Homeland Security Vs Civil Liberties Patriot Act

Word Count: 1557 |

A Power Struggle:

Homeland Security Vs. Civil Liberties

On September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and
crashed two into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and the last plane
landed in a field outside Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people died from this atrocious
event that left the country in pandemonium. The Bush administration felt feeble and
needed to obtain a better grasp on the country. Within weeks of the attack, attorney
General, John Ashcroft packaged an old FBI wish list as the USA Patriot Act and
demanded Congress pass it without discussion for fear of another “Pearl Harbor-like
attack.” (Gerdes 42). The Bush Administration insisted that it needed more “tools” that
would better allow it to keep tabs on the nation. The government took advantage of the
country’s fear in order to gain more power, and gave Americans false hope that the
government was looking out for their well being. They played on this fear by targeting
aliens unjustly because they were not US citizens and were punished by deporting them
on a mere suspicion of being involved with a “terrorist organization” (Gerdes 46). The
Patriot Act defies civil liberties and is one of the most unconstitutional acts present in out
government today.
The Bush Administration had the intelligence tools set in place to prevent the
catastrophe of September 11th from transpiring but neglected to use them. (Gerdes 63).
They had the national security set in place that would have been effective if it had been
used properly. Instead, one of the most devastating events in American history took place
on September 11, 2001. The government instilled fear in American citizens and Congress
to gain their support for a clearly corrupt act. The Bush Administration deceived
Congress by using fear tactics to persuade Congress into allowing them to produce such a
preposterous act. Bush convinced Congress that with the use of the Patriot act he could
help enhance national security by keeping tabs on prominent forces in the US
government, like lawyers and other government officials. He also beguiled the citizens of
the US by instilling fear stating that the Patriot Act would find and penalize anyone
suspicious of any illicit activities (Trandahl).
In times when national security was at its highest, many citizens are willing to
give up civil liberties in order to have an advanced homeland security. On the other hand,
those who are aliens to this country are often targeted based on their race, and sacrifice
the most. They are often accused guilty of crimes just with mere association to a “terrorist
group.” The only problem is, there are many groups that have no association to any
terrorist organization that do have “terrorist-like qualities.” For example the ANC, The
African National Congress, the IRA the Irish Republican Army and the Northern Alliance
of Afghanistan could all be considered terrorist organizations for the fact that they have
because of their involvement in a civil war or crime of violence (Trandahl). So any alien
that is involved directly, indirectly, supports, finances any of these organizations could be
deported without given an opportunity to speak out against these allegations (Gerdes 75).
The Patriot Act violates civil liberties by suppressing the speech of the press. The
Bush administration cut off all normal access to government information, clearly
violating the first amendment by suppressing freedom of the press. The Patriot Act
requires courts to issue warrants based on mere skepticism that the order is in connection,
with a terrorism investigation. In other words if a government official was suspicious of a
certain group or person, he could investigate their house or headquarters with a simple
warrant from the court. Also the government aimed legal right to maintain surveillance
without summons, subpoena, or warrant. While under investigation they are ordered to
say nothing to coworkers or family members and if they do they are ordered to the tell the
Government to be put on file (Gerdes 78). Our nation has a history of suppressing
individuals who speak out against the government, during the Civil war, Abraham
Lincoln used the writ of habeas corpus to suppress thousands of Americans that spoke ill
of the Union and were later arrested (Gerdes 82). During World War I 10,000 residents
were imprisoned for their religion or political view, and were beaten until they admitted
to the allegations presented before them, whether they were guilty or not. Through this
over five hundred aliens were deported. Later, during the Cold War, leaders of the
American-Communist party were prosecuted and imprisoned under the Smith Act for
their political beliefs. (Gerdes 83) Thousands of Americans were requested to speak about
their own and others political views and beliefs. Those who refused to testify were
arrested, and in some cases employees were forced to sign oaths of loyalty, and if they
failed to do the opportunity to loose their jobs was left wide open. (Gerdes 79) In a
different story the FBI called a college student for displaying an “un-American poster” in
her own home. The subject matter of the poster was of Bush‘s stand on capital
punishment while Governor of Texas (“American Civil Liberties“). In a different case
Federal agents spent hours searching a woman’s car who was suspected of creating “anti-
American” pieces of art. (“American Civil Liberties”) This just proves that the Patriot act
is a complete joke, and waste of the Government’s time. Instead of spending it looking
for “un-American art” they could be better spending that time on how to enhance our
homeland security. Some would argue that the Patriot Act is beneficial for the
Government for various reasons. One could be that it caused President Bush to come up
with alternatives to enhance our national security and updating our technology standards.
Terrorists had us beat when it came to latest forms of technology when September 11 hit
and this event caused much turmoil but it opened our eyes to the fact that we need to be
ready at all times for an attack. Unfortunately is not enough, US citizens should not have
to buy our national security with our civil liberties. They are instated there for a reason
and are not meant to be sacrificed in a case where the Government scares you into giving
them away. Why have them at all if they can be forfeited so easily to the Government
without any of our consent? Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote says it best, “Those who
would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither
Safety nor Liberty.” The “Safety” that the President and his administration reassures us
with, is nothing but false hope, and this act only allows them to feel as though they posses
a better grasp on the nation but in actuality, they are doing no such thing. One might say
that another beneficial side of the Patriot Act is that is forces our homeland security to act
and communicate as one. It causes them to keep in contact at all times and do be able to
get in contact with one another within seconds in case of national emergency. But why
couldn’t this have happened with out the Patriot Act? Why couldn’t this have happened
before September Eleventh? If our technology and our communication had been more
advanced and unified as one, could we have prevented this horrific event in from occurring in the first place? Why does it takes a terrifyingly tragic event to open the
Government’s eyes as to what our needs are, as far as homeland security goes? Another
point could be brought up about the press ant say that they have been cut out from
government information because they are only trying to tarnish the image Bush
Administration, which makes them an unreliable source to begin with. But in reality it is
beneficial because it opens up all sides to an argument, and the press have the right to
post what they want in the papers because it would violate the first amendment if the
Government restricted such rights.
The Patriot Act is one of the most unconstitutional acts prevalent in
the government today because it breeches civil liberties by violating the first amendment,
and by suppressing the freedom of press and freedom of speech. It unfairly targets
immigrants, and infringes many constitutional rights merely because they have
immigrated to the United States. The Government also instills fear in US citizens, and
persuades them to believe that if they give up “some” civil liberties they can gain national
security. The is false and only allows the Government to do what they want when it come
to our civil rights. They can revoke them and give them back whenever they fancy,
without us ever having any say in the matter. It gives them the right to withhold secret
information, and pertain in secret court hearings that are never recorded and
are kept private from US citizens. The Patriot Act serves no beneficial purpose in
our Government, and only justifies the Bush Administration’s power struggle over the
nation.

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