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On October 26, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT Act, which had been passed by Congress (Jaeger, Bertot, & McClure, 2003). The act was written as an acronym, with each letter standing for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001." (Jaeger et al., 2003). Following the catastrophic Al Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001, and the 2001 anthrax attacks, there was an urgent need to strengthen security laws and counterterrorism strategies. Typically, the US Patriot Act brought many changes in the country, most of which contributed positively to the security of the nation (Jaeger, McClure, Bertot, & Snead, 2014). Nonetheless, there were a lot of challenges that came with the Act, including social injustices committed against the ordinary people when it came to surveillance, searches, and seizure operations.
The Patriot Act of 2001 was necessarily meant to deter terrorism and contain such efforts within or outside of the American soil or space. Under critical surveillance and intelligence sharing by pivotal bodies like the CIA, FBA, and the department of homeland security, terrorism was to be combated to avoid more loss of lives and property (Jaeger et al., 2003). In fact, the American military was called upon under this Act, to offer their immediate support and response, in case weapons of mass destruction seemed inevitable and in possession of the impending terror attacks. Other than condemning Islam phobia which had set in both the mainstream media and the society as a whole following the September 11 attacks, the US Patriot Act was meant to give the president more freedom and decree to act, in case elements of terrorist attack faced the country (Jaeger et al., 2014).
The other component t of the US Patriot Act is the enhanced surveillance protocol, which primarily deals with investigating and dealing with computer fraudsters, tracing and bringing to book those suspected to be terrorism perpetrators, as well as cracking down people otherwise thought to be or confirmed to be engaging in clandestine activities to deliver intelligence to their foreign allies (Jaeger et al., 2014). Perhaps this segment is the most controversial, yet the most valuable part of the Act, because it made possible the collection of intelligence from both American and foreign citizens, to enable the stakeholders and custodians of security and surveillance to remain at the top of information (Jaeger et al., 2003). As such, it was possible to allow information sharing between different governmental bodies, like the criminal and surveillance departments, hence reducing the porous probabilities of criminal activities.
As provided for in the Patriot Act, the regulations about surveillance, searches, and seizure have caused positive impact and challenges alike, the American society. The dwindling civil freedoms and liberties became a significant issue that caused complains across the US, immediately after the Act was enacted into law (Gorham-Oscilowski & Jaeger, 2008). In fact, it appeared like the Americans had chosen to forego all their liberties because of fear and uncertainty posed by terrorism. On the better part of the social confrontations, most Americans lost trust in the government, while others condemned the courts for forsaking the people. In essence, the September 11 attacks on the US caused a public stir that would change the history and perception of terrorism in the country for good (Gorham-Oscilowski & Jaeger, 2008). The position can be justified by the many influential and controversial Acts that were passed by Congress in the immediate future. For instance, the surveillance, searches, and seizure policy under the US 2001 Patriot act was meant to eliminate terrorists and their affiliates in entirety from the US.
Gorham-Oscilowski, U., & Jaeger, P. T. (2008). National Security Letters, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the Constitution: The tensions between national security and civil rights. Government Information Quarterly, 25(4), 625–644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.giq.2008.02.001
Jaeger, P. T., Bertot, J. C., & McClure, C. R. (2003). The impact of the USA Patriot Act on collection and analysis of personal information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Government Information Quarterly, 20(3), 295–314. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0740-624X(03)00057-1
Jaeger, P. T., McClure, C. R., Bertot, J. C., & Snead, J. T. (2014). The USA PATRIOT Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Information Policy Research in Libraries : Issues, Impacts, and Questions for Libraries and Researchers. Library Quarterly, 74(2), 99–121. https://doi.org/10.1086/382843
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