Nathaniel et al (2008) noted that prior to establishment of this bill, secrecy and people’s autonomy in decision making with regard to channels of conveyance of such information was highly placed. However, most of the people’s confidentiality capacities have totally been compromised. Notably, this controversy was evident from the immediate questioning of the Attorney general to clarify on the different tools that the act denotes in countering terrorism by some senators.
Though having passed the legislation to get the much needed security on terror, it had started downing to them that application was a different handle all together. To add to that, Lisa Murkowski and Ron Wyden’s Protecting the Rights of individuals Act was introduced as a direct counter to Patriot and Patriot II Acts after realizing the ambiguity. To add to that, Security and Freedom Ensured Act sought to address the massive outcry by the people under the previous Patriot and Patriot II Acts. Notably, the demands in the Patriot and Patriot II Acts are very general and lack the required specificity to focus on terrorism.
Privacy invasion After the two Acts came to power, personal information was no longer protected by the constitution. Sections 125 of Patriot Act II and Part II of the Patriot Act indicates the special provisions for “sneak and peak” and roving warrants that the security agents can use thereby gaining access to documents that reveal lifestyle patterns and other intrinsic information of the US citizens (Craig, 2004). In 1970s Americans discovered that bulk of the information obtained and stored for millions of citizens by the FBI was used to harass innocent people.
The Acts give exclusive powers to the investigating authorities to intercept wire, oral and electronic communication that relate to terrorism, computer fraud, and authority to share the gathered information with other security agents. Whereas the US citizens were used to maximum protection of their life style’s privacy, information from ISPs, friends, businesses, relatives and all areas related to an individual are easily accessed without informing the person being investigated. Arguably, it has been referred as a legislation to kill neighborhood as those people who voluntarily offer information on one’s particulars are given incentives.
To add to that, the act relaxed the requirements of specificity of warrant for multi-use gadgets like computers with telephonic capabilities (Wong, 2006a). According to section 306 of USAPA II, the Federal agencies are free to use the database information beyond terrorism (Nathaniel et al, 2008). All other unlawful activities related to the suspects can be investigated using information collected from them. This gives the authorities a deviation system similar to those that took place in mid 1950s with FBI where the suspects used to be accused of other offenses they had not committed.
Since enactment of USAPA, the security agencies have been cited to have an average of 100 cases annually regarding abuse of the same legislation. Over the years, increase in surveillance time has been linked to reduced levels of privacy and accuracy. Section 123 & 312 extended electronic surveillance to 90 days from the prior 30 days. Besides, USAPA II emphasized on the Patriot Act by increasing the time taken for a person to be informed that his electronic information had been searched by the federal security agents (Nancy & Bernard, 2007). Gag orders and governmental secrecy increased
According to USAPA, the “sunshine of public” review was a key to checking the governmental abuse of powers through ethical demands and citizens considerations in all the major operations by the act. However, the enactment of USAPA II allowed gags orders for the subpoenas which is used to force indirectly involved people to hand in information demanded by the investigating agencies. According to section 128 & 129 of USAPA II, those people who give the government various information on terror are forbidden from disclosing it to other people except the council.
Notably, this information need not be related with terrorism making it hard to establish a clear cut line on the overall act’s objectives demand. To add to that, the law creates more threats by establishing new exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act to the terrorism detainee information and curtails the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency from informing and warning the citizens on environmental dangers arising from chemicals emissions. This threatens their lives, poses them to physical and psychological stresses that rises from most of the terror and industrial chemicals.
To add to that, it reduces the overall capacity of the judges to pressurize government in releasing evidence in open courts for the terror suspects (Bill, 2005). According to Wong (2006a), Grab bag expands the scope of laws with more powers for the attorney general and more penalties for terror related offenses. Notably, terrorism has been described as a vice that slowly enshrines itself into the people’s systems and inculcates the destructive ideals that are aimed at harming the target population sooner or later.
Therefore, a holistic focus into the vice would be used in enhancing the best attitude changes for the terrorists. Section 402 on material support to terrorism eliminated the requirement by previous policies on criminal intent by material support to terrorism. This not only makes it ambiguous, but leaves the fate of the suspect in the hands of the federal security agents, a notion that has been highly abused. The attorney general can override extradition treaties in section 322 to enhance better tracking and later prosecution of.
However, this autonomy has been cited as a clear platform for articulating deviation of the country’s international treaties regarding criminal justice and human rights. All people should be subjected to similar laws and regulations governing them at all times (Wong, 2006b). Foreign intelligence wire traps and searches Arguably, previous investigators were required by the law to show the primary purpose of investigations which was lowered to “significant purpose” for their entry into your systems by the USAPA and USAPA II.
Though the government indicated the great significance held by this notion posing that it takes away an added brick in “the wall”, critics have indicated that it arose from misunderstanding. Notably, no resistance had been posed previously on investigations to establish any crime related to terrorism. Section 218 of the Patriot Act creates new risks where investigators are able to use terrorism and spying as a major excuse to lay their wire taps searches.
After the passing of the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, the number of intelligence traps now exceeds the overall criminal taps. With these criminal investigative activities being conducted under strong secrecy, chances and possibility of abusing the same with little oversight is very high (Nathaniel et al, 2008). To add to that the powers bestowed to the law enforcers are not limited on terrorism and have been accused of fostering vagueness in the legislations operationalization.
Arguably, USAPA was passed with direct focus to the terrorism that was accumulating in the US. However, it gave expounded mandates that made it hard to execute them due to overloading and excessive autonomy. According to section 311 of USAPA II, consumer credit details, education particulars, and visa-related information may be freely shared by the different federal agencies with no emphasis on terrorism connection. As indicated earlier, section 105 indicates that all the government agencies can use the information for any investigation Purposes.
Besides, sections 107, 206, and 404 gives exclusive authority to the security investigation subpoena to seek sentences for cartographic enhancements by the suspects (Wong, 2006a, Wong, 2006b). The autospy and gag orders are also not limited to terrorism investigations locally and internationally but seek to protect those conducting these investigations. Notably, the FISA Court Review appointed counsel as provided for in section 108 gives the Attorney general Powers to appoint judges that defend them with regard to the different cases on various suspects.
Though this was a signal to a good start, the statute should have provided for representation from the target that the surveillance was directed to. According to section 108 and 109 of USAPA II, the transparency has been greatly hindered and the government left to manipulate the overall progress of the judicial processes with regard to suspects of terror. Though terrorism is one of the most harmful icons in the modern society, only strongly based premises should be used to invoke prosecution in a court of law (Michael et al, 2005).