Ethical Implications of the Patriot Act

The law allows our intelligence and law enforcement officials to continue to share information. It allows them to continue to use tools against terrorists that they used against — that they use against drug dealers and other criminals. It will improve our nation’s security while we safeguard the civil liberties of our people. The legislation strengthens the Justice Department so it can better detect and disrupt terrorist threats. And the bill gives law enforcement new tools to combat threats to our citizens from international terrorists to local drug dealers. ” — President George W. Bush March 9, 2006

With the above words, the Patriot Act was introduced to the American people as a means of protecting the nation while still preserving the rights of individuals; however, the Patriot Act, in the view of many, is like a powerful drug with the power to cure or kill, depending upon how it is ultimately used. Herein lays the ethical dilemma of the Patriot Act itself. Take, for example, the often touchy subject of the issuance of national identification cards to allow authorities to easily establish the true identity of an individual and distinguish him or her from a dangerous criminal or even a wanted terrorist.

While the value of such a gathering of information can hardly be argued, what can be disputed and brought under tighter scrutiny is the constitutionality of such an invasion of privacy as well as the problems that would erupt if such data fell into the wrong hands or was misused by those entrusted to its proper care and use, much like the Patriot Act itself. Therefore, is it correct to say that the Patriot Act should be abolished because it may threaten rights in the pursuit of a greater good? A safe answer to this lies in the use of prudence and restraint.

If those who are empowered to utilize the Patriot Act use their power prudently, which is to say that they do not use it in the desire to grab power for themselves or to advance some kind of internal agenda, everyone will have been better served. Also, those entrusted with such power must make sure that they do not try to expand the scope of the Patriot Act beyond its established parameters. Ultimately, the Patriot Act is an ever-changing collection of powers and regulations that must be closely guarded and preserved in its intended form if it is to be effective without being oppressive.

Ongoing legal battles about its appropriateness attest to the recognition by many of its awesome power. Conclusion This research essentially comes down to the issues of rights and responsibilities, liberty and security, power and prudence. In closing, what is most important to take away from this research is the fact that threats to American security will only increase with time. The challenge will be to meet these challenges without discounting what has made America great. Bibliography Anderson, Gordon L. “Breakdown: The Failure of American Intelligence to Defeat Global Terror.

” International Journal on World Peace 20. 2 (2003): 100+. El-Ayouty, Yassin, Gerald J. Galgan, Francis J. Greene, and Edward Wesley, eds. Perspectives on 9/11. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. Etzioni, Amitai. How Patriotic Is the Patriot Act? Freedom versus Security in the Age of Terrorism. New York: Routledge, 2004. Hulnick, Arthur S. Keeping Us Safe: Secret Intelligence and Homeland Security. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. Kontorovich, Eugene. “Liability Rules for Constitutional Rights: The Case of Mass Detentions. ” Stanford Law Review 56. 4 (2004): 755+. Orye, Benjamin R.

“The Failure of Words: Habeas Corpus Reform, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and When a Judgment of Conviction Becomes Final for the Purposes of 28 U. S. C. S. 2255. ” William and Mary Law Review 44. 1 (2002): 441+. Relyea, Harold C. “Organizing for Homeland Security. ” Presidential Studies Quarterly 33. 3 (2003): 602+. Then, Corey M. “Searches and Seizures of Americans Abroad: Re-examining the Fourth Amendment’s Warrant Clause and the Foreign Intelligence Exception Five Years after United States V. Bin Laden. ” Duke Law Journal 55. 5 (2006): 1059+.