With America in a state of instability after the terrorist attacks on September 11, the Patriot Act managed to move through the Senate and Congress quickly and was enacted on October 25, 2001.
The Patriot Act was designed to increase the amount of information the government is able to receive and, therefore, decrease terrorism in America. One of the consequences of this act is that certain sections infringe upon traditional American freedoms and liberties with the intent to protect America from future attack.
Title I was designed to enhance domestic security through the expansion of federal power and authority. This ensures protection on the home front from those who wish to cause harm on American soil. Section 102 of the act makes a very important statement that many Americans do not realize is included as part of the Patriot Act. It states that all Arab and Muslim Americans are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as all Americans and shall not be discriminated against in this act.
Title II allows all forms of communication, including verbal and non verbal, to be monitored by law enforcement officials and allows them to take action if they feel that any suspicious terrorist activity is taking place. Any type of phone communication or communication via the Internet is subject to search without permission. Surveillance enhancements are to be used by law enforcement officials to gain knowledge of terrorist activities before they occur.
With Title III the government has the ability to freeze the assets of anyone or any group of people who have any links to terrorist activities. This economic control over terrorists has been proven very effective within the international system and will certainly be helpful on the domestic front as well.
Border protection has been increased in Title IV including stricter laws on immigration.
Title V is probably the most controversial title in the entire act as it allows the federal government to remove any obstacle that could possible hinder the law’s ability to catch a terrorist in the act. This includes search and seizure without a warrant, which is a direct violation of our Fourth Amendment rights.
Title VI ensures that all victims of terrorism, including public safety officials, receive aid in the event that they are hurt or killed fighting terrorism.
Local, state and federal agencies must work together to fight terrorism. Title VII gives each level of government the right to work together and share information in order to fight terrorism as one.
Title VIII strengthens criminal laws against terrorists including laws against harboring terror. Anyone who knows of a person or group of people who are plotting terrorist activities and does not report it to the proper authority is subject to punishment by law. This includes any type of terrorist activity from destruction of military property to use of chemical and biological weaponry. Anyone who violates any section of this title is subject to 10 years of incarceration.
Title IX allows for improved intelligence among the proper authorities to root out terror.
The final title of the act, Title X, includes miscellaneous sections that elaborate on infrastructure protections, better definitions of what can be considered electronic surveillance, and a review of the Department of Congress and the sense of congress.
One of the perks of this act is that it is deemed ineffective after six years, unless there is another amendment brought forth to make it permanent legislation. (Senate terms are six years.) This act came into effect at a trying time in American history. In 2007 this act will either be reinstated or completely removed depending upon its relevance after it has served its term.