DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Salma Yehia

FINAL

Research Paper: Patriot Act

Due: 3/9/12

The USA PATRIOT ACT: Defining the Line Between National Security and Civil Liberty

            The USA PATRIOT Act, signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, has been the highlight of many criticisms in the years following its enactment.  The title of the Act is an acronym that stands for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The Act reformed the way law enforcement and immigration authorities dealt with the detaining and deporting of suspected terrorists. The Act also broadened the government's powers to combat terrorism and contained controversial surveillance provisions. When the PATRIOT Act was first passed, both the Democratic Party and the GOP overwhelmingly supported the Act. In the Senate, the vote was 98 to 1. However, as the years progressed many have criticized the act for its unclear language, unlawful warrants, and indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects. The USA PATRIOT Act is very controversial and its implications on the rest of world are great.  Muslims were unfairly scrutinized and many civil liberty advocates were angry. The conflict between a citizen’s right to privacy and national security is the basis for people’s discontent with the PATRIOT ACT. Although this conflict is important, it has been excessively analyzed; therefore leaving much broader questions about the Act unaddressed. People get preoccupied in the emotions and minutiae of the PATRIOT Act that they don’t understand the reason why the Act was enacted in the first place. The reason for the Act’s enactment becomes less important, and the focus is directed only to the negative aspects of the Act instead of the benefits. These different views take away from the important facts of the PATRIOT Act. Although the PATRIOT Act had its faults, its purpose was to first and foremost protect the citizens of the United States.

I first entered the research project with a research question that I felt comfortable and knowledgably about. Before I had even begun my research, I was confident that I already had an answer to my research question. I started out questioning the effect of the Patriot Act on Muslims and was basing my thesis on how misconceptions fueled bigotry and unfair detainment by the government.  I instantly agreed with the general public nowadays about the vagueness of the Patriot Act. However, the further I researched, the more I was exposed to arguments for both sides of the dispute; and I became more lost amidst argument. As I continued my research, I realized the importance of truly understanding the implications and reasons behind the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act. The greatest implication I found is the conflict between civil liberties (privacy) and national security.

Walking into the airport terminal, my grandmother, sister, and I prepared to walk though security.  It was my first experience in the airport wearing the headscarf. However, instead of casually passing by the detector, my frail thin figured grandmother and I were pulled to the side for further examination. We were patted down and examined thoroughly. They patted down our scarfs to make sure there was nothing hidden in them. I felt insulted and hurt. In my mind, I believed that I was being investigated on the sole fact that I am Muslim. I did not enjoy the fact that the country I was born in might believe that I am “evil” and a terrorist. This is why at first I opposed the PATRIOT Act.

After 9/11 there was an increased suspicion against Muslims.  The terrorist attacks “solidified the preexisting image of Muslims as dangerous and threatening outsiders” (Peek 7). This bad image of Muslims was further exaggerated when the PATRIOT Act was enacted because it created a legal framework for targeting Muslims. An example of this increased suspicion can be found in the series editor’s foreword of the book, Detained without Cause. Irum Shiekh, was inspired to research the topic of post 9/11 detentions after the investigation of two of her own brothers. Shiekh described how her brother, Anjum Shiekh, was investigated by FBI officials. Even after confirming that he had served in the US military for over 20 years and was a retired US air force officer and pilot, the officers insisted on searching his apartment in his absence and threated to break down the doors of the home if necessary(1). Although Anjum was not arrested, if someone in the airport noticed his Arab looks or accent, they would stop and search him. Similar to Anjum’s case, the majority of 9/11 arrests occurred through tips and racial profiling.  This means that individuals who “slightly resembled the 19 hijackers- those whom officers perceived as being from Middle East- were subject to surveillance, scrutiny, and detentions ” ( Shiekh 10).

