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Matthew Lewis
CRN 80990-P-1
History 2112 – American History 2
11/27/2018

The USA Patriot ACT
Has it helped the United states fight against terrorism or did it give the government the right to violate and impede our first amendment rights?

On September first, two thousand and one the United States was attacked by an Islamic terrorist group called Al Qaida. This attack would not only mark the start of the American war on terrorism, but it would lead to the creation of the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act or “The Uniting and Strengthening of America by Providing the Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”( USA Patriot Act) would be signed into law on October 26, 2001. In the Act it states that it was, “to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.” (USA Patriot Act page 1). Though the Act states that it is to fight terrorism, it also has allowed the government to violate the 1st amendment rights of Americans. It allowed the government to spy on the American people through tracking their internet use and listening in on people’s phone calls for example. Therefore, even though the USA Patriot Act has helped fight terrorism it has also violated people’s privacy and first amendment rights.
One of the many things that the USA Patriot Act has given the FBI and local officials the ability to fight terrorism. The Act not only gave them new tools to track terrorism, but it has allowed law enforcement to prevent terroristic attacks like the one on 9/11. John Ashcroft stated, “the Patriot Act has been our laser-guided weapon to prevent terrorist attacks” (Gale 195-196), when he addressed Congress about the progress of the Act in 2004. He goes on to state how act has “integrated and coronated” (197), the FBI and local law enforcement, showing congress how fundamental the act has been in the fight against terrorism. It has given the United States government a way to defend the United States from terrorism by not only supplying new and advanced technology to law enforcement, it also has unified both intelligence agencies and local law enforcement. The act has allowed the Government to fight terrorism both internationally and at home.
The United States Patriot Act also has helped with the protection of the United States boarders. After the 9/11 attack, many Americans started to question the security of the boarder of the United States of America. The act gave “an additional $50,000,000 each to the Immigration and Naturalization Services and the United States Customs Service for purpose of making improvements in technology for monitoring the Northern Borders and acquiring additional equipment at the Northern Border” (USA Patriot Act section 402), to help secure and prosses how and what comes in to the United States. It allowed for the northern border to not only become secured with new and better technology, but it was one of the many changes to how people entered into The United States.
As well as helping secure the northern border it helped increase airport security, how passports are checked and the technology that is used to secure the airports and planes. The attack of 9/11 was caused by a group of men that where supporters and members of the terrorist group Al Qaida who hijacked multiple planes. Though some of the planes where brought down before they could reach their targets, two planes hit the Twin Towers and with that came the death of hundreds of innocent men, women and children. As part of the United States Patriot act it enforced that airport security would “check for the implementation of precautionary measures to prevent the counterfeiting and theft of passports” ( sec. 417). This would help security in the United States airports prevent another attack like the one on 9/11. The act also brought new technology for airport security to utilize. For example, the x-ray and metal detectors that detect bombs and other weapons which could be used for terroristic attacks. The act improved the way airport security fights terrorism and allowed Congress to pass laws like the Immigration and Nationality act to improve the process by in which someone can become an American citizen.
Another way that the act has impacted immigration is by protecting the rights of people born of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. In section 102 of the Patriot Act Congress states “Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and Americans from South Asia play a vital role in our Nation and are entitled to nothing less the full rights of America” (USA Patriot Act sec.102). By putting this into the Act, congress attempted to protect descendants of Middle Eastern and South Asian culture from being discriminated against.
Finally, the United States Patriot act helped strengthen the policies of Money Laundering in American Banks and Credit Unions. Money Laundering is defined as the act of trying to make illegal money or “Dirty Money” look like legal or “Clean Money”. The Patriot Act not only strengthens the Money Laundering act of 1986 and the Bank Security Act, it also allows the Banks and Credit Unions of America fight terrorism in a financial way. The act states that to help fight terrorism Banks and Credit Unions are ” to increase the strength of the United States Measures to prevent, detect, and prosecute international money laundering and the fight of terrorism” (Patriot Act, sec.302). Because of the act’s strengthening policies to help fight Money Laundering financial institutions can now help stop terrorism. It allows financial institutions to detect and prevent the use of money that could be used to support terrorist groups like Isis and Al Qaida. This would cause these groups to lose funds that they would use to supply their supporters and help bring an end to the war on terrorism. The act also helps financial institutions detect and protect Americans from identity theft and bank fraud. It not only gave financial institutions a way to help fight terrorism, but it gave them the ability to also help protect Americans identities.
Although the United States Patriot Act has helped fight terrorism both at home and overseas it has also done harm to the American people. The most famous example of this is the First and Fourth Amendment rights. The Patriot Act gives government agencies the ability to violate Americans right to freedom of speech and the American right to privacy. The act, though it was supposed to help Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans it brought discrimination made it hard for them to live in America.
The Fourth Amendment states “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall no be violated” (Bill of Rights). It gives the American people the right to privacy unless a warrant has been issued to look for a specific item. however, in 2007 the FBI tried to use the Patriot Act to defend the act of violating Brandon Mayfield’s constitutional rights.
In May 2004 the FBI mistook a set of fingerprints on a bag and arrested Brandon Mayfield, the arrest was for involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombing. After the arrest Mr. Mayfield challenged the FBI causing them to search his house and office. In the court hearing a judge from a distinct judge from Oregon ruled ” that provisions of the act dealing with physical search electronic eavesdropping were unconstitutional”(www.jurist.org). This shows that because of the Patriot Act the FBI has too much freedom and the case proved that it allows the FBI to violate American rights.
The First Amendment states that “congress shall make no laws… abridging the freedom of speech” (Bill of Rights), however; it has also been violated by the Patriot Act as well. The most famous way is by recording phone calls and messages of every American in the United States. Although they have the right to record these types of communications , it is only meant to be used for terroristic threats only, but not twenty-four seven. However, they continuously record private messages that people have with each other violating their freedom of speech and press. For example, if you send a tweet that the United States government disagrees with, they can have your account confiscated and the post taken down. It violates your constitutional right of free press and therefore your freedom of speech.
Even though the act is supposed to protect the rights of people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, they were still discriminated against and some put in jail for crimes they never committed. Before the attack they were already being discriminated against, but the attack and the Patriot Act only worsened how they were treated. According to www.ispu.org many financial institutions “used extreme interpretations of the patriot act to justify blacklisting Muslim accounts” (Ahmed and Senzia). Not only did they get attacked by the financial institutions they where also attacked by the government. Many would be arrested because the government thought they were terrorist, and many would end up in prisons like the Naval detention camp on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Even today there are hate crimes against the Arab Americans. According to www.pewresearch.org in 2016 there were more than ” 307 hate crimes”( Kishi) committed against the Arab American population. That’s more that the amount of hate crimes committed in 2001 after the 9/11 attack. More than 17 years later and there are still hate crimes against people that have done nothing to deserve it.
In conclusion, though the United States Patriot Act has done some good for America, it has also negatively affected America as well. Though the Act has helped protect America from terrorism, it has largely affected the discrimination of Arab Americans as well as violate Americans First and Fourth Amendments rights. It has allowed the United States to fight terrorism at the cost of the freedoms given to all Americans since the Revolutionary War.

Work cited Page

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