The act entails the coming together of Americans in the fight against terrorism. The act has undergone several amendments through additional new statutes with the major aim of preventing future terrorist attacks on United States territory. The USA Patriot Act is also referred to as public law 107-56 under statute 115, 272-402. Patriot (Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act was attached to H.R 2975 and presented in the house of representatives on 2nd Oct 2001 (Abele, 2005:42). The name USA (Uniting and Strengthening America) Act was appended to S. 1510, and then presented to the senate on 4th Oct 2001. The last bill, H.R. 3162, which had the combined name “USA PATRIOT Act,” passed the house on 24th Oct, passed the Senate on 25th Oct, and was signed by the president on 26th Oct. This current bill is known as Patriot Act that prevents the external attack from terrorists.
In a meeting held on 19th Sept. 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft introduced his proposed list of new and amended statutes to congress and urged them to approve it by 21st Sept. 2001. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), chairperson of the senate judiciary committee, and James Sensenbrenner(R-Wisc), chairperson of the house of the representative’s judiciary committee, and their colleagues later wrote the bill in their own versions, which developed to S.1510 and H.R 2975. The latter was introduced on 2nd Oct. 2001 and passed by the house on 12th Oct. 2001. S. 1510 was introduced on 4th Oct. 2001 and passed the Senate on 11th Oct. 2001 by a vote of 96 to 1 (Yager, 2009: 110). The final bill H.R 3162 was brought before the house on 23rd October and passed the house on 24th Oct by a vote of 357 to 66 and later passed the Senate on 25 Oct by a vote of 98 to 1, the president signed it on 26th Oct. 2001. After the president’s signing, the Patriot Act of 2001 became a law that stimulated the opening of the Guantanamo Bay camp in the year i.e. 2002.
Advantages of Patriot Act
The patriot act rationalizes communications between various agencies that may work together to execute terrorists. It also facilitates the easier and less unwieldy method of investigations and surveillance (Yager, 2009: 102). The act further avail funds to those individuals who fall victim to terrorist attacks and also their families as well as restructuring of buildings and infrastructure destroyed by terrorism. This has worked well in consoling the victims and their families by giving them the much-required support. The act is carved up into ten different units referred to as titles with each having segments that clarify the (title) contents. The titles and sub-sections outline new powers that are given to the federal government to conduct investigations of terrorist actions. It also helps to maintain checks and balances put in place to prevent abuse of power.
The provision of the Patriot Act was structured carefully in regard to events that triggered September 11 attacks. It was observed that bureaucratic red tape averted surveillance activities and information diffusion that could have caused the attacks (Young, 2003: 50). The effort was to ensure that if another attack was planned, the government would have the power to counter it.
The Act facilitated the application of a mechanism for tracking the terrorists without squashing the citizen’s civil liberties and also to show the American people that the federal government would search and execute the culprits if the need arose but not because it could do so (Young, 2003:54). Patriot Act guarantees that law enforcement is in place to ensure that there are adequate tools to fight terrorism within USA territory. The main goal of the supporters of this act is to guarantee the safety of the citizens in the future.
It also established several reporting and notification mechanisms as well as brought transparency regarding the application of authority efficiently (Abele, 2005: 45). For example, section 6002 of the foreign intelligence surveillance court (FISC) amendments Act of 2004, P.L 108-458, call for the attorney general to report to the appropriate committees on matters outlining the use of various FISA authorities, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions, and any other related issues for each preceding six month period.
Congress requested additional reporting requirements by reauthorizing and making many USA patriot Act permanent in 2005. A good example is section 114 of the USA Patriot Act that enabled Congress to issue a fixed delay notice period of search warrants to a maximum of 30 days after the denial of the warrant. It also required the issuing judge to notify the administrative office of the United States courts of an application for a delayed search warrant, whether the warrant was either denied, granted, or modified and the crime outlined in the application or warrant (Abele, 2005: 49). Further, it expects the director of the administration office to avail annual report to Congress summarizing the use of delayed notice warrants.
Most citizens believe that the Act is so painstaking. The Act presents far-reaching power to government bodies to keep an eye on personal demeanors for both the populace identified as potential suspects as well as residents living in the United States and those in foreign countries. After the passage of the Act, Guantanamo Bay was opened in 2002 and imprisoned many people from different nations with no prior reason.
People didn’t know how the government was planning to apply the rules under the Patriot Act. The most contentious proviso of the patriot Act was title II since it permitted unexpected supervision of semi-public documentations, such as library records. Surveillance activities portrayed a low level of accountability; this was because of the invasion of individuals’ privacy (Ball: 2004, 81). This is a violation of human rights, which is well outlined in the Constitution of the United States. Excess force should not be applied with an excuse of flushing out the suspects but correct ways of handling the same should be observed at all times.
Though the Patriot Act was enacted to protect the welfare of citizens against terrorist attacks, it should not violate the rights of the suspects. The emergency of the detainee camp of Guantanamo Bay should not be used as torturing ground for the suspects. The federal government in the USA has a duty to prevent its citizens residing in the United States and also those living in foreign countries. Patriot Act should be reinforced where necessary to prevent the occurrence of a similar attack experienced on September 11; otherwise, terrorists will hit back on the innocent citizens in the United States. Other countries should follow suit so as to curb the terrorists’ evil acts.
Abele, P. (2005). A User’s Guide to the USA Patriot Act and Beyond. New York: University Press of America.
Ball, H. (2004). U.S.A. Patriot Act of 2001. Louisville: ABC-CLIO publishers.
Yager, L. (2009). Loren USA Patriot Act: Better Interagency Coordination and Implementing. Oscoda: DIANE Publishing.
Young, C. (2003). Understanding Water and Terrorism. Birch cross cottage: Burg young publishing, LLC.