When hearing the accounts of people who were deeply affected by the PATRIOT Act, I began to sympathize with each individual case I read---especially since I am an American Muslim myself. A particularly emotional case was one of Mohammed Azmath and Ayub Ali Khan. They were on their way for a potential job when law enforcement officers arrested them. They were featured in all major newspapers. A month later, the New York Times reported:  “The Federal Bureau of Investigation interpreted the closely cut hair, and otherwise shaven bodies, as a possible sign that the men…might have already been ready to die…and were prepared to meet Allah” (Shiekh 31). These men were accused of being terrorists simply because there was a mild suspicion- specifically because they looked Middle Eastern.  How a person can be judged for the way they look is something intolerable. The most emotionally compelling part of this story was that Azmath’s wife was left to give birth to a boy alone, as Azmath was detained. She stated that the 1 year old would keep saying “Dad come home. Dad come home” in hopes to one day see his father (Sheikh 41). It is not only those detained that suffer, but it is also the families that have to deal with the scandalous news reports and absence of a family member. Throughout the case the author, Irum Sheikh, describes the events of specific detainees and provides newspaper articles parallel with what was actually happening in the minds of the individuals. The author is showing how the newspapers kept feeding misinformation to the public who knew nothing about “terrorists”.  The general public receives most of their information from the media which creates false trust in biased newspapers. Information can’t be received through biases because further biases emerge. One can’t simply trust one source without looking at other information from other sources. This will help one to form a more education and impartial opinion.

Emotions are also a form of partiality. Therefore, I will refrain from using pathos when explaining the cases. Of course, I cannot deny the fact that the detainment of these innocent people was wrong. Every human unlawfully detained and everybody treated inhumanely touches me in a personal way. Therefore, because I feel emotionally attached to the stories, I cannot continue to fill this research paper with my own biases.  I cannot blind myself to one side of an argument simply because of emotions. Therefore I have to reject any “feelings” that may arise and only focus on pure facts. When beginning a research paper one needs to restrict emotions, pre-existing notions, and personal opinion because they create biases that can hinder the insight and true knowledge of the subject. Only when the facts have been stated that one can continue to input personal opinions.

The foundation of the United States was built on a place of freedom. The Bill of Rights constantly emphasizes the importance of civil liberties. Many have criticized the PATRIOT Act for its vague language and “un-American” values. The most popular sections criticized are those on roving wiretaps, “sneak and peek” warrants, and National Security Papers. Sec. 218 and 206 of the PATRIOT Act speak of the wiretapping that occurs by the government. Roving wiretaps are a form of eavesdropping executed by placing a concealed recording or listening device in the transmission line.  This section of the Patriot Act specifically allows "roving wiretaps" against suspected spies and terrorists. However many criticize that the language of the Act could lead to privacy violations of anyone who comes into casual contact with a suspect. Section 218 discusses the facilitation of getting permission to wiretap or search a home through the PATRIOT Act because instead of proving “primary purpose” (which needs greater concrete evidence for a warrant) an investigator now only has to show “significant purpose”. The fact that a regular American citizen can be searched for simply having a conversation with another citizen is something unjust. No one should infringe on another person’s liberty because it goes against the foundations of American society.

Another important part of the PATRIOT Act is the extended use of National Security Letters, which allows the FBI to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order. These letters also contain a gag order which prevents the recipient of the letter from disclosing that the letter was ever issued. Critics disapprove of both because foreign intelligence investigations are “conducted in secret, with little oversight” and “critics say abuses could be difficult to uncover” (Abramson). The secrecy of the government is something that unnerves many citizens. Secrecy can also make it easier for the government to abuse its power. However, with all these criticisms, a thought then arises:  Maybe our civil liberties have been focused and criticized too much.  Is there anything beneficial from the PATRIOT Act? What about the importance of national security?

The PATRIOT Act was passed so quickly in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks. Yet people are fully against it nowadays. Of course, the Act had its faults and so people started to doubt it. However, this does not mean we should only look at the negative impacts of the PATRIOT Act. Overall, the Act has detected and foiled terrorist attacks and protected the American people. People tend to deny this by saying that the government is too secretive. A counter-argument is that in many cases, it is more logical for the government to be secretive. This is because publicly discussing every threat to the US would further scare and worry citizens as well as further endanger national security.

The purpose of the government is to firstly protect its citizens.  John Locke, whose ideas were influential to the founding principles of our nation, would have agreed that national security takes precedence over civil liberties. He stated that society is bonded to a social contract: people will have to give up some of their civil liberties in order for their property---which includes body as well as physical belongings---to be rightfully protected. Therefore, property needs to be guarded, through national security, even if some of our civil liberties are infringed upon.

