By Alex Groberman, Mon, May 30, 2011

By Alex Groberman, Mon, May 30, 2011

The Patriot Act Pros and Cons

By Alex Groberman, Mon, May 30, 2011

The United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT ACT) is an act of the U.S. Congress signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001.

Essentially, it serves as a means of cutting down on the limitations that law enforcement groups were saddled with as they applied to searching telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records as it applies to individuals suspected of being involved in terrorism. Furthermore, it added onto the existing authority of the Secretary of the Treasury in how they could regulate financial restrictions. Finally, it gave immigration authorities more power to detain and deport immigrants who were suspected of plotting or being a part of terrorist activities.

Although parties almost-constantly battled regarding the positives and negatives of The Act, it re-emerged in the mainstream headlines in 2011 when President Barack Obama opted to sign a 4-year extension of three key provisions of it on May 26. These provisions included: 1.) roving wiretaps, (2) searches of business records and (3) surveillance of people suspected to be plotting terrorist acts who weren’t members of terrorist organizations.

Over the years, a very clear line in the sand has emerged between people in favor of The Act and all it means and others have come out vehemently opposed to it. Often, the varying opinions are the byproduct of political parties and the message a given group is trying to send about issues like war, privacy and government control.

People who are in favor of The Act like that it allows law enforcement to use surveillance against suspected terrorists, conduct investigations without outside interference and the ability to search business records in national security cases without a mountain of red tape. They also appreciate the fact that it increases the penalties for those involved in terrorist activities, that it evolves with the evolution of terrorist activities and that it allows law enforcing to get a search warrant whenever and wherever they need.

The staunch opponents of The Act, however, hate that it gives the FBI seemingly unlimited power over “any tangible thing,” that it absolves the authorities from having to have probable cause and that it expands the government’s right to search the private property of owners without notice to the owner.

Regardless of where you come down on the issue, by way of Obama’s extension, this is one political battle point that isn’t going away any time soon.