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Do you think the USA Patriot Act is good or bad?I am doing a research paper for my...

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lillymoon | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:12 PM via web

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Do you think the USA Patriot Act is good or bad?

I am doing a research paper for my government class and I need to interview some people. I would like people's opinions of the USA Patriot Act so I can have some different perspectives on the it. I already have the general facts, I just need some strong opinions and reasons behind them. Thank you!!

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 26, 2011 at 10:07 PM (Answer #2)

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This one will be moved to the "Discussions" section as quickly as possible.  Yeah, this one will be an interesting discussion...

In the final analysis, I cannot help but feel that the discussion of the Patriot Act as "good" or "bad" is going to lie in what criteria individuals value.  I don't think that it's a bad thing to want to strengthen intelligence gathering options and the capacities of the federal government.  Certainly, one could argue that one of the benefits of the Patriot Act was to unify the different branches of the government in order to share and disseminate intelligence gathered on the issue of homeland security.  The unification of immigration branches and law enforcement branches would be one example of this.  At the same time, the intangible focus of ensuring that the government present itself as an agent where action can be taken and embraced within the fight against those who wish harm upon the nation would be another instance where the Act can be seen in a positive light.

Yet, I can also see the other side of this argument in suggesting that the Act operates under a fundamental assumption that the ideals of freedom and Constitutionality are incompatible with safety.  I think that a real persuasive argument can be made that one of the drawbacks of the Act is that it links safety with the suspension of individual liberties.  One need only to examine the invocations of the Patriot Act in terms of summoning and monitoring librarians and reading habits of the public, or web browsing habits being open to scrutiny by the police, and the suspension of prisoners' rights under the Act as well as the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys who held opposite views of those in the position of power, as well as the invocation of the act against the homeless as all examples of how the Act has been abused.  Certainly, the Act made evident that those in the position of power believed that the ideals and Constitutional background of America can be sacrificed given the current context.  The implications of this are tremendous in that the proponents of American exceptionalism, who are usually the same people who advocate the Patriot Act, end up undermining America's own sense of exceptionalism with the presence of legislation that detracts from the nation's own Constitutional exceptionalism.  In this, some strong arguments can be made.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 13, 2012 at 7:34 AM (Answer #3)

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My opinion of the Patriot Act is that there are some good things about it, but there are major problems too. Most people do not really understand the power the government has been given. The secret warrants and secret courts and the ability to listen in on any phone call or read every e-mail bothers me the most.

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