 2012 at http://www.wral.