People who support the PATRIOT Act do exist, but in less substantial numbers than the opposing side. However, as John Stuart Mill, an influential British philosopher, emphasizes in On Liberty, the majority may oppress the minority. But we cannot simply listen to the majority because the majority of people may actually be wrong. Although critics of the PATRIOT Act “do not believe that the government should ever act in secret,” Mary DeRosa raises an important question: “[a] transparent approach may satisfy those...who believe that the American people have no greater enemy than their own government, but it fails to answer the majority question: how would it possibly be effective in protecting the country” (qtd in Baker 105). To protect the country, the government needs to sometimes act in secrecy. If everyone knew everything, our country would be placed into excessive danger. On the controversial topic of “sneak and peek” warrants, Heather McDonald states that critics “present section 213, which they have dubbed ‘sneak and peek’, as one of the most outrageous powers seized”.  McDonald herself, however, believes that “the idea that section 213 is a radical new power is a rank fabrication. Federal courts have allowed investigators to delay notice of a search in drug cases, organized crime, and child pornography, for the same reasons as in section 213” (qtd in Baker 103). McDonald is saying that there should be no controversy over “sneak and peek” warrants. Since the concept has been around long before the implementation of the PATRIOT Act, then the time to point out any flaws in the concept has long passed.

Usually, national security becomes the first priority following an attack on the country. However, this protection of national security usually fades away as the attack becomes a part of history. Many times it is those in government such as the President of the United States who stay true to protecting the country, even after the event has long passed. President Bush advocated liberty, but understood that in order to gain liberty, one was to first protect the country. In a speech he gave on January 23, 2006 Bush explained the importance of liberty. He stated that, “... if you believe freedom yields the peace, it’s important for the United States of America, with friends, to lead the cause of liberty… I am saying, free your people, understand that liberty is universal, and help lay that foundation of peace for generations to come”. The United Sates is a main supporter of liberty, but the means to gain increased liberty is through national security.However to ensure that liberty, President Bush said, in a speech on March 9,2006 on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, that the PATRIOT Act was implemented as a form of national security . The Act “has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. It has helped us detect terror cells, disrupt terrorist plots and save American lives (Foreign Policy Bulletin).”

As I came near the end of my research, I made a final and important observation of the conflict between privacy and national security. When security is first threatened, people will do anything to protect themselves. When the BOR (Bill of Rights) campaign began in 2001, public support for civil liberties was low and, “in the weeks following 9/11 a majority of Americans believed it would be necessary to sacrifice some personal freedoms to fight terrorism effectively.” However as the years passed by, “this figure dropped to 49% by June 2002 and to 38% by July 2004. President Bush’s approval rating “fell more dramatically, from about 90% shortly after the 9/11 attacks to the low forties in 2005. As public opinion shifted, attention to the erosion of civil liberties gained traction” (Vasi and Strang). This steep decline was the result of a safety net that had been developed after the enactment of the PATRIOT Act and other protections against terrorism. People began assuming that they are safe. Right after 9/11, people’s belief in immunity against attacks on American soil was destroyed and people would do anything to protect themselves from harm--even if that meant giving up some liberties for an overall increase in national security. However, as feelings of immunity slowly started to rebuild,   people once again regained confidence that no one can attack the US; and began fighting for their civil liberties. However, simply because there seems that there is no more threat to the US doesn’t mean that one should forget the importance of national security. Taking out the USA PATRIOT Act, and blaming the government for its deceiving nature will not protect American Citizens any better; it will also not help the gaining of civil liberties.  I believe that in the case of the Patriot Act, restricting our liberties was acceptable as it was for the greater cause of protecting our property. Property, of us and of our physical belongings, comes first because without property of oneself, one has no civil liberties to enjoy. Therefore, one needs to be secure before obtaining any form of liberty.

As people continue to debate the PATRIOT Act, there will always be those who believe that the Act makes the nation less free. However, the country is freer than its opposition will have you believe. Although he was talking about the Iraq War, President Bush’s words ring true regarding the opinions on the PATRIOT Act: “A lot of people, I understand, disagreed with that decision, and that’s what democracy is all about, that’s what we believe in. We believe you can disagree. There’s a custom in our country for people to express themselves, and it’s good. It’s what makes us a great country, is that people can stand up and tell people what’s on their mind. And we’re going to keep it that way” (Foreign Policy Bulletin). Therefore, to keep with the traditions of American society, opinions and thoughts should not be dismissed. One should welcome new ideas to the table. However, before accepting each idea, one has to analyze the opinion and understand the context of each idea.

