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Mortality of the Patriot Act

Updated on July 8, 2013

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” ~ Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. government was desperate to react. Concerns over national security and breaches in federal intelligence came into question, which quickly lead to the passing of the Patriot Act. Today, nearly ten years after that dreadful event, some Americans believe the Patriot Act violates their civil liberties as citizens of the United States. Conversely, there are supporters who believe the government should have unlimited access over people’s privacy for the greater good of the country. Therefore, the question arises, is it morally valid to suspend the individual civil liberties of the whole in order to protect the nation’s security?

Pro Patriot Act

There are many advantages for expanding governmental surveillance and investigative powers. For instance, there’s the possibility of gaining invaluable information for future attacks, and also the potential for targeting terrorists who may be responsible for such attacks. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “The FBI does not have to demonstrate probable cause, only declare it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that library records may be relevant to an investigation.”

Supporters of such extreme measures believe in national security over privacy. They would much rather see a terrorist behind bars than protect their personal phone calls or bank accounts. Another claim is that the government wouldn’t investigate ordinary citizens, meaning that the law is exclusive to suspected criminals.

Question: Do these claims qualify as being morally right?

From the supporter’s perspective the answer is yes. The government’s involvement is warranted in order to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility (Department of Justice).

Pro Civil Liberties

For those who oppose the Patriot Act, the price of security comes at a large cost. The act represents an invasion of privacy and attacks the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

The 4th Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Clearly, the Patriot Act is in direct contrast to the Amendment, attacking certain unalienable rights as citizens of the United States. The Bill of Rights is purposely set up against such hypocrisy so that the government may not have control over one’s ‘god’ given rights. In fact, it is morally wrong for a governing power to breach a citizen’s civil liberties.

Counter Argument against Patriot Act Supporters

Supporters of the Patriot Act claim that government’s increased involvement is necessary in order to protect national security. However, there is nothing that supports such a bold statement. Everything is subject to interpretation and speculation. Since we, as citizens of the United States, do not have access to government records, there is no way for the “ordinary” citizen to determine if the Patriot Act prevents any terrorist attacks. Furthermore, the belief that it is morally right for the government to hinder a man’s privacy for the greater good of the country is absolute blasphemy.

In order to be free, people need assurance that they are free from everything, including persecution, tyranny, and privacy. Without such liberties, then how can anyone say that they are free? Where do you draw the line?

Perhaps the government should infringe on other civil liberties as well. There are situations where denying one’s right to vote or denying the right to print would potentially help protect national security. For instance, what if a terrorist became a citizen of the United States? And that terrorist votes on a particular bill or candidate that supports a terrorist cause. Would it not be advantageous to prevent that vote?

The answer is no. Absolute freedom trumps any scenario and to hinder or butcher those rights violates our constitutional right as citizens of the United States.

In conclusion, it is morally wrong to suspend and circumvent civil liberties for the greater good. No doubt, the September 11 attacks was a devastating event in American history. In order to protect national security the government is compelled to act. Although the Patriot Act enables possible leads and prospects for future terrorist attacks on the United States, it violates the very foundations from which this country was founded upon. In a “free” society, the government cannot trample on a citizen’s rights for any reason even it is for the greater good.

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    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      The Patriot Act is for the most part unconstitutional and now mostly unneeded. The anti-money laundering sections were long overdue but the rest were an overreaction. Thank you for this balanced and informative Hub, Drej2522.

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 

      7 years ago from east of the equator

      every representative takes an oath to support and defend the constitution. The Patriot Act is unconstitutional and everyone who voted for it broke their oath.

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 

      8 years ago from U.K.

      Another great hub Chris and I agree with you 'absolute freedom trumps any senario'. Thumbs up. :)

    • drej2522 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Paradise ~ Fight the power, baby! Fight the power! (winks) Thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi-Jinks profile image

      Hi-Jinks 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      The problem with the Patriot Act is that it allows other people do our thinking for us. Too many of us are not paying attention to what is going on around us. Too many are on cell phones or texting, or playing mind numbing games.

      Be aware.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Time to come up with another plan, that's right!

    • drej2522 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      mikenin ~ haha, yes yes...there are a lot of issues out there. But then again, I'm for 'small' central government, so my views are somewhat biased!

    • drej2522 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Waaaaaaaaaaave! Thanks! It's always nice seein your comments. And you can use my quotes all you want! (winks)

    • drej2522 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      JBeade ~ Thanks for your generous comments. Actually, this was just an essay I wrote for my ethics class so I figured, "Why not post it?" Anyway, I agree...something needs to be done. And honestly, I'm in agreement that Congress needed to act quickly after the 9/11 attacks. It's just time to re-think and come up with another plan.

    • mikenin profile image

      mikenin 

      8 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I just want to say that I agree with your assessment of the Patriot Act. I understand what they are trying to do, but it really does fly in the face of the foundations of this country. Quite simply it goes too far. I also think many other laws go too far, but I suppose that is for another conversation.

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 

      8 years ago from carthage ill

      power article political correct thanks

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 

      8 years ago from New York, NY

      interesting I just used your Thomas Jefferson quote on my new 'happiness" hub. . GMTA :) Definitely something to think about and the way you presented it here really brings up current issues that the crazy world is generating. Thumbs up on keeping it on the forefront here.... and I love the opening video!

    • JBeadle profile image

      J Beadle 

      8 years ago from Midwest

      Every terrorist act is not commited by Muslims.... c'mon see Oklahoma City as the poster child of this argument. Americans shoot Americans daily and in the 10's of thousand yearly. That is American shooting American there... most of those dudes not Muslim. I have a feeling AR would point out most of them were black and just add lets search all the blacks and the muslims. It becomes a need to search all of us which breeds its own form of ridiculousness.

      A good hub about a current issue with both sides highlighted. I'm glad the author comes down on the side of not going crazy with the racial profiling and searches, etc. Something probably needs to be done - but we need to think about it and how it melds safety against freedoms.

      very thought provoking hub

    • drej2522 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      You mean, search every single Muslim that goes through an airport? That sounds awfully prejudice to me. Besides, how would you determine if someone is a radical Muslim? Someone that looks middle-eastern?

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 

      8 years ago from America

      patriot act has some good stuff in it, except now we allow muslims to walk thru airports while little old ladies and small children remove clothing and shoes while being frisked, seems to me every single terrosist act commited was done by muslims, ..........so why don't we simply search them???

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