Freedom and Justice Concepts Thesis

Pages: 10 (3590 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

U.S. PATRIOT ACT: WE DESERVE BETTER

Following the events of September 11, 2001, legislation has occurred which has ludicrously removed the rights of citizens instead of serving to bolster and support citizen's rights in the United States. Furthermore, while the leaders of the United States are speaking of 'safety and security' the reality is that at no other time in history has the rights, safety and security of American citizens been so greatly compromised. The U.S.A. Patriot Act was passed in its first form in the "Uniting and Strengthening American by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism' act six weeks after the events of September 11, 2001." (Wronkiewicz, 2002, p. 1) One result of this is related in the work of Wronkiewicz who states that resulting from the U.S.A. Patriot Act is what is termed a "tense position" for the library community in its role as "guardians of intellectual freedom." (2002, p. 2)

STATEMENT of THESIS

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The U.S. Patriot Act while being held by certain U.S. leaders to be aggressively attending to the safety and security of American citizens in reality, violates many of the basic human rights of individuals and does not make Americans more, but less secure. In a separate work entitled: "Son of the Patriot Act and the Revenge on Democracy" it is stated that "numerous constitutional rights, such as the First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of assembly, the Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizures" as well as others which will be reviewed during the course of this research study. The work of James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. entitled: "Securing the Home Front" states that when it comes to "matters of strategy, thought should always precede action." (2007, p. 1)

I. The ARGUMENT

Thesis on Freedom and Justice Concepts Assignment

The USA Patriot Act has resulted in violations against the civil rights of U.S. citizens and mot importantly has resulted in constitutional violations. The League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area relates in the work entitled: "The Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act and American Civil Liberties after September 11, 2001" states a belief that "the individual liberties guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States...should not be weakened or abridged." (2001, p.1) Additionally related is that the major parts of the Patriot Act include the following:

1) Information Collection: Gives federal officials greater authority to track and intercept communications, both for law enforcement and foreign intelligence purposes;

2) Money Laundering: Requires collection and sharing of financial transaction information and vests the Secretary of the Treasury with regulatory powers over U.S. financial institutions concerning suspected money laundering and terrorist activities;

3) Alien Terrorists and Victims: Seeks to further close our borders to foreign terrorists by provisions controlling entry into the United States; and 4) New Crimes, Penalties and Procedures: Seeks to detain and remove terrorists within our borders by creating new crimes, new penalties and new procedures for use against domestic and international terrorists, including increasing rewards for information, lengthening the statue of limitations applicable to crimes of terrorism, authorizing "sneak and peek" search warrants and execution of warrants nationwide and internationally. (League of Women's Voters of Cincinnati Area, 2001)

II. TROUBLING PROVISIONS of the U.S.A. PATRIOT ACT

Stated to be "...troubling provisions' of the U.S.A. Patriot Act are the following:

1) Immigrants - the Attorney-General can detain non-citizens on his own say-so without a hearing. The Act authorizes deportation, based on any support to a disfavored group, without any requirement that the support be connected to a terrorist act;

2) Citizen's Rights - Property can be seized without notice, without a hearing and on the basis of secret evidence. The government is given broad access to sensitive business and financial records of individuals without having to show evidence of a crime. Conversations with a lawyer may be monitored without a warrant or denied altogether and the right to a public hearing upon arrest exists only with the Attorney General's consent;

3) Privacy - the Patriot Act reduces judicial oversight of a host of investigative measures, including wiretaps, expands the government's ability to track individuals' internet use and gives federal officials expansive new powers that are in no way limited to investigating terrorist crimes. It authorizes the government to conduct wiretaps and searches in criminal investigations, without probable cause of a crime, as long as the government claims that it also seeks to gather foreign intelligence. The question arises that these activities are in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and 4) Freedom of Association - Under the Patriot Act amendments to pre-existing emergency powers laws, the President can designate any organization or individual a terrorist, thereby freezing all their assets and criminalizing all transactions by them. Muslim charities have been shut down, some without any charges. One has been designated a terrorist organization and was given no notice or hearing prior to its designation. (League of Women's Voters of Cincinnati Area, 2001)

III. CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Timeline is presented by the League of Women's Voters (2001) and the same has been attached to this study as 'Appendix a' for reference. The Timeline presents a 'Brief History on Restrictions on Civil Liberties'. In essence, this Timeline lists the various highlights of legislation and laws that have served to either support or diminish the civil liberties of the American people. One flaming example of just such civil rights violations occurred recently in Minneapolis and is reported by the 'Coldsnap Legal Collective' in Twin Cities, Minnesota which states: "In an outrageous series of state-sanctioned actions, police raided an activist "Convergence Space" and several homes in the past 24 hours, detaining multiple people on extraordinarily flimsy pretences, arresting several, confiscating computers and laptops, and even handcuffing a small child." (Coldsnap Legal, 2008) Reportedly, the intentions of law enforcement were."..a chilling effect on dissent prior to the launch of the Republican National Convention..." And the facts are stated as follows:

1) Last night, police raided an activist meeting location. All occupants, including a five-year-old child, were detained, handcuffed, and photographed. Computers were removed from the space, and some personal property (like notebooks) were seized;

2) a private residence on 17th St. was raided this morning and had its door kicked in. The same five-year-old child was again terrorized by armed law enforcement. The police continue to threaten to board up the house unless minor code violations (like a broken door) are remedied;

3) a private residence in St. Paul, occupied by local residents and out-of-town journalists, was raided on the basis of an identical search warrant to the one presented last night at the Convergence Space (it specified "bomb-making materials," though nothing of the sort was apparently seized); and 4) a private residence on Harriet Ave. was raided and has been threatened with being boarding up. (Coldsnap Legal, 2008, p.1)

New reports are rife with such incidents such as the report published in June 2004 by 'The NewStandard' in the article entitled: "Anarchist Home Builders Navigate Police Intimidation at G8 Summit' in which it is reported that Brunswick, Georgia, a small southern town was under heavy police and military occupation while the President met with other "world leaders on an island just miles from this small, economically struggling town..." (Lindsey, 2004, p.1) This incident involved a group of self-identified anarchists who desired to protest the military occupation in this small town through some worthy and positive form of protest and in this case, it involved refurbishing older homes for unwed mothers. However, as this group of young people went about their work they were harassed by both local police and the FBI. The police first set about enforcing a city code that made a requirement of a permit "for cleaning and repairing the properties, although they were not doing anything resembling construction or making additions to the properties." (Lindsey, 2004, p.1) Additionally, a backpack was taken from the group of young people for no apparent reason and there were no indications that the backpack was in any form "dangerous or contained anything illegal." (Lindsey, 2004, p.1) During this incident the Brunswick Police Department is reported to have been instrumental in securing the backpack's return or so told the group of young people in their communication to reporters however, the Brunswick Police Department denied any knowledge of assisting the young people and the FBI denied any knowledge of the backpack whatsoever and strangely enough the backpack was returned with everything intact plus an extra twenty-dollars. Lindsey (2004) reports that when the FBI was quizzed as to "why law enforcement personnel were interfering with and intimidating the group, Special Agent Tony Alig of the FIB said the activists were not working on houses but were instead hanging protest signs all over the house on Martin Luther King Avenue." (Lindsey, 2004, p.1) it is troubling to note in the report that these young unarmed, peaceful and positive protesters were doing nothing more than refurbishing old houses and hanging signs and that "The National Guard...is riding in Humvees with machine guns mounted… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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