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The USA Patriot Act and the Violation of Human Rights

            The ten years between 2000 and 2010 mark what must be considered one of the most important, transformative and controversial decades in the history of the United States of America. Immediately following the contested election of George W. Bush, the country was attacked by Islamic terrorists on September11th, leading to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan-two wars that would indebt the country and last throughout the duration of the decade. The election of President Barack Obama was seen as a marked shift in American attitudes both domestically and abroad, but even his presidency was defined by a severe economic crisis and a succession of embittered political debates. Ultimately, this decade will likely be remembered by the foreign policies of presidents Bush and Obama, and the wide-ranging implications of these policies abroad. Many critics, in fact, point to some of the blunders of these policies-such as Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq War-as severe violations of human rights. However, it is important to remember that during the extremely crucial months of late 2001, one of the biggest human rights abuses was carried out by the American federal government against Americans: the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001", more commonly known as the Patriot Act. Broadly speaking, the Patriot Act was a response to the September 11th attacks, attempting to give the federal government unprecedented powers to monitor communications within the US, in order to thwart future attacks from domestic and international terrorist groups. In reality, the law gave the US government new powers to monitor and spy on communications, detains immigrants indefinitely, and access financial records. In this essay, we will look critically at the Patriot Act of 2001, arguing that the benefits in fighting terrorism were not worth the inevitable human rights losses.

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