Each time I am at the airport I am still searched from head to toe. The first time, I was confused and was immediately angry because I hadn’t understood the situation. However, after understanding the provisions of the PATRIOT Act and understanding the reasons for why it was passed in the first place, I see this incident from a new light. Now I respect the people at the airport who, similar to soldiers, are saving and protecting the American people from harm. They are risking an encounter with potential terrorists and are simply following rules in order to protect American citizens. Looking three years back, I was naïve and could not comprehend the precedence of national security over civil liberties. However, I now understand the importance of sacrificing some freedoms in order to gain protection as American citizens.

 

 

 
 

 

 

Works Cited

Abramson, By Larry, and Maria Godoy. "NPR: The Patriot Act: Key Controversies." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. 14 Feb. 2006. National Public Radio. 09 Feb. 2012 <http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactprovisions.html>.

Baker, Stewart A., and John Kavanagh. Patriot Debates: Experts Debate the USA Patriot Act. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 2005. Print. 

Foreign Policy Bulletin. "Bush Defends Domestic Wiretapping Program; Congress Reauthorizes Patriot Act." Foreign Policy Bulletin (2006).           

Peek, Lori A. Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2011. Print

Shiekh, Irum. Detained without cause: Muslims' stories of detention and deportation in America after 9/11. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Vasi, Ion Bogdan, and David Strang. "Civil Liberty in America: The Diffusion of Municipal Bill of Rights Resolutions after the Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act1." American Journal of Sociology 114 (2009). Web.

Yee, James, and Aimee Molloy. For God and country: Faith and patriotism under fire. New York: Public Affairs, 2005.

 

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Salma Yehia

Research Paper: Patriot Act

Draft #2

Due: 3/9/12

The USA PATRIOT ACT: Defining the Line Between National Security and Civil Liberty

            The USA PATRIOT Act, signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, has been the highlight of many criticisms in the years following its enactment.  The title of the Act is an acronym that stands for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The Act reformed the way law enforcement and immigration authorities dealt with the detaining and deporting of those suspected of terrorism. The Act also broadened the government's powers to combat terrorism and contained controversial surveillance provisions. When the PATRIOT Act was first passed, both the Democratic Party and the GOP overwhelmingly supported the Act. In the Senate, the vote was 98 to 1. However, as the years progressed there have been many who criticize the act for its unclear language, unlawful warrants, and indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects. The USA PATRIOT Act is very controversial and its implications on the rest of world are great.  Muslims were unfairly scrutinized and many civil liberty advocates were angry. The conflict between a citizen’s right to privacy and national security is the basis for people’s discontent with the PATRIOT ACT. However, people get preoccupied in the emotions and details that they don’t understand the reason why the Act was enacted in the first place. The reason for the Act’s enactment becomes less important, and people focus only to the negative aspects of the Act instead of the benefits. These different views take away from the important facts of the PATRIOT Act. Although the PATRIOT Act had its faults, its purpose was to first and foremost protect the citizens of the United States.

The research project first began with the discussing of something that I felt comfortable and was somewhat knowledgeable about. I started out questioning the effect of the Patriot Act on Muslims and was basing my thesis on how misconceptions fueled bigotry and unfair detainment by the government.  I instantly agreed with the general public nowadays about the vagueness of the Patriot Act. However, the further I researched, the more arguments there were for both sides and the more lost amidst argument I became. As I continued my research, I realized the importance of truly understanding why the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted in the first place and its implications. The greatest implication is the conflict between civil liberties (privacy) and national security.

Walking into the airport terminal, my grandmother, sister, and I prepared to walk though security.  It was my first experience in the airport wearing the headscarf. However, instead of casually passing by the detector, my frail thin figured grandmother and I are pulled to the side for further examination. We were patted down and examined thoroughly. They patted down our scarfs to make sure there was nothing hidden in them. I felt insulted and hurt that just because I am Muslim they thought I might be inherently “evil” and am a terrorist. This is why at first I opposed the PATRIOT Act.

After 9/11 there was an increased suspicion against Muslims.  The terrorist attacks “solidified the preexisting image of Muslims as dangerous and threatening outsiders” (Peek 7). This bad image of Muslims was further