The Patriot Act

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Since its enactment by President Bush in October of 2001 to prevent possible recurrences of 9/11, the Patriot Act has had its constitutionality called into question multiple times, mainly for its supposed violation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. The provision Section 203, information tapping, allows for the sharing of information between the CIA and the FBI. Though supporters claim that this provision breaks down the “wall” between two interconnected sectors, critics argue that the so-called “wall” never barred reasonable communication between the two. However, now with Section 203, the CIA and the FBI can now have unrestrained information-sharing, which will likely archive large amounts of information about innocent civilians. Next, provision Section 206 had also come under fire for allowing wiretapping of potential terrorists and anyone in contact with them, up to two degrees of separation. Critics of this provision claim that it invades the privacy of citizens who may only have had minimal contact with the suspected terrorists. Similarly, Section 218 allows investigators to wiretap someone if suspected to be working for a foreign power or for other “significant purpose[s]”. Critics argue that the broadness of this parameter allows for essentially any foreign intelligence wiretaps, thus violating international laws and the privacy of individuals. Reports state that the U.S. intelligence service is greater than that of every other country combined. Assuming that information is kept for the health of America, Sections 203, 206, and 218 would all be tracking information or public use. As a result, this violates the Fifth Amendment by taking private property for “public use, without just... ... middle of paper ... ...Court, which is a violation of the First Amendment. In Doe vs. Gonzalez, however, a regional court actually struck down the National Security Letter provision of the Act that issues the gag order along with the subpoena. Though the government has attempted appealing it, a Supreme Court justice indirectly supported this decision by ruling against vacating a judgment. Eventually, the appeal was dropped and this was considered a victory for the First and Sixth Amendments, since the gag order would no longer hinder freedom of speech and right to legal counsel. The Patriot Act’s various provisions have generated much controversy over its unconstitutionality, most notably the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. Court rulings to resolve these violations of amendments are few and most likely will not occur until the American fear of terrorism passes.

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