USA Patriotic act “is an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” (Fritscher, 2007). This act gives law enforcement agencies the power to do some things that never happened before like searching private records. Moreover, it allows more foreign intelligence meetings in America among other mandates as discussed in this paper. It also expands the circumspection of immigration policies especially on matters about expatriation of suspected terrorists and redefined terrorism to encompass domestic terrorism.
Generally, this act contains ten titles addressing the issues outlined above. However, there are some serious concerns about this act for apart from having strong points, it has outstanding weaknesses or demerits than any critic can pick out easily. There has been controversy especially concerning the events that surrounded the September 11 attacks given the short time it took before the Senate passed it.
Titles I and X fall under the Miscellaneous Provisions category where the issue of security is readdressed to incorporate domestic security agents in the fight against terrorism. Title X deals specifically with allowing security agents to access private information. Title II outlines surveillance procedures to deal among other things, with the individuals or any foreign power suspected to be carrying out surreptitious activities linked to terrorism. Title III deals with preventing, uncovering, and suing any international money laundering cases; hence, preventing terrorism financing. This saw a few amendments to Money Laundering Control Act of 1986. Section IV deals with border security whereby the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was amended to give different authorities dealing with immigration more investigative powers. Title VI addresses victims of terrorism together with their families. This entails compensating these victims and rebuilding fallen buildings and businesses. In Section VIII, terrorism is redefined to encompass domestic terrorism whereby acts like kidnapping fall under it. Finally, section IX tackles an improved intelligence system whereby authorities like the Director of Central Intelligence ensure that the United States Attorney General gets the right information.
Probably many people felt insecure after the September 11 attacks and they thought this act would root out terrorism; however, as the fears receded, people can see some faults in this act. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of this act?
This act enables the different security agents in and outside the United States of America to communicate easily for improved terrorism investigation and surveillance. This is plausible because it will be now easier to track terrorists and possibly unearth their plans before they strike thus leading to reduced incidences of such attacks. Additionally, improved investigation measures imply that justice will be delivered on time thus saving millions of people who are decrying the delayed justice on matters of terrorism.
Above all, this act considers victims of terrorism together with their families whereby there will be sufficient funding to compensate them. This is a positive move given the fact that many attacks leave most of the victims crippled unable to live productive lives (Maniscalco and Christen, 2002, p. 63). Families of the victims spend a lot of money on medical bills and increasing the state funding of the same was a good move.
Moreover, the act stipulates that there destroyed businesses and buildings would be compensated for by the state. Again, this was a move made in good faith considering that terrorist attacks target buildings mainly where thousands of businesses are located. The overall effect of this move is in the best interest of the public for people are “insured” against any misfortune of such kind.
The good motives of the act notwithstanding, this act vests unnecessary powers on security agents to probe the personal lifestyles of all Americans outside of the United States of America. This provision saw the opening of Guantanamo Bay in 2002 wherein many people from the world all over were detained without proper legal representations. Title II caused much fear in citizens because depending on what someone preferred to read in the library, he or she would be headed to Guantanamo Bay. Security agencies have the power to investigate what one read.
Secondly, the act allowed sharing of terrorist information between security agencies. Even though at face value this seems positive, it presents terrorists with a big loophole, which they can use to plan their attacks. Terrorists can easily monitor information between these security agents, know security status on the ground, and attack at their will. Ironically, what was meant to prevent terrorism, promotes it. With the unparalleled advancements in information technology, it is easy for terrorists to tap into important information about security systems in the country.
Finally, this act allows government to take some actions in secret and this undermines the constitution of the United States of America. The constitution requires the establishment of evidence of an imminent crime before investigating any person. This act goes against this requirement. Moreover, government dealings should be made public for the citizens to check the powers of executive. Without this constant check and balances, executive power may be used to violate human rights.
USA Patriotic act is unavoidable. It provides some strong points that are in the common interest of the public. Terrorism is not something Americans can afford to live with. It is sad to sit back and watch our parents, relatives and friends die at the hands of ruthless terrorists. Consequently, it is necessary for it seeks to tame and eliminate these acts. Funding victims of terrorism coupled with rebuilding fallen buildings is plausible. However, this act seeks to intimidate the people it seeks to protect. Invading personal space to probe what someone is reading, doing or saying to a friend in the pretext of fighting terrorism is unethical. Each American has the right to enjoy his or her rights as stipulated in the constitution. Unwarranted investigations are misplaced in contemporary times for it amounts to violating human rights. The way out of this quagmire is to revise the act to retain what fights terrorism and eliminate what intimidates the citizens.
USA Patriotic act came into being on October 26, 2001. It contains strong stipulations that seek to root out terrorism that has caused ripples in contemporary America. Improving security intelligence and compensating victims of terrorism together with reconstructing destroyed buildings is in the best interest of citizens. However, this act contains elements that would not only intimidate Americans but also promote terrorism itself. It also goes against the United States of America’s constitution on matters of regulating executive powers. According to this writer, the way out of this confusion is to review the act, retain what is helpful, and pluck out what is detrimental.
Fritscher, L. (2007). USA Patriotic Act: Pros and Cons. Web.
Maniscalco, M., & Christen, T. (2002). Terrorism Response: Field Guide for Law Enforcement. Special Edition Series. Boston: Pearson Custom Pub.