After the terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, the government saw the need for a legislation that would help protect the country from similar threats, thus the signing of the Patriot Act just after 43 days the World Trade Center crumbled. It was an environment where many Americans were overcome with fear and panic, and the act then became a regulation.
Within 13 years of its inception, there has been a great deal of debate about the act, where opposing sides are pushing strong opinions. Supporters believe that it has kept people safe and has discouraged further terrorist attacks, while detractors argue that it is unlawful and needs to be stricken from the record books. To have a good opinion on our end, let us take a closer look at the pros and cons of the Patriot Act.
List of Pros of the Patriot Act
1. It makes surveillance easier.
It is observed that the act has made surveillance much easier, allowing organizations and businesses to have a clear division of labor between individuals who have the ability to investigate terrorist activities. Surveillance used to be very awkward in the past, even for the authorities, but now, the Patriot Act has polished its rough spots.
2. It speeds up investigations.
Since the Patriot Act allows government surveillance to transcend natural and man-made barriers, investigations have become faster. Speed is an important key to any kind of investigation into terrorism, and the act allows for faster inquiries into potentially suspicious activities. Now, war criminals in the US territory could no longer hide behind the freedom granted to law-abiding citizens.
3. It improves law enforcement.
Before, law enforcement used to encounter huge barriers that hinder their investigations into terrorist activities. While many Americans believed that the government has complete autonomy to investigate any party that they think was involved in terrorism, it was quite difficult to do before the act was signed.
4. It ensures quick prevention of attacks.
If investigators uncover any type of planned attack or malfeasance, then they can strike quickly, preventing an imminent threat before it will become full-blown. For the government, it can get out of the situation and verify whether what they are monitoring is a true threat before proceeding.
5. It increases security measures.
Those who worry about the technology of the time-consuming precedence over proper investigation consider the Patriot Act necessary. As the means of communication continue to change constantly, there are also more investigations to be made. Now, potential terrorists are being limited with their ability to communicate with each other, so national security is improved.
6. It heightens safety for the citizens.
With this act signed, there will be no more victims to be forced to go without the correct compensation and no more families losing loved ones from terrorist attacks. It is important to note that families can suffer losses of their bread winners due to a terrorist cell’s actions.
List of Cons of the Patriot Act
1. It gives too much authority to the government.
Many Americans believe that terrorist attack prevention can still be done without giving a sweeping authority to the government to investigate any person whom they see fit. This argument could go on, since there is no proof whether the Patriot Act has prevented a follow-up attack.
2. It would waste vital resources.
The act not only allocated precious resources to tracking US citizens, during a time when government spending was roundly criticized, but also allowed for the tracking of citizens who moved overseas. This is seen as a gross misuse of public funds by opponents of the act.
3. It lacks effectiveness.
The overall effectiveness of the Patriot Act has faced criticism on many occasions and has not been received well ever since. Many people believe that the 9/11 attacks were an isolated incident, and detractors of the act think that the reason why we have not experienced further terrorist attacks is the country’s military power.
4. It would allow unlawful imprisonment.
The Guantanamo Bay is a brainchild of the Patriot Act, which is seen as a major factor for infamy to go down. Even to those who support the detention camp, they are forced to admit that incarcerating those who were suspected for terrorism without going through due process is not the objective of the act.
5. It can lead to fear and hostility.
When even a person’s library records become a government concern, it is just reasonable for people to become skeptical or fearful about this regulation. Also, it became obvious to skeptics of the Patriot Act that they would never have the chance to express publicly their grievances. This resulted to an emotional climate with fear and hostility since the act’s inception.
6. It lacks rights for counsel.
For a country that boasts of fair legal processes and calls itself “The Land of the Free”, the US, in the eyes of detractors, has implemented a practice that seems quite unjust. Some people were unfairly detained and, in many instances, were not even allowed to retain a legal counsel or given a valid reason for being captured.
7. It would allow citizens to be falsely accused.
There are obvious reasons for this, as the government would not want any person, who is potentially a member of a terrorist cell, to escape surveillance. However, there are many cases since the act’s inception where citizens were falsely accused of being involved in terrorist activities, only for the government to realize that they are wrong afterwards.
8. It violates freedom.
Considering that even an American citizen overseas can still be tracked, freedom is definitely a issue for people who really value it, as well as privacy. It has been argued that the act is not providing the same level of legal protection for citizens, even for those who are falsely accused.
Just like any other issue, the Patriot Act should be analyzed, evaluated and even adjusted to make it more effective and efficient. But as long as it is after securing citizens’ welfare, then it should be pursued. Based on the pros and cons listed above, what do you think?