The Patriot Act is similar to our previous discussion on Judicial Review in one simple way- is grants too much power, and power without limitation. The Patriot Act supplies a very loose definition of terrorism. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-52) expanded the definition of terrorism to cover “”domestic,”” as opposed to international, terrorism… “A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act “”dangerous to human life”” that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to: (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping. Additionally, the acts have to occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and if they do not, may be regarded as international terrorism.” Simply put, our law enforcement agencies are granted the right to pursue individuals for criminal activity if it is deemed a potential act of terrorism. This has translated to quite an abuse of power of the years. Many would argue that this act has given law enforcement officials the legislation needed to pursue individuals for “regular” criminal activity that they otherwise do not possess enough evidence for, among other questionable legal activities. While I believe that the Pat Act was well intended, it has certainly proven to put a lot of individual rights in question. How far should our law makers be able to go to defend our land and protect our country, yet violate and deter the rights of individuals? And, at what cost?
ACLU, 2015. Top ten abuses of power since 9/11.
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