The Patriot Act is actually an acronym. It stands for “Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.” The goal of the Patriot Act was rather simple: to give Federal and law enforcement officials a greater level of authority when tracking, intercepting, or gathering communications and intelligence of suspected terrorists. It also allowed for greater communication in foreign intelligence gathering and provided the Secretary of the Treasury greater regulatory powers regarding foreign money and terrorism.
To create these additional safeguards, certain privacy considerations from US citizens were reduced or compromised. That has included the use of “secret” courts where warrants can be issued to obtain metadata from phone calls and internet activities of private citizens. Warrantless collection methods were also used in some instances.
So, has the Patriot Act helped to make the US safer? Has it prevented more acts of terrorism that would have taken place if this legislation had not been crafted and signed? Here are 8 cons of the Patriot Act to consider.
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 wastes 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 allows 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 leads 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 allows 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.