Features

The Importance of the Patriot Act in the United States

 Amanda Horton

On September 11, 2001, the United States was struck by tragedy, facing vicious terrorist attacks brought on by the terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda run by Osama bin Laden. During these attacks, planes were hijacked and crashed into prominent buildings in the United States.

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The first plane, American Airlines flight 11 crashed into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am. Everyone aboard the plane was instantly killed along with hundreds of people inside the building. Seventeen minutes following the first crash, at 9:03 am, hijackers crashed United Airlines flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the World Trade Center, South Tower. By 9:37 am, a third plane: American Airlines flight 77 had crashed into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington D.C. This crash killed all 59 passengers aboard the plane, along with 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building.

The final plane, United Airlines flight 93, was believed to be heading for The White House in Washington D.C.; however, after an attempt by the crew to take back control of the plane, the plane was deliberately crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

These four attacks on the people of the United States resulted in the death of 2,996 people, and another 6,000 people injured. This showed the United States government a dire need to enact the proper legislation in order to be able to track and prevent terrorism before events like this could occur. To do so, “The PATRIOT Act” was introduced in the House of Representatives on October 2, 2001, and 10 days later passed on October 12th.

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The “US PATRIOT” act is an acronym which stands for: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. This act called for the creation of the United Stated Department of Homeland Security.

It also allowed government agencies such as the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security more access to internet records, made it easier to tap phones, and access other intelligence information. This act is both important and absolutely necessary in order to prevent future terrorist attacks like the ones that occurred on September 11, 2001.

With almost 3,000 lives being lost in the 9/11 attacks, the “US PATRIOT” act allows for the prevention of attacks like these by providing the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Administration, the much-needed access to phone and internet records to obtain information about potential terroristic threats.

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Because the Patriot Act is such a fine line between what was necessary for the safety of Americans and their basic constitutional rights, the act’s provisions were what was known as “sunset,” meaning they would need to be re-evaluated, and re-signed once again in five years. In 2006, the bill was amended with a few slight changes, and once again signed by then President George Bush. In 2011, President Barack Obama signed a four-year extension, carrying the act until it’s expiration in June 2015.

Following this, President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, renewing the expired parts of the Patriot Act, but removed section 215 of the law, therefore making it no longer legal for the NSA to continue its mass phone data collection program.

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From this point on, the NSA would need to obtain information about targeted individuals directly from phone companies with granted permission from a federal court. Though these slight amendments to the act have been made, its lifespan now approaching 18 years shows the need for this act in the United States. Day in and day out, the “US PATRIOT” act provides more national security by eliminating the threat of potential harmful terroristic threats.

Categories: Features, Uncategorized

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