The US Patriot ActA.J. Mills, University of PhoenixCJA/310 - Contemporary Issues in Criminal JusticeOBSCJA 08 Jim MaisanoMay 17, 2005 The US Patriot Act Privacy can be considered one of the most valued rights of a civilized society. The founders of the constitution had this in mind when they developed search and seizure laws to protect the privacy of the citizens from the British soldiers. The invasion of privacy has been a much discussed and debated topic among both politicians and private citizens alike, and the question many are asking is, "How much freedom do we give up for our sense of security?" The US Patriot address issues of criminal activities in relation to acts of terror. While its intentions are well meant the controversy lies more in the public perception rather than in what the act itself states. When a person hears the statement, "law enforcement agencies will have the right to place surveillance, or search anyone's house on a suspicion alone, they fail to look farther into the words and see that it has to go through a panel of 11 judges who must determine that the need is valid and will serve the purposes designated without overstepping a citizens rights if proven innocent (Bill Summary, 2001). Title II, Section 206 of the Patriot Act addresses "roving surveillance", which allows law enforcement agencies access to the suspects person, and basically states that any communication such as email, phone, etc., my be monitored if subject is suspected or actively affiliated with known terrorist groups or involved in activities.

This would apply to any public or personal outlets a person uses to communicate with their associates. It also allows law enforcement, once the item has been used once by the suspect, to monitor any use of the equipment no matter who is using it or what the use is for (Sun Set, 2005). The advantage to roving surveillance is that, when used as intended, can be a very useful tool in the "War Against Terrorism". It can alert authorities of intended or planned locations of attack, and can assist in the identification of outside or additional parties involved.

The discontent of the public is a large obstacle for the Patriot Act to overcome. Public interest and opinion typically have an impact on how politicians support, dispute and / or vote on government actions. If the public has a strong dislike for an action then sometimes the politically positioned people will vote as the people want whether it is right for the government as a whole or not. The purpose of politicians was to represent the people's voice, however they also have a duty to oversee and hold that what is being done is also right for the country as a whole. In a typical criminal case law enforcement must have probable cause or proof that a crime is to be committed (Stravelli, 2003).

The Patriot Act has in effect taken out the probable cause of not the party or parties being investigated, but those who will be monitored simply because they happened to buy gas at a different station than what was routine. There are some disadvantages to this in the aspect that even innocent casual contact could lead to unknown surveillance, however this is also where the memory of the 11 judges that must approve the order of surveillance come in and the law enforcement agency must prove that there is probable cause to the judges. In conclusion, just like everything else in life, the good comes with a bad. The public must ask themselves the question, "How much am I willing to give up for a sense of security again?" Once they have answered this to themselves then they can begin to look at both sides of the issue with fewer preconceived ideas and may also realize that sometimes giving up a little control actually means that in the long run you maintain more than you began with.

I believe that as along as a person is abiding within the law than all of the new former and future adjustments or amendments while they will apply to everyone will ultimately affect individuals that are abiding by and respecting both the law, their neighbors, and themselves enough that they would not put their neighbors families and friends in a life threatening predicament.


Bill Summary & Status for the 107th Congress. (2001).
Retrieved May 12, 2005 from web Let the Sun Set on Patriot-Section 206: Roving Surveillance Authority Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
Retrieved May 12, 2005 from web Stravelli, Gloria.
Panel discusses pros and cons of Patriot Act Federal law has had major impact on local law enforcement. Retrieved May 16, 2005 from web Page/020.
htm Surveillance Under the USA Patriot Act. Retrieved May 15, 2005 from web.