The USA Patriot Act- Do you think it is good or bad?The USA Patriot Act, while it was originally constructed for the safety of America and to fortify and strengthen it, violates many areas of the...

The USA Patriot Act- Do you think it is good or bad?

The USA Patriot Act, while it was originally constructed for the safety of America and to fortify and strengthen it, violates many areas of the constitution and grants the government practically unlimited power to do whatever they wish to terrorists or potential terrorists.

The USA Patriot Act expands government tactics to facilitate in recognizing terrorists and to obstruct terrorist acts by permitting arrests with no available warrants in hand and no legit reason, searches and seizures without informing the individual at all that they are going to be searched, even after their privacy has been compromised, wiretapping without the administration of the court, and secret confinement or taking people into custody in secret and not letting anyone know of the person’s whereabouts without proper supervision (Baldwin, Chuck, 2011, para. 2).

But if a terrorist is buying ingredients or reading books on how to obstruct a bomb, shouldn't the government be able to find out their plans, which would involve invading their privacy, but it could save lives...

So, what is your opinion and why do you think this?

Expert Answers
rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One problem with infringements on civil liberties is that they tend to build on each other over time through precedents. Once liberties are restricted in one context, it's not that hard to justify restricting them in another. So we have to be careful. I agree that the PATRIOT Act has not produced the effects many of its more outspoken opponents said it would, but I think it is, in many ways, our duty to resist such infringements, and always force politicians to justify them. So while I understand the necessity of restricting civil liberties, I also think that our existence as a democratic society means that we should subject all attempts to restrict them to very harsh scrutiny. What I am saying is that, in a very abstract way, our civil liberties should always be as expansive as is possible and practical at any given time.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While I understand why the Patriot Act was created, I think it is too open.  I think it can allow government officials far too much freedom and allows for injudicious use.  Citizens can easily have their rights restricted or see civil liberties cut short.  I understand the something like the Patriot Act may have been necessary, but I would certainly like to see it reformed.  Personally, I think it is far too broad and too easily abused.  It seems like officials can just claim the Patriot Act and get away with doing anything they want.  Things that were once strictly illegal are now permissible.  Citizens and law enforcement need to stand up and take notice of the precedent that is being set.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My main reaction to this is that you should not necessarily take something that Chuck Baldwin says as fact.  This is a guy from a very fringe political party who has a stake in saying inflammatory things.

10 years after 9/11, I don't really see any evidence that our civil liberties are being trampled on in any serious way.  We have not seen massive efforts by the government to wiretap us all or to find out what library books we all are reading.  I think therefore, that the passage you quoted above is more of a rant by an extremist than any real statement of how the Patriot Act has been used.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I share some of the ambivalence already expressed. In an ideal world, civil liberties should be very extensive, but we are not, of course, living in an ideal world.  I, too, am not aware of any infringement of my own liberties as a result of the Patriot Act, but I may be living in blissful ignorance.  The fact that we have not had another major terrorist attack in the past decade astonishes me; I had expected that we would have had one by now. Whether the fact that we have not had one is due in part to the Patriot Act is something I just can't say with any certainty.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I have read too much Orwell not to get goosebumps and feelings of impending doom from everything I learn about The Patriot Act. Honestly, I would like to believe that such extreme power will not be used or corrupted by government officials, but I don't find that likely.
lillymoon | Student

I personally do not know what to think on the Patriot Act. My gut reaction was that the Patriot Act was wrong, but honestly, it hasn't really effected me personally. But then again, has it benefited Americans? Does the good outweigh the bad? Should the government be able to weild this kind of power?

lillymoon | Student

Thanks. You have a very good point. I was just trying to present both extreme sides.

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