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The Patriot Act

            USA Patriot Act: Preventing Terror or Expanding Government Power.
             The United States is a country that prides itself in individual rights and freedoms. But when they are sacrificed or restricted for a sense of safety from terror, are we really exercising those freedoms or just giving the government more power to tell us what we need and allowing them the tools to deal with those issues. This is a question that can be debated on both sides, with no clear answer. Nevertheless it is an important question that needs to be addressed, because if it is true we may no longer be individuals, but "free" citizens under the watchful eye of authority. .
             The USA Patriot Act, which stands for the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, introduced many new legislative changes largely effecting people's privacy. It greatly increased the surveillance and investigational power of all law enforcement agencies in the United States. However this act did not account for the system of checks and balances set up in this democracy that has always defended civil liberties in the face of legislation such as this act. Passed just six weeks after the September 11th attacks with no time to analyze the bill, with no discussion, debate or hearings; The USA Patriot act became law on a 98-1 vote in the United States Senate. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee composed a more democratic compromise to the bill, but it was thrown out for a compromise bill that mirrored the Senate version. Neither discussion nor amendments were permitted in consideration of this bill. .
             The new law hits on every space that Americans once imagined was personal or private. United States authorities can browse medical, financial, educational and library records without showing evidence of a crime ever being committed. The Patriot Act also overrides the existing state and federal privacy laws, so long as the FBI claims the information is connected to an intelligence investigation.

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