List of Pros and Cons of The Patriot Act
After America was attacked by terrorists in 2001, it signaled the need for legislation that would help to protect the nation from similar threats. A mere 43 days after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, in an environment where many Americans were overcome with panic, the Patriot Act was signed and became a regulation.
In the 13 years since the Patriot Act’s initial inception, there has been a great deal of debate about the pros and cons of the Act. Supporters believe that the Patriot Act has kept us safe and discouraged further terrorist attacks. Detractors argue that the Patriot Act is not lawful and needs to be stricken from the record books.
List of Pros of The Patriot Act
1. Ease of Surveillance
The Patriot Act makes surveillance much easier. It allows companies to have a clear division of labor between those who are able to investigate terrorist activities. Surveillance used to be a very awkward process, even for government agencies, but the Patriot Act ha smoothed over many of these rough spots.
2. Assists Law Enforcement
Law enforcement used to encounter a great deal of barriers that would impede their investigations into terrorist activity. While many citizens believed that the government had complete autonomy to investigate any parties that they believed were involved in terrorist activities, it was quite difficult before the Patriot Act.
3. Speeds Up Investigations
The Patriot Act allows the government’s surveillance to transcend natural barriers and those that are man made. Speed is a major key to any sort of investigation into terrorism, and the Patriot Act allows for much faster inquiries into potentially suspicious activities. War criminals who are on United States territory are no longer able to hide behind the freedoms granted to law abiding citizens.
4. Increases Security Measures
The Patriot Act is considered necessary by those who are worried about the technology of the time taking precedence over proper investigation. As modes of communication continue to change on a constant basis, there is more investigation to be done. No longer are potential terrorists limited in their ability to contact one another, so increased security measures are considered necessary by Patriot Act supporters.
5. Expanded Intelligence Collection
The regulations regarding wiretapping have been altered, thanks to the Patriot Act. This makes it much easier for the government to listen in on any conversation that they deem a threat to national security. Provisions were added to the Patriot Act that allow police officers to gain intelligence, while not tipping off a potential terrorist cell to the fact that they are under surveillance.
6. Prevent Attacks More Quickly
If the investigating officers uncover any sort of malfeasance or a planned attack, then they are able to strike quickly, snuffing out a nascent threat before it has a chance to become full blown. The government is able to get out in front of the situation and verify whether the cell that is under surveillance is a true threat before proceeding.
7. Helps Save Funding Costs to Victims
Funding concerns are also addressed by the existence of the Patriot Act. Before the Patriot Act became a part of the American justice system, American citizens who were the victim of a terrorist attack were not able to receive the restitution they needed so that they could properly recover from such a traumatic ordeal.
8. Provides Safety to Citizens
Not only were the victims forced to go without the correct compensation, but families who had lost a loved one in a terrorist attack were also left without funding. This was especially problematic for families who had suffered the loss of their primary bread winner due to the actions of a terrorist cell.
9. Less Impact to Businesses
Businesses whose revenues had taken a major hit as a result of terrorist attacks, or even the implied threat of a terrorist attack, are no longer left holding the bag. The enhanced funding that the Patriot Act offers to the victims of terrorist attacks and their family members is also afforded to business owners.
10. Expansive Titles and Directives
The Patriot Act was drawn up quite carefully, with several different sections that clearly outline a variety of potential scenarios. These sections, which are also known as titles to those who are familiar with the Act, give deeper context to the provisions listed in the Patriot Act.
11. Americans Can Gain Deeper Connections
By taking a closer look at these titles, American citizens are able to gain a deeper understand of the new powers that have been vested in various government entities. Increased surveillance and investigation capabilities are not the impetus for the Act, they are merely the tools used to ensure the continued safety of the American public.
12. Checks and Balances in Place
The Patriot Act contains all of the same checks and balances that the American public has grown accustomed to seeing in their government documents. These checks and balances ensure that none of this newly distributed power is able to become corrupted by any sort of outside forces.
List of Cons of The Patriot Act
1. Lack of Effectiveness
The Patriot Act’s overall effectiveness has come under fire on many occasions and it has not always been well received. There are also who believe that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were an isolated incident. The Patriot Act’s detractors are under the belief that the reason we haven’t had further terrorist attacks is due to the nation’s military might, not any new acts that have been written.
2. Waste of Vital Resources
Not only does the Patriot Act allocate precious resources to tracking citizens of America, during a time period when government spending has been roundly criticized, but the Patriot Act also allows for the tracking of United States citizens who have decided to move overseas. This is considered to be a gross misuse of government funds by those who do not support the Patriot Act.
3. To Much Authority Given to Government
Many believe that the prevention of terrorist attacks is able to take place without handing sweeping authority to the government to essentially investigate anyone that they see fit. Since there is no way to quantify whether the Patriot Act prevented a follow up attack, these debates will continue to rage on.
4. Unlawful Imprisonment
The Patriot Act allowed for the existence of Guantanamo Bay, a moment that may end up going down in infamy. Even those who supported the existence of Guantanamo Bay have been forced to admit that imprisoning those who were suspected terrorists without giving them due process was not what the Patriot Act intended to accomplish.
5. Unlawful Detainment
In the months and years immediately following the September 11 attacks, many citizens, both American and foreign, were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for reasons that were not always clearly evident. Some of these prisoners were later proven to have no ties to terrorist cells of any sort.
6. Lack of Rights for Counsel
For a country that prides itself on fair legal processes and calls itself the land of the free, these practices seemed quite unjust. People from several different regions of the world were unfairly detained there and in many instances were not even given a valid reason for their capture or allowed to retain a legal counsel.
7. Lack of Understanding
While the Patriot Act did include several sections that attempted to clearly define what would take place, there are many observers who were not able to gain a clear understanding as to what exactly the Patriot Act would to prevent future terrorist attacks from taking place on American soil.
8. Not Clearly Defined
Title II of the Patriot Act states that the government now has the rights to track any and all public records, even those that were once considered to be semipublic. Patriot Act detractors believe that there is no clear definition listed within the Act for what the government plans to do with such autonomy and power.
9. Leads to Fear and Hostility
When even a citizen’s library records become a matter of government concern, it is important for people who are skeptical about these regulations to have their fears assuaged. However, it became evident to Patriot Act skeptics that they would never have the opportunity to air their grievances. The emotional climate during the Patriot Act’s inception was one of fear and hostility towards different cultures, as opposed to one of understanding.
10. Lack of Proof in Effectiveness
Quite possibly the biggest concern of all for Patriot Act detractors is the ability it gives the government to track the actions of private citizens who have no previous involvement in terrorist related activities. The Patriot Act never provided any true assurances that the average citizen would not be tracked by their government.
11. False Accused Citizens
Obviously, there are reasons for that, as the United States government would not want any citizen who is a potential part of a terrorist cell to escape surveillance. But many cases have come up since the inception of the Patriot Act where citizens were falsely accused of being involved in terrorism, only for the government to realize their wrongdoing after it is too late.
12. Violates Freedoms
When even a United States citizen who is no longer living in the country is able to be tracked, this becomes an issue for people who value their freedom, as well as their privacy. It has been argued that the Patriot Act does not provide the same levels of legal protection for citizens, even those who end up being falsely accused.