On March 9, President Bush signed the Patriot Act Reauthorization, but attached a signing statement in which he said that he would ignore specific mandates written in the bill that would give more judicial and Congressional oversight to agencies authorized use of the act. In late March, letters were written to Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General at the time, requesting to have the administration rescind the signing statement since they do not have force of law. Their argument was that the president could not change legislation that had been passed by Congress and say that he would ignore part of it that he did not agree with.
On December 10, , an appeals court upheld the ruling that parts of the Patriot Act were unconstitutional.
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In the ruling, the court stated that a statute must allow for a person of average intelligence to be able to read and understand the law. They found that certain parts of the act were too vague. They concluded that if the law was worded in a way that the average person could not understand, then the average person would not know if they were committing a crime Creative Commons, n.
While many believe that our terrorist threat from other countries is great, there is also the fear of terrorist attacks on the US by its own citizens. The Oklahoma City Bombing is a tragic example. In some cases, there is a need for the government to suspect an American citizen and do surveillance to protect the country from another such tragedy. The government has been doing espionage work for longer than most people think. It is not a new practice, but with the technology we have today, it is easier for authorities to collect intelligence. Even though they have this technology at their disposal that does not mean that the Constitution can be ignored in the name of protecting the US.
One example of the Patriot Act being used in such a way is in the case of Jose Padilla. He was a Puerto Rican born citizen who later in his life converted to Islam. As soon as he stepped off a plane in the United States he was detained.
He was then held in a military brig for three and a half years and was allegedly subjected to torture at the hands of US officials trying to elicit information from him. At that time, he was not charged with any crimes even though it was said there was overwhelming evidence against him. He was also cut off from all communication with his family and attorney Martinez, A case was brought on his behalf because he was jailed for so long with no charges filed against him and other issues that were in violation of his Constitutional rights.
The evening before his case was to be heard by the Supreme Court charges were finally filed against him. It is believed that this was only done so that the Supreme Court would not hear the case because the Bush Administration would have been found guilty of wrongdoing. A judge ruled that he was competent and he was eventually found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison Martinez, On Monday April 4th, the House of Representatives reviewed the Patriot Act and voted to extend it to the 8th of December, giving the power to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and many other federal agencies to still use roving wiretaps among other powers that overstep our constitutional rights.
February 28th, was thought to be the last day of the Patriot Act since no new legislation had been passed. With this extension, America waits for hearings to be held by the Judiciary Committee. When it came down to voting for the extension many Republicans voted for it and Democrats argued against the extension. However, what was a surprise to many was the fact that sixty-five Democrats voted for the extension of the Patriot Act.
One in particular, Democratic Representative C. Dutch Ruppersberger from Maryland, the highest ranking democrat on the Intelligence Committee, would like to see this extension all the way through to The ACLU believes that law enforcement agencies will take advantage of the bill and use of this power to trouble innocent members of the Muslim-American communities.
EPIC has spoken on more than one occasion to the Senate Judiciary Committee to require the Attorney General to report to Congress any unlawful investigations under the Patriot Act, yet this battle still continues today. The lives of both US citizens and immigrant are affected by the power of the Patriot Act.
For example, foreigners who seek education through grants, non-citizens looking to gain permanent residency, citizenship, visas and work permits in the United States are being scrutinized under the new requirement system of the Patriot Act. More stringent government standards and thorough background checks are just another obstacle created by the Patriot Act. At that time, misuse of surveillance powers by law enforcement agencies were uncovered, including the revelation that the FBI and foreign intelligence agencies had spied on over 10, U.
Today, citizens utilizing the internet in the privacy of their home feel a discomfort in what they do because their actions are subject to review if the government suspects they are engaging in anything terrorist related. For Internet users, it opens the door for widespread surveillance of web surfing, e-mails and peer-to-peer systems. Also put in the middle of the arguments are companies and public libraries that have to turn over any potentially incriminating documents accessed through their systems, at the request of federal law enforcement agencies, without giving any notification to their customers.
The Patriot Act has a greater purpose than can be imagined. I believe that certain aspects of the Patriot Act are feasible, but only with intensive oversight not only from Congress, but also from the Supreme Court.
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Congress can play a role by ensuring that the laws they pass do not go against the protections promised to Americans in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. The Supreme Court could continue to review cases to ensure that the Constitution is upheld even when it comes to cases that deal with suspected terrorists that are American citizens.
Our laws have made this country what it is today but it is feared that money maybe the downfall of our nation. The freedom of life, liberty and property has turned into greed.
Terrorist acts against the US terrify many Americans, but in many cases, money and power scares them more. The people vote to have government representation but the people need to be more involved with the decision making process. If you elect someone to office and they do not do the job correctly, it is up to us as Americans to make sure that those people do not remain in office. That can only be done if people get more involved in the political process and not just be satisfied with what goes on.
The way it is now, the Patriot Act goes against everything that this country stands for and deprives us all of our civil liberties. Some argue that it is necessary to maintain order, but you cannot give limitless power to a few and expect things to turn out well. Some Republicans and Democrats justified their support for the Act by claiming the Patriot Act led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Not all Republicans, however, supported the renewal. These were rejected before the vote began. Democratic efforts to include increased oversight and audits on the court orders were also rejected. The Justice Department testified to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in March that roving wiretaps and warrants for business records were used sparingly.
Justice Department testimony also claimed that the lone wolf authority had yet to be used.
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The civil liberties organization contended the Patriot Act had blurred the line between investigations of actual terrorists and those not suspected of doing anything wrong. The House of Representatives voted to , with 31 Republicans and Democrats opposed. The Senate approved the bill 72 to 23 votes.
Just as the Act divided lawmakers over issues of liberties, security, scrutiny, and safety, the Patriot Act divides American voters. Bill of Rights. The First Amendment, for example, guarantees freedom of religion, speech, and the press, the rights of peaceful assembly and petition. Under the anti-terrorism laws, the government may jail Americans and others indefinitely without a trial.
Australians have first-hand experience of this, as David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib know. The two Australian citizens, Habib and Hicks, were both transferred to U. They were detained at Guantanamo Bay. Canadians are particularly concerned that private information about citizens and businesses is no longer effectively protected by domestic laws, even though the protection of personal information has long been considered as a fundamental right in Canada under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The ongoing issue for Barack Obama, at least internationally, is that America is a member of the United Nations, having signed the prerequisite document the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter sets out the obligations of members and, among other matters, establishes the Security Council. This is a view that is problematic in parts of the Middle East and probably in parts of America.
The current measures are in place until June American exceptionalism remains in place for four more years, is it necessary for American security or does it just keep civil liberty breaches in place longer? She is a regular writer on national and international human rights issues and is the coeditor of Seeking Refuge: Asylum Seekers and Politics in a Globalising World Halstead Press, Sydney, Dr Coghlan regularly contributes on Online Opinion, Australia's premier ejournal of social and political debate.
Do you think that maybe our Zionist occupied government already had the Patriot Act ready for distribution before the first tower was ever struck? Have you seen the video of the controlled demolition of World Trade Center 7? We were supposed to be Patriots already, protected already, paid-for protection. Bomb Squad teams. All these yaks were and are on the payroll with a simple job to do: keep the people safe. The problem we as citizens need to face is that there are fates worse than death.