The Patriot Act..4
The Homeland Security Act6
Patriot act, Homeland act and Privacy..9
Conclusions and recommendations..10
Works cited .12
Homeland security is a basic right that should be provided by the government to its citizens. This has led to enactment of several clauses in the constitution all aiming at enhancing security of each and every person. Also, from the bills of rights provided to the citizens by the constitution, every citizen is entitled to basic and proper security as a right. This is what has led to enactment of constitutional rights on homeland security.
After September 11 attack on the US by terrorists, the US government saw the need to come up with consolidated security measures to keep itself and its citizens safe. This is what led to formulation and enactment of patriot act whose full title is: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. This act was drafted in 2001 and eventually signed into law on 26th October the same year. The act provides ten sections which clearly elaborate on how the US government should conduct itself so as to avoid any future attacks on it or its citizens.
Closely related act that was enacted much later was the homeland security act of 2002. This act came as a result of continued metamorphosis of security system which saw the merging of about five defense departments into one department with an aim of strengthening security. This bill can be claimed to have had the greatest impact compared to its predecessors in line of law enforcement. This act elaborates a lot on security and how homeland security should be organized with the many players having to play their roles dependently so as to completely eradicate any act of terrorism. Like the patriot act, this act has several articles which deal with specific situations and terrorism in particular. However, these two acts seem to differ in aspects regarding privacy since patriot act does try to maintain democracy and uphold privacy while keeping watch on terrorism but the homeland security act allows for some situations in which the president can order seizure of personal property which is an intrusion to privacy.
The main idea in this research is the interconnection between the patriot act, homeland security act and their similarities and differences while addressing the issue of privacy. In brief: patriot act, homeland security act and privacy.
This act was enacted into law on 26th of October 2001 following the terrorist attack on America. This came as a reaction to the attack in which the Americans came up with a strategy to help keep safe. This act was quickly drafted and since its enactment, implementers have shown different reactions to it (Joseph, paragraph 4).
The supporters of the act believe that the law is appropriate without any amendments thus should be fully implemented to enforce security. This means that all the ten clauses in the act should be followed to the letter though on personal opinion I believe some aspects require amendments of there are some missing phrases to allow for complete and clear implementation.
On the opposition side, the critics believe that the law gives the government and more so the president excess powers. They quote that these powers can be easily misused by the leader to accomplish personal interests thus the law should be abandoned all together. However, critically looking at their argument, they have a reason to complain of the excess powers given to the president. This doesn’t mean that the law is all rotten thus only amendment is necessary to fix the missing clauses of phrases. So as to fully understand this law, let us have a look at the main articles (Eddie, paragraphs 3-6).
- Enhancement of domestic security against terrorism. This is the first article which has sub-articles which call for funding of counterterrorism campaigns, use of military in cases of security emergencies and weapons of mass destruction, allow the president to confiscate personal property and secretly provide it as evidence in court in case the president links a person to funding of terrorism against the US and establishment of intelligence network to secure the US.
- Enhancement of surveillance. This came as a means to control passage of information and personal contacts to some areas or people. The sub-article provides for wire-tapping of calls, messages of computer data associated with terrorism, use of foreign surveillance to tract persons, sharing of information regarding crimes and control or screening of telecommunications data.
- International money laundering and anti-terrorism financing article. This aspect deals with money flow and concerns regarding money laundering. Its sub-articles allow for US intervention in concerns raised even by foreign banks on money laundering, enforcement of money laundering control programs and bans on across the boarders’ transfer of more than $10,000 to unclear destinations (Anna, paragraph 6).
- Protecting the boarders. This article allows for the government to use whichever means to ensure that all its boarders are secure. This many call for use of military or other disciplined forces and does not compromise in case a citizen is found infringing this law.
- Removing obstacles to terrorism investigation. As stipulated in the main introduction of this act, the main issue under concern in the act is terrorism. This article explains on how the government plans to deal with terrorism and remove hindrances to terrorism investigation even if it means detaining some of the citizens or infringing into personal privacy.
- Providing for victims of terrorism. This came as form of compensation strategy to help those affected by terrorism to restart their life with much ease. This was deduced after September 11 victims had a very rough time trying to lead a suitable life. (http://www.lvmpd.com/Sections/HomelandSecurity/USAPatriotAct/tabid/233/Default.aspx)
The other four articles appear as elaboration on the first four articles. These articles together form what is known as patriot act of 2001 of the US constitution. The last article deals specifically with how each law will be implemented. This means that laid down strategy have to follow a certain protocol and also allows for some instances where intrusion into privacy may be granted by the law. It also explains more on the powers of the president, attorney general and department of justice in enforcing the act (Anna, paragraph 4).
Looking at the main issue of concern that is referred to by the critics, the power of the president and government to confiscate private property is the main issue. They believe that the power is much more than necessary. If anybody is linked to terrorism by mistake, the person may have some of personal property confiscated which is an injustice. This is what directly links this act to privacy of the citizens (David, paragraph 2).
