The Patriot Act is an act of the United States Congress that was signed into law by President Bush on October 26, 2001. The act, which was a response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies' ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records. Also, it eased eased restriction on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States. It expanded the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities. The act broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the Patriot Actís expanded law enforcement powers can be applied. In March of 2011, President Obama signed a four-year extension on certain provisions of the law.
††††††††††† The Patriot Act has caused much controversy since its enactment. While there are many that support the Patriot Act, at the same time, there are many detractors. Supporters of the act argue that the president needs a greater authority to act during war than in peacetime. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our country had no choice but to develop new techniques to combat terrorism. Those that favor the Patriot Act make the claim that it does not violate civil liberties, but it sustained constitutional democracy.
††††††††††† The most prominent argument being made by those that oppose the Patriot Act is that it violates the civil liberties given to us by the Constitution. They believe that civil liberties can only survive under governments with the power to protect those liberties from attack. Many believe that life much more difficult for people of Middle Eastern descent living in the United States. Some argue that the Patriot Act gives the government too much power. Government agencies are allowed to monitor, not only individuals suspected of terrorist activity, but any person residing within the United States and U.S. citizens residing abroad.
††††††††††† It is obvious that the Patriot Act one of the most controversial laws within recent memory. Many believe that it violates the civil liberties given to us from the Constitution. The very same civil liberties that are not to be encroached. Also, the lives of those from Middle East have been severely altered. Proponents of the Patriot Act would argue that these are necessary measures when it comes to protecting our country. One thing is for sure, this debate will continue for the foreseeable future.