In her article, Cathy Zeljak maintains that the Patriot Act has infringed on Individuals’ civil liberties, significantly the Fourth Modification’s protections in opposition to unlawful searches and surveillance. Utilizing the latest historical past of authorized choices on regulation enforcement companies’ information-gathering practices, the writer argues that the Patriot Act strips residents of the authorized protections they obtained within the late 1970s.
All through the piece, she asks, “Are we sacrificing important liberties within the battle in opposition to terrorism? (Zeljak, 2004, p. 69), and her reply (the overriding thesis of this text) is “sure.
” Zeljak argues that the Patriot Act undermines each the Fourth Modification and the Overseas Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Act, which was handed in 1978 to impose pointers on authorities surveillance of personal residents. Earlier than then, authorities surveillance of residents lacked clear pointers, and authorities companies behaved arbitrarily consequently.
Supposed “threats,” like antiwar activists and civil-rights leaders like Martin Luther King, have been incessantly monitored and harassed. The FISA Act aimed to curb these abuses and positioned extra authorized pointers on federal surveillance, requiring that international intelligence needed to be a major trigger for issuing a warrant to conduct surveillance on a person.
Nonetheless, the Patriot Act has eliminated lots of the FISA Act’s protections, now permitting warrants to be issued with international intelligence functions as solely a tangential purpose, not a major trigger.
As well as, regulation enforcement officers could now seize a wider array of information, utilizing the broad definition “any tangible factor” (Zeljak, 2004, p. 70) as an alternative of the slender lists specified by the FISA Act. The Patriot Act additionally permits authorities companies to spy on harmless third events as a way of acquiring details about major suspects, additional weakening the Fourth Modification’s protections, and it permits companies to share data extra freely, with out letting accused people identified what proof exists in opposition to them.
In March 2002, FISC rejected John Ashcroft’s proposals to permit regulation enforcement officers broader entry to (and use of) data gathered below the Patriot Act. In impact, says Zeljak, this “transferred elementary rights away from particular person residents, tremendously rising the authority of intelligence and investigative companies” (Zeljak, 2004, p. 70). FISA warrants can thus be used for prison investigations with out clear possible trigger.
Zeljak additionally claims that, regardless of two court docket defeats on this subject, the Bush administration hopes to additional broaden its surveillance and prosecutory powers with Patriot Act II, which might routinely grant federal brokers who conduct unlawful searches full immunity and permit the federal government to deport Americans discovered responsible of serving to terrorist organizations.
Mainly, she maintains, such an enlargement of the Patriot Act would enable the federal government near-total freedom to conduct investigations with few authorized pointers, and would significantly curtail residents’ protections and civil liberties. Zeljak concludes the article by stating that “Individuals should ponder whether we're sacrificing important liberties within the battle in opposition to terrorism,” and ends with a provocative query: “. . . have the terrorists already received the opening spherical? ” (Zeljak, 2004, p. zero)
Zeljak takes a transparent stance in opposition to the Patriot Act, contemplating it a flagrant violation of Americans’ constitutionally-guaranteed rights in opposition to unlawful surveillance. She asserts that the FISA Act has basically been gutted and that plans to widen the Patriot Act would additional deprive residents of authorized safety, making their rights meaningless within the identify of intelligence gathering. Her concluding query implies that, with the Patriot Act, democracy has been undermined.