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This paper analyzes whether personal security and safety is more important than civil liberties. It also formulates opinions based on individual ideas, facts and reasons. The paper also elaborates a plan to conduct views on the same and to share the findings and views of the survey.
The History of the USA Patriot Act
The U.S. Patriot Act was enacted immediately after the 9/11 attacks that took place in America. This was one of the ways that the American Congress came up with in order to prevent the future attacks and protect the country against such attacks. In other words, this tool was enacted or developed to fight terrorism. However, it has raised a lot of controversy among different people and quarters in America. There is a big question why it has raised so much controversy. However, it was enacted for the benefit of the American people and for the protection of the same (Klein 720) Thus, many critics have argued that this Act greatly violates the rights of particular civil liberties established and deemed as important by the American Constitution. State and local governments have totally rejected this act and have passed many resolutions against it. The big question is “Is safety more important than privacy?’’
National Security vs. Civil Rights
What is National security? It is implementation and development of legal codes with the intention of protecting the country against attacks, infrastructures, illegal foreign invasions and terrorism. It greatly helps to maintain security in the international trade and ensures immigration control. National security encompasses internal security. Which is more important? Is it civil rights or national security? Thus, the first step is to identify exactly what part of national security is referred to. If we are to refer to internal security, then it is clear that there is a big threat against people’s freedom (Lindehuer 197). On the other hand, if we base our arguments on civil rights, a citizen of the country has the right to his or her privacy as well. However, should the citizen of the country maintain his or her rights to privacy and risk the external and internal security?
The violation against civil rights in this instance is not about race or ethnicity, but the threat against most, if not all, American citizens. It is important to note that the U.S. Patriot Act does not only listen to terrorism conversations, but also monitors movements and plans of terrorists (Hartmann 522). In this way, the internal and external security organs can be a step ahead of the terrorist and can be in a better position to protect the country and people from terrorism. But, does it have to take away the right to privacy? Every American must have the right to privacy. However, this privacy could come at a very expensive security cost! When the federal government takes away privacy and freedom of expression from the American people, they are greatly violating their civil rights. However, if the authorities fail to take security measures to protect the country against terrorism, they put lives of American citizens in great danger. This is the point of controversy (Greenworld 144).
In the light of the above, it is evident that the rights of many Americans have been violated. This simply means that the Patriot Act has been used unfairly and illegally against American citizens. According to the survey carried out, it has been discovered that many individuals have been falsely accused, interrogated and deported. In most cases, individuals were accused of committing terrorist acts or intending to commit these acts (Goodman 522). Most of individuals were innocent. In this case, this is a very grave violation of people’s civil rights. If the right of freedom is taken away from a human being, then he or she is simply left bare or naked and empty.
Many critics have suggested that the Patriot Act should be revised. According to them, this Act was enacted under pressure. It was enacted at the time that the American people had just suffered a great loss as a result of a terrorist attack and there were mixed feelings. This means that at that very sad time decisions may have been made under emotional duress and thus were miscalculated. In this regard, decisions should be reviewed to prevent fixing of a problem with a problem. Is it possible to uphold internal and external security without seriously violating the civil rights of the American people?
Many other people support the Patriot Act. According to them, this Act is very effective for obstructing and intercepting terrorist activities and plans. The information gathered from the interception provides a legal tool for investigation and prosecution of terrorists. In this way, all American citizens are safe to some degree from a terrorist attack (Wolf 176).
Other Controversial Aspects of the Patriot Act
Some critics suggested that this Act was an opportunistic Act. It was not only criticized as unconstitutional, but also greatly violated the privacy of American people conversations. Does this means that the security authorities listen to conversations? Yes, the Act allows the security forces to listen to many conversations all aver America and from other parts of the world as well. This Act allows security agents to sneak into and peek into private conversations all over America. According to many Americans, this is a very serious violation of their civil and private rights. However, the threat of terrorism is not simply an aspect of prospect. A very serious issue not only threatens citizens of the country, but the whole world as well. Many Americans shudder with fear when they simply imagine a repeat of terrorist attacks. Does this call for serious measures? Does it justify the violation of the privacy of the American people? Well, the answer can be yes and no. This is because privacy is important similar to security. There is a big question: “To what degree is safety more important than privacy?’’
Another controversial aspect of the Patriot Act is the fact that it also affects immigration provisions. This Act allows that any alien, who is believed by the Attorney General to show a cause or intention of any terrorist act, should be apprehended and face indefinite detention. Many critics have strongly opposed this Act. They insist that this is the basic right deprivation unfair to immigrants to the country. They insist that this Act allows detention from secret evidence and the accused do not have any rights to defend them (Goodman 262). This does not only fall short of all American human standards, but also the process of justice and fairness. Does this mean that the Attorney General in the United States of America has the right to determine the fate and detention of immigrants? Does it mean that immigrants have no right to freedom and privacy? On the other hand, terrorists are not easily identifiable. They are very harmless immigrants. It is very difficult to actually identify a terrorist at first glance. This poses a very serious risk to the security of the American people and the whole country. Does this mean that the Patriot Act is in some aspects justifiable? Should immigrants have to suffer this humiliation and unfair treatment at the cost of fighting terrorism? (The U.S.A Patriot Act, Sec. 814).
In the light of the above, there should be a balance between security and privacy. Security should be improved, but not at the expense of privacy. The American people should not be forced to sacrifice their freedom to uphold security. Defending the country does not mean to contribute to the violation of private and civil rights. This is a true meaning of democracy. However, the safety and protection of American citizens must always come first. It is better to be safe than sorry. The American government must ensure internal and external security at all costs. Sometimes it may mean the violation of some private rights and liberties. Should the American citizen pay this price for security? What is more important safety or privacy? To some degree, both safety and privacy are important (Krugman 352). The U.S. Patriot Act should be revised to encompass all concerns of the American people and respect their civil rights. In this way, the security of the country will be upheld and the rights to privacy respected.
Safety and privacy are very essential aspects in lives of the American people. It is important to be safe and to have the right to privacy to fully enjoy life. However, the Patriot Act allows for the violation of privacy. This is very unfortunate. On the other hand, the American authorities are simply doing this for the common good of the American people.