It's Time for Reform

The USA PATRIOT Act has been at the forefront of our national security debate since it was passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This legislation sped through both the House of Representatives and the Senate with little debate in an overwhelming feat of bipartisan cooperation. The PATRIOT Act gives increased power to law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism at the expense of some of our civil liberties. One question that should be asked eleven years after the 9/11 attacks is-What parts of the PATRIOT Act do we actually need?

This act is credited with thwarting dozens of terrorist attacks since its introduction. The PATRIOT Act helped to further modernize our anti-terrorism laws and capabilities in the wake of increased worldwide technology usage. An example of this is Title III of the legislation. This provision seeks to prevent terrorist groups from receiving funding by requiring banks to monitor for money laundering. It is so easy in this modern world for anyone to donate money to a cause, and some people choose to support terrorists. Title IX is arguably the most logical clause of the PATRIOT Act since it promotes the sharing of essential intelligence between government agencies. The 2001 attacks could have been prevented if the NSA had passed on known information about the activities of the bombers to other law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. There are many other similar provisions of this act that helps to keep America safe, but at the same time, other provisions infringe on our civil liberties.

The PATRIOT Act infringes on people’s right to privacy through covert wiretapping and surveillance. In light of this, it is also important to note that this infringement is necessary in order to protect the larger population. Covert surveillance is often needed to monitor and apprehend suspected terrorists. The right to privacy is one of our civil liberties that we have to sacrifice in the name of security. We need to realize that we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

There are other provisions of the this law that goes too far. The PATRIOT Act gives the government the power to detain terrorist suspects without charges and deny them access to lawyers and the due process of the law. These parts of the law infringes upon the rights are guaranteed under the Constitution. These rights are definitely more important than national security and should not be sacrificed. This is some of the language that should be removed from the PATRIOT Act.

The USA PATRIOT Act should be reformed to respect rights that are guaranteed to us under the Constitution. Many provisions of this act helps to protect the United States from terrorist attacks like 9/11 and should be kept in place. It is never acceptable to sacrifice our constitutional rights in order to protect against terrorists.