Patriot Act Homeland Security Act 21st Century form foundation United States' domestic response terrorist attacks September 11, 2001. Many legal political voices advocated acts resulted a reduction rights citizens a loss civil liberties.
The Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act:
Are they a violation of our constitutional rights?
According to the U.S. government, the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act gave the government the necessary tools to investigate acts of terror, including greater leeway in the use of surveillance technology; greater leeway in sharing information between law enforcement agencies, and increased the penalties for terrorist-related crimes (The U.S. Patriot Act, 2014, Department of Justice). However, it is very difficult to establish whether a law has genuinely prevented crime, particularly a crime with such complex causality as terrorism. Furthermore, civil liberties groups have criticized the Act for limiting the freedom of innocent Americans. Rather than improving the safety of Americans, organizations such as the ACLU allege that it has merely made the U.S. more vulnerable to charges that it practices discrimination against Muslims and is willing to trample the civil rights of individuals. What use are more stringent laws against terror if the take away the liberties they are ostensibly supposed to protect?
Throughout American history, there have been many examples of times where fears during wartime resulted in a curtailment of national liberties, including during the McCarthyism of the Cold War in which people with left-leaning sympathies were targeted as potential 'communists.' However, the Patriot Act actually enshrined into law certain provisions which seem at odds with basic constitutional liberties, including prosecuting librarians who reveal that the government has subpoenaed library records; searching and seizing without probable cause when an investigation is related to a terrorist treat; and jailing an accused person indefinitely if they are accused of terrorist acts (The Patriot Act in a nutshell, Associated Press).
The Act also allowed persons accused of terrorism to be held without a trial, without the right to confront accusers, and to be held indefinitely without charges. All of these are examples of constitutional violations, critics contend, given that Americans are given the right to free speech under the First Amendment, the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, and the right to confront their accusers under the Fifth Amendment. As well as to conduct surveillance of a suspect's home, under the Act the government acquired sweeping powers to acquire personal data from "car rental companies, casinos, Internet hosts like Google, social networking sites like Facebook, and most likely cafes and businesses that offer Wi-Fi access to their customers" (Rose 2011). According to the U.S. Constitution, a person is innocent until proven guilty, while under the tenants of the Act, it would seem that everyone is a potential suspect with no expected right to privacy, even when typing on a computer in the privacy of his or her own home.
Parts of the Patriot Act have already been ruled unconstitutional. In 2007, a Muslim convert and attorney named Brandon Mayfield was subjected to warrantless…
Sources Used in Document:
Judge rules part of the Patriot Act unconstitutional. (2007). NBC. Retrieved from: