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The Patriot Act Is Unconstitutional

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, more commonly known as the Patriot Act, was passed by Congress in October 2001 to give law enforcement increased powers in the fight against terrorism.

Running 342 pages, the law contains more than 150 sections, most of which are amendments to existing statutes.

The Patriot Act was first presented to Congress five days after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and passed 45 days later.

Since when has government been so fast to do anything? This bill was already written long before 9/11. Think about that for a second.

The law was passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress — by a 98-1 margin in the Senate and 356-66 in the House — but since then a growing number of legislators have become critical of it. Most of those expressing concern have been Democrats.

So just what is The Patriot Act?

The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of Congress signed into law by US President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. With its ten-letter abbreviation (USA PATRIOT) expanded, the Act’s full title is “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”.

In response to the September 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks, Congress swiftly passed legislation to strengthen national security. On October 23, 2001, Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 3162 incorporating provisions from a previously-sponsored House bill and a Senate bill also introduced earlier in the month. The next day, the Act passed the House by a vote of 357–66, with Democrats comprising the overwhelming portion of dissent.

Those opposing the law have criticized its authorization of indefinite detentions of immigrants; the permission given law enforcement officers to search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s consent or knowledge; the expanded use of National Security Letters, which allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order; and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records. Since its passage, several legal challenges have been brought against the act, and federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional.

Many of the act’s provisions were to sunset beginning December 31, 2005, approximately four years after its passage. In the months preceding the sunset date, anybody supporting the act pushed to make its sun-setting provisions permanent, while critics sought to revise various sections to enhance civil liberty protections. In July 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a reauthorization bill with substantial changes to several of the act’s sections, while the House reauthorization bill kept most of the act’s original language. The two bills were then reconciled in a conference committee criticized by Senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties for ignoring civil liberty concerns.

The bill, which removed most of the changes from the Senate version, passed Congress on March 2, 2006, and was signed by President Bush on March 9 and 10 of that year.

On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, a four-year extension of three key provisions in the Act:[9] roving wiretaps, searches of business records, and conducting surveillance of “lone wolves”—individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups.

Following a lack of Congressional approval, parts of the Patriot Act expired on June 1, 2015. With passing the USA Freedom Act on June 2, 2015, the expired parts were restored and renewed through 2019. However, Section 215 of the law was amended to stop the National Security Agency (NSA) from continuing its mass phone data collection program.[12] Instead, phone companies will retain the data and the NSA can obtain information about targeted individuals with permission from a federal court.

Is The Patriot Act Unconstitutional?

The USA PATRIOT Act broadly expands law enforcement’s surveillance and investigative powers and represents one of the most significant threats to civil liberties, privacy and democratic traditions in U.S. history. The act in its current form gives sweeping search and surveillance to domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies and eliminates checks and balances which had been the difference between the free world and the suppressed.

That difference previously had given courts the opportunity to ensure that those powers were not abused. PATRIOT and follow-up legislation now in development threaten the basic rights of millions of Americans and has turned America into a suppressed state.

The federal government has turned American freedoms into a world wide mockery with their unchecked spying on ordinary Americans, part of a broad pattern of the executive branch using “national security” and or “suspected terrorism ” as an excuse for encroaching on the privacy and free speech rights of Americans without adequate oversight. It eliminates many protections against unlawful imprisonment and now many rights in U.S. legal system are absent — such as the important right of habeas corpus.

As written the act violates due process for all Americans. All the president has to do is call a citizen an “enemy combatant,” and the person’s due process rights disappear. The US Government says that U.S. citizens can be detained and then tried in secret trials — in absentia, and can use secret evidence that the accused cannot see or challenge. If evidence is obtained by coercion, or torture government lawyers contend that it should still be allowed as a basis for conviction, there by erasing 300 years of Anglo-American jurisprudence.

If you want the Patriot Act to be repealed you should immediately write your Congressperson and express your concerns, if you and millions of others don’t America’s leadership in freedom and many of our own basic freedoms and liberties will be a thing of the past.

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