” (Lindsey, 2004, p.1) it is interesting to note that one of the young protestors stated: “[the world leaders] are sitting over there on Sea Island having their little party only talking about how to fix things, but we are over here actually doing something to make things better” — Laurel Paget-Seekins (Lindsey, 2004, p. 1) the U.S.A. Patriot Act has been touted to do just this – or to make things better in terms of security of American citizens and it is certain that the provisions of this Act have served to increase levels of security for American citizens but this security has come with a cost attached and for some Americans the cost is too high and too intrusive upon their basic civil rights. One such instance of the complexity created within the security paradigm are the no-fly lists that have been implemented in U.S. airports since September 11, 2001, has created great complexities for individuals who have been wrongly listed on the no-fly lists and improper and highly questionable airport search of individuals have been scattered across the headlines in new reports. Another aspect of the U.S.A. Patriot Act that has been identified as troubling for American citizens is the practice of placing individuals under arrested and then denying the individuals the basic legal rights to counsel and going so far as to incarcerate these individuals in prison that are located outside of the United States such as the prison located at Guantanamo Bay.
A report published by CNN in July 2003 entitled: “Patriot Act reports Documents Civil Rights Complaints” relates that the Justice Department inspector general office, “found the violations from its regular six-month survey of the antiterror law.” (Bohn, 2003, p.1) in fact, it is stated in this report that Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan states that the attorney general “appears on television nearly every week claiming to protect us, while he simultaneously dismantles our civil liberties and civil rights.” (Bohn, 2003, p.1)
The U.S. Department of Justice – Office of the Inspector General “Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the U.S.A. Patriot Act” published in July 2003 relates that complaints received during the reporting period beginning December 16, 2002 and ending June 15, 2003 included the following types and numbers of complaints:
1) number of complaints received suggesting a Patriot Act-related civil rights or civil liberties connection – 1073;
2) Number of complaints outside the OIGs jurisdiction – 431;
3) Number of unrelated complaints – 370;
4) Number of complaints within the OIGs jurisdiction – 272 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2003)
The report states that only a fraction of these reports were found to be valid complaints however, validity is relative to the viewpoint of the individual and the manner in which civil liberties are viewed. In other words, what might not appear to be a violation of civil rights from one standpoint looks from another standpoint to be an extreme violation of the individuals civil rights as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and accompanying Bill of Rights.
A separate CNN report published September 2002 entitled: “Balancing Life and Liberty: Danger to Civil Liberties When Security is Strengthened” relates that “regulations now allow federal agents to eavesdrop on attorney-client conversations for terrorism cases; government officials are told they can deny public access to many documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.” (Drew, 2003, p.1) it is additionally reported however, that court rulings “have stalled some of the administrations moves.” (Drew, 2003, p. 1) in fact, in August 2002, it was ordered by two federal judges that the federal government must “release the names of hundreds detained in the terror probe, and they criticized treatment of a U.S. citizen held as any enemy combatant, a classification that allows prosecutors to detain someone indefinitely without bringing charges or allowing access to an attorney.” (Drew, 2003, p.1)
In 2003, the U.S.A. Patriot Act II was implemented and the following facts are stated relating to this ACT:
1) Privacy invasions – This Act dramatically widens the powers of government to invade the privacy of Americans and others living here including: (a) Immunity for businesses that voluntarily turn over your information to law enforcement; (b) Extra punishment for use of cryptography– no connection to terrorism needed; – Instant police access to your credit reports upon certification that they are sought “in connection with their duties” — again, with no connection to terrorism needed; (d) Relaxed requirement of specificity for warrants for multi-use devices like PDAs and computers with telephonic capabilities; (e) DNA collected from all terrorism suspects/DNA database information open to all law enforcement;
f) Less judicial oversight of surveillance;
2) More end runs around limitations on surveillance and information sharing;
3) Gag orders and increased governmental secrecy;
4) Expanded reach of powers under the control of secret courts; and 5) Not targeted to terrorism.
(Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2003)
The conclusion stated in the analysis conducted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation is that the U.S.A. Patriot Act II would “create grave new violations of the privacy of ordinary Americans and place even more unchecked power into the hands of law enforcement and the intelligence community. Were only beginning to see the effects of USAPA and the administration has not made the case that we are safer as a result of it.” (2003)
SUMMARY & CONCLUSION
The USA Patriot Act I and II have resulted in grave civil rights violations and of the nature that is so severe that most American citizens once becoming aware of these violations are quite shocked and incredible that this could actually happen in the United States of America. From the release of personal information to governmental agencies concerning the library books that one reads to warrantless wiretapping and eavesdropping of U.S. citizens to unlawful imprisonment and denial of basic legal rights of American citizens, the safety and security of the U.S.A. Patriot Acts, while increasing security in some areas has greatly reduced the security of Americans in many other areas of their lives. When the individual looks to the government to provide blanket protection and security, that same individual relinquishes many of their rights, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution leaving many Americans to wonder if the security gained was indeed worth the security lost in the process of governmental protection.
1776 Declaration of Independence.
1787 U.S. Constitution sent to states for ratification.
1790 Naturalization Act limits citizenship to free white men.
1791 Bill of Rights goes into effect.
1800 the Alien and Sedition Acts make it a crime to falsely criticize the government or government officials.
1840s Mobs hostile to immigrant Irish Catholics burn down a convent in Boston and riot in Philadelphia during a depression.
1860s President Lincoln suspends Writ of Habeas Corpus (Forbids a government from holding a person in jail indefinitely without a hearing before a judge) several times during the Civil War.
1870 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments and a Civil Rights Act abolish slavery, assure equal rights to all citizens, define “citizen” as anyone born in U.S. Or naturalized, and extend voting rights to African-American men.
1876 Posse Comitatus Act separates civilian and military authority and forbids use of Army to enforce civilian laws.
1882-1917 Exclusion Acts pass against Chinese and other Asians with a “Barred Zone” including most of South Asia.
1917-1918 World War I. Criticizing the war effort and especially the draft is made a federal crime. 250,000 people in the “American Protective League” opened mail, wiretapped phones and incited violence against Germans and German newspapers.
1918 Deportation Act of 1918 allows deportation of radicals; 6-10,000 people arrested in “Palmer Raids” were held without communication or due process and deported.
1920 Voting rights extended to women.
1920s “Red Scare” – thousands of foreign born, suspected of radicalism, are arrested and sometimes brutalized. Many are deported without a hearing.
1940s Many Jews fleeing Nazi Germany are excluded under regulations enacted in the 1920s.
1942 120,000 Japanese-Americans are interned in “concentration camps” and their property confiscated.
1943-1965 Various Immigration Acts repeal the “Exclusion Acts” and specify “preferences,” limiting numbers of Eastern Hemisphere immigrants.
Late l940s-early 50s “McCarthy Era” where laws such as the Smith Act punish speech and associational activities with criminal and civil penalties, ostracism and job loss for anyone presumed to be associated with the Communist Party. One could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for studying Marx and Lenin.
1950s Mexicans are targeted by a government program for deportation.
1960s Government tracks civil rights activists including Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., feminist organizations, anti-war activists, Black Muslims and others.
1963 Equal Pay Act prohibits discrimination in pay based on race or gender.
1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VI prohibits discrimination in public access; Title VII prohibits discrimination (race, sex, national origin or religion) in employment; Title VIII is a federal fair housing law.
1965 the Voting Rights Act codifies the 15th Amendment regarding race or color and makes it effective. Executive Order regarding affirmative.