The Patriot Act authorizes unethical and unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens with a negligible improvement in national security.
Free speech, free thinking, and a free American lifestyle can not survive in the climate of distrust and constant fear created by the Patriot Act. Kennedy once said in his famous “Day of Affirmation Address” that the first and most critical element of “individual liberty is the freedom of speech; the right to express and communicate ideas, to set oneself apart from the dumb beasts of field and forest . .” Modern American politicians and lawmakers, it seems, have lost sight of the important ideals that Kennedy spoke about and upon which this country was founded—ideals like civil rights, personal freedom, and the right to privacy.
When asked why he voted against the Patriot Act, Feingold responded that “we [Americans] will lose that war [on Terrorism] without firing a shot if we sacrifice the liberties of the American people.” Essentially, Feingold argued that the Patriot Act is counter-productive: if government “security” is meant to protect American liberties, then the American people should not have to sacrifice their liberties to purchase security.
What purpose will “security” serve if there are no liberties left to defend?
The Act violates the fundamental American ideal of “checks and balances” on government power.
Normally, the government can not conduct a search of a citizen’s residence without obtaining a warrant and demonstrating a reason to believe that the suspect has committed (or may commit) a crime.The Patriot Act does not demand sufficient proof that alleged “suspects” are engaged in criminal activity before authorizing government surveillance.Even upstanding American citizens can become targets of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance simply because of the manner in which they exercise their First Amendment rights (Beeson).The Patriot Act fails to strike a desirable balance between protecting American lives against the threat of terrorism and protecting the rights of Americans against potential government abuse (“Reform”).Particularly upsetting about the Act are several critical provisions designed to widely expand government power with limited “checks and balances” and nearly limitless potential for abuse.The American people rallied behind the Federal government and provided support.Tragically, Congress drafted the Patriot Act and decreed that it would be the solution to America’s problems.No longer can a newspaper editor publish an article that is critical of the government—even if it is legal—without fear that Big Brother may begin to survey his every thought and action.This may very well be the most frightening aspect of the Patriot Act: the fact that the Act allows the government to spy on of its citizens, not just the bad ones.Forty-five days after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, also known as the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act, or more simply, the Patriot Act.The Patriot Act was created with the noble intention of finding and prosecuting international terrorists operating on American soil; however, the unfortunate consequences of the Act have been drastic.