Nick Louisiana

The Patriot Act

The Patriot Act is a piece of legislation passed in response to the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States. The act gives government officials a legal way to probe citizen's private emails, phone records, internet activity, and financial information without the implementation of a government issued search warrant.

Dear Mr. or Madam President:

        Please do whatever is in your power to put an end to the injustice that essentially all Americans are subjected to in the Patriot Act. The USA PATRIOT act is an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (United States Department of Justice). The act was passed by Congress and the Bush administration in 2001 mainly in response to the onset of domestic terrorism after the 9/11 attacks. The act significantly broadens the powers of the federal government to deal with threats of terrorism. The concerning part of the act is principally found in Title II of the act. Title II clearly permits the government to order files from cell service companies, email sites, internet servers, and other communication providers with explicit information concerning with who and what an individual has been conversing about with another individual and the exact webpages a person has been visiting on the internet.

         The Patriot act is a blatant violation of our civil rights. The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states, "We as Americans have the right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause and an issued search warrant." The Patriot act gives government surveillance agencies the power to dig through citizen's confidential information (consisting of emails, phone records, financial information, and internet activity.) without the grant of a search warrant. Therefore the terms specified in the US Patriot are a complete violation of a right clearly issued to citizens of the United States by the Constitution (which takes precedent over all other laws).

        It would be a lot easier to overlook the fact that the Patriot Act is a textbook civil rights violation if the NSA and FBI were actually successful at uncovering terrorists and preventing the spread of terrorism under the stipulation of the Patriot Act, but they simply are not.  According to an article on the ACLU's official website written by Ateqah Khaki, the Patriot Act allowed for search warrant like documents called National Security Letters to be issued without judicial approval. These documents grant government workers the ability to probe personal information (including banking history, credit history, and phone/computer records). Khaki reports that from the year 2003 to 2006 the FBI issued 192,499 National Security Letters ultimately leading to only one terrorism conviction. The FBI referred fifty-three times as many criminals (for money laundering, immigration violations, and fraud) to prosecutors. This statistic not only shows how ineffective the act is at doing what it is designed to do, but it also sheds light on a potential example of political corruption. According to the report, federal surveillance agencies use the power vested in them by the Patriot act to ultimately convict people of immigration violations, fraud, and money laundering despite the fact that the act was designed specifically to counter terrorism. Maybe the act is continually backed by congress, despite it being ineffective at what it was designed for, simply because it gives surveillance agencies and easy way to catch criminals despite a blatant disregard to the constitution. The Patriot Act is ineffective at doing what it was designed to do, and the actions authorized by the bill are a waste of the tax payer’s money.

        A significantly sized portion of the population supports the Patriot Act. In fact, Congress recently voted to renew the act in 2015 by a frighteningly large margin. According to a report of Senate Vote 84 of 2015 on, the renewal of the patriot act received 71 “yes” votes and 23 “no” votes. Most supporters of the Patriot Act, aware of increasing global tension over the rise and threat of radical Islamic terrorism, justify the government’s actions by claiming that threats to national security take priority to our civil rights. I’m sure that the thousands of Japanese Americans put into internment camps following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would disagree. This argument of national security taking precedent over civil rights also doesn’t really hold up considering how ineffective we have been at catching terrorists since the implementation of the act. But hey, what do I know? I’m just one of the millions of Americans who consistently is denied their constitutional rights while their phone calls, internet activity, and emails probed and monitored on a daily basis.  It’s truly appalling that a civil rights violation affecting a vast portion of our population has been tolerated since 2001, and as an informed and concerned citizen of the United States I challenge you to end this blatant violation of our basic civil liberties.

Sources: (PDF patriot act summary) (4th amendment explanation)

Cedar Creek School

Cedar Creek School

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