What is the Patriot Act of 2001? The Act was passed in order to unite and strengthen the United States of America by providing all the appropriate and the necessary tools with which to fight terrorism. The President George W. Bush signed the Act on October 26th in 2001, after the devastating terrorist attacks that occurred on the nerve center of the United States of America, the World Trade Center, on September 11, 2001. (USA Patriot Act) These terrorist acts were a cleverly coordinated series of attacks on the Pentagon, which is the Headquarters of the Department of Defense of the United States of America and holds more than 23,000 civilian as well as military employees, and also more than 3,000 non-defense personnel, and on the World Trade Center, which is the center of global commerce that is responsible for providing network access to several large Corporations and to the government. It is also known as the business shopping center of a country, as it is in the United States. (The Pentagon)
The attack was carried out on September 11, and this was the first time that a foreign force had succeeded, and very well so, in attacking the mainland of the U.S.A., since the year 1814, when the famous war between Great Britain and America was fought, called the British-American War. The terrorist attack left more than 3,000 innocent persons dead, a toll that in fact exceeded that of the number of dead during the attacks on Pearl Harbor carried out by Japanese on American troops posted in Hawaii in the year 1941, and that in fact led to the entry of America into the Second World War in 1941. The strategy of the terrorists was to at first hijack four commercial airliners that were at the time of the attack filled up with jet fuel, nearly 24,000 gallons. (September11 2001, Terrorist Attacks) Once this was carried out, the flights became literal flying bombs, and two of these aircrafts were rammed into the two 110 stories high towers of the World Trade Center (World Trade Center) located in the city of New York, one flight onto the Pentagon in Virginia, (The Pentagon) and the fourth one crashed into an open field in Pennsylvania.
The number of people who died was 3,000, and quite a few important buildings were also destroyed completely or damaged partially, including the two towers of the World Trade Center that were totally damaged. In addition, five other buildings were destroyed; a subway station close to the twin towers was destroyed, and numerous buildings were destroyed in the Island of Manhattan and in Washington, the Pentagon was partially damaged by fire while another part collapsed. Soon after the attacks, the United States Government decided that the unit responsible for the terrorist attacks was the fundamentalist Islamic Organization, the 'Al-Quaeda' that had carried out similar terrorist attacks in the past under its leader, Osama bin Laden. This in turn led to the so-called 'war on terrorism' carried out by the United States on Afghanistan in October2001, then the invasion of Iraq in the year 2003, and the United States increased pressure on terrorism and terrorists and plans to cut down on the countries and the governments that encourage and harbor such terrorists in their midst in the civilized world of today. Security issues gained predominance and the Department of Homeland Security, a Cabinet level Federal Agency, was created in order to deal with these issues. (September11 2001, Terrorist Attacks)
The Patriot Act was passed as a result of the governmental increase in domestic security, and the Act states in detail that the United States of America will henceforth be protected from devastating terrorist attacks by deterring and severely punishing the offenders not only in America but also all over the world, and also for the purpose of enhancing the various investigatory tools that can be used by America in its fight against terrorism, to obstruct and prevent terrorism, as and where necessary. Under Title 1 of the Act, the means of increasing security against terrorism are included. These are as follows: there will be an anti-terrorism fund formed, and also a fund for the purpose of forming a technical support center for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Military assistance could be requested whenever necessary so that prohibition could be enforced in certain types of emergency situations, the National Electronic crime Task Force Initiative would be expanded, and the Presidential authority and stamp of approval would be available in the fight against terrorism campaign. (H. R. 3162 in the Senate of the United States)
Under Title II of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, enhanced surveillance procedures that would be made available to the governmental authorities in their fight against terrorism are detailed. These are: the government agencies involved would be granted the right as well as the authority to intercept and seize all types of communications related to terrorism, whether they were wire, or oral communications or even electronic. Similarly, the concerned authorities can seize these communications when computer fraud or any types of abuse are detected. Such criminal investigative the authorities can share information whenever necessary, and the FBI can employ such language translators as are necessary in their interpretations of certain communications by suspected terrorists. In addition, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed in the year 1978 allows 'roving surveillance' activities by a team of investigators when necessary.
Voice mail messages can be captured prior to the arrest of an individual, and subpoenas can be issued for the seizure of electronic communications, and these can be disclosed in certain emergency situations in order to 'protect life and limb'. Records and such items can be seized for investigative purposes under the FISA Act, and 'pen register' and also certain 'tap and trace' devices can be utilized by the concerned authorities. Computer trespasser communications, as well as foreign intelligence communications can be apprehended, and single-jurisdiction search warrants can be issued for suspected terrorists. (H. R. 3162 in the Senate of the United States) This comprehensive and complete Act was passed without much debate, just 45 days after the terrorist attack carried out by the Al-Qaeda group of Islamic militant fundamentalists on the United States of America, leaving thousands dead and many buildings completely destroyed, and losses amounting to more than just a few millions of dollars.
It may be true that the United States of America did feel the need for the passage of such an Act, but is it really as good as it is touted to be, and is it effective in controlling and curtailing terrorism and all its related activities, and how are the public affected by such an Act? There are many different and varied opinions on the subject. One individual opines that the Patriot Act has in fact taken away all the checks and the boundaries of law enforcement agencies. In fact, the very freedom and security that the Act purports to be protecting has become lost in its working and in its legislation because what it actually does is grant more access to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to pry and ferret out the most basic information from the private citizen of America; the Agency has been granted the right to access and invade all hitherto private information of the individual, such as medical papers, library records, student records, and other similar information. Furthermore, all this information can be accessed without even informing the person and that individual will continue his daily life without even being aware of the invasion of his privacy that had occurred.
To add insult to injury, the American government is considering the introduction of a sequel to the first Patriot Act of 2001, and this, many citizens feel, would further make life a misery as the feeling of privacy and freedom would be further invaded by the concerned authorities in the name of the law. The ACLU has been registering its protests against the Act by stating that the American Congress should have taken the time to consider whether the granting of more power to law enforcement authorities would accomplish the stated goal of fighting against terrorism; they insist that the privacy of the American citizen would be eroded by such measures, and that the Congress should have taken the fact that the Patriot Act is in reality violating the Constitutional rights of the individual before passing it. It must be re-examined, they say, in a manner that would be in keeping with the key constitutional protections that is the basic right of every citizen of the United States of America. (USA Patriot Act: American civil Liberties Union)
The provision of the patriot Act that details the anti-terrorism legislation 'Uniting and strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism' serves to limit the judicial supervision of electronic surveillance by these methods: the private Internet communications of an individual will be subject to a minimal reviewing standard, the law…