Homeland security act
This bill was drafted in the year 2001 but was signed upon into a law in 2002. The act allows for day to day protection of the people from recurrent terrorist threats in the United States. This act was enacted due to persistent threats on America by terror groups which had infiltrated into almost all areas of the government. This act led to formation of homeland security department whose main mission is to protect the Americans from daily threats by terrorists. This act is similar to another act known as intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act of the year 2002 in that the two are designed to deal with terrorist threats even in the future (Jean, paragraph 2). The act is greatly intertwined with other acts and maintains the main role as advisory in matters pertaining to intelligence and terrorism cases. It has the following articles:
- Information analysis and infrastructure protection. These are two titles of articles of the act that comprises of 19 sections which revolve around informational devolution and sharing. It also touches on some areas pertaining to cyber security act of 2002.
- Science and technology in support of homeland security. This article has 13 sections which deal with development of national strategy to deal with any chemical, technological or even biological threats that might be posed by terrorists.
- Emergency preparedness and response. This is the article that outlines the mode of responding to terrorist emergencies which might come up. It gives some possible countermeasures which can be installed to ensure that the terrorists do not implement their threat.
- National homeland security council. This article establishes the formation of a council in the office of the president which acts as an advisory body to the president in matters pertaining to national security. This council is also charged with the clause that allows the president and the council to seize personal property of people purportedly supporting terrorist attacks on America.
- Information security. This article comprises of 7 sections which are all geared towards protecting confidential federal information from leaking into the wrong hands. It also addresses on the issue of how to handle any leaded information and ensure it doesn’t cause any havoc among the people. Information regarding terror attacks is treated with great confidentiality and annual evaluation of the information security systems is done to enhance security.
- Airline war risk insurance legislation. This article has five sections which helps provide third party insurance to people who might be victims of air travel risks due to factors resulting from terrorism related issues. This article was incorporated due to the heavy losses of human life that went uncompensated for in September 11 attack on America.
- Arming pilots against terrorism. This is an article that comprises of seven sections and tries to evaluate the whole idea flight decks security. The article allows for pilots to undergo some security training to help them handle flight security. This means that in a disguised manner, pilots are also trained to be security personnel who deal with any criminal activity onboard. (Thomas, paragraphs 5-12)
In total, this act has 17 articles which all revolve around security of the people against any form of terror attacks. Like the patriot act, this act has undergone several critical amendments which have made it much effective to the people of America. Looking at some of the critics associated with this act, there is reduced privacy. This creeps in due to increased information sharing and wiretapping which is provided for in attempt to enforce cyber security. The other aspect is increased government secrecy. According to critics, this can lead to defrauding of public funds and the information remains secret since the law prohibits whistle blowing on matters pertaining to government audits and strategies. Closely associated with the increased secrecy is protection of government special interests. Like any other party, governments have some areas that they always protect. With this law providing for a council to advise the president on what to do on some issues, it is feared that the advisors may collude and advise the president to protect a certain special interest which might benefit only a few individuals and not the whole nation as anticipated. (policyalmanac.org/world/archive/homeland_defense.html on 2010)
Privacy and the two acts
Looking at privacy of a person, it is a democratic right that is provided for in the constitution. Therefore, it is a law infringement for any party whether a private entity, person of the government itself to get into personal premises without notice or informing the owner prior. This means that any act of intrusion into personal premises is a crime punishable by law.
Investigating these two acts which are also part of the constitution, there are some articles and sections that allow unauthorized intrusion into personal premises. Quoting a specific example, from the patriot act of 2001, the first article, section five allows for the president through the homeland security department to intrude into private property, seize it and secretly produce it in a court of law if a person is suspected to engage in terrorism related activities. This law does not give a specific perspective or grounds on which the property may be seized. Secondly, it does not explain why the process or taking the property to court should be done secretly.
In another section of the patriot acts, article two, the communications governing bodies are unleashed to excess powers to a point of wiretapping and intercepting even messages. This means that any message sent by whichever electronic device or means is liable to interception, distortion creating lack of confidentiality.
Taking a look at the impact of homeland security act of 2005 on privacy, article two sections one enhances only federal information confidentiality. This means that only federal security information is safe and can be confidential. Sections three and four of the same article allows for screening of information to ensure that no terrorist related messages are sent. This is a security measure though it infringes on personal privacy.
The other article that partly infringes into personal privacy is the information security (article 10). It provides for some responsibilities and circumstances which may permit intrusion but in close scrutiny, some security personnel may use such openings in the act to terrorize people by infringing into their security and privacy.
Conclusions and recommendations
Having closely analyzed these two acts of the US constitution, I can claim that they are good and were created in good faith as per the current security status at the time of drafting. However, some clauses and sections may require some corrections and amendment to reduce cases of some malicious security personnel who fully understands the acts taking advantage of some left out conditions or clauses. To begin with, the acts have infringed into personal privacy to some extent. In some cases, this is necessary for personal security as well as the national security. However, the intrusion should be in a formal manner and in a manner which does not offend the citizen whose privacy is intruded into (US House of Representatives committee, paragraph 6). For example, screening of messages and voice calls is not against the law but I believe this should not result in altering of the original message. Wiretapping is not the best way to gather any information on terror attacks. This is mainly because terrorists have evolved technologically and are using some codes to decipher their messages. The only person whose work or message will be understood is the ordinary citizens. Also, terrorists have developed even communication gadgets which can communicate at frequencies which are difficult to tap. So as to fully deal with such problems and reduce intrusion into privacy, the acts should be corrected accordingly and personal data on the internet or during communication should be made confidential. On matters pertaining to wiretapping, the best mode to get these targets is by using advanced technology in detecting and getting the necessary codes to retrieve any encoded messages (Bill, paragraph 2).
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