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Security and Liberty

             While dust still filled the air where the World Trade Center towers had once stood tall, actions were already underway to raise new walls of security around the nation. Congress, desperate to ward off further acts of terrorism, and equally eager to provide a sense of security in the minds of its citizens, passed the Patriot Act on October 26, 2001. So urgent was the need to take action that many congressmen say they did not even have time to read the bill (Talanian). This legislation grants to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency "greater rights to wiretap phones, monitor e-mail, survey medical, financial, and student records, and break into homes and offices without prior notification" (Talanian). The law also creates new relationships between domestic criminal investigators and agents of foreign intelligence ("USA Patriot"). While this act was written with the proper intention of ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens in this new era of terrorism, its broad scope could permit the government to infringe unduly on the rights of the people. Many writers, both nationally and locally, are currently voicing concern that the Patriot Act could destroy the essential balance between national security and individual privacy rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
             Undeniably, some beneficial aspects have already been seen from the heightened security resulting from the passage of the Patriot Act. The U.S. has already pressed charges against two Yemini citizens who were said to be conspiring to provide support materials to both Al Queda and Hamas terrorists. Also, the FBI's domestic intelligence operations have been strengthened by the CIA's information sharing, helping the U.S. to capture the Al Queda "mastermind" of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ("Terrorist"). Some experts even believe that in the short time the act has been in effect, it has already prevented further terrorist attacks on the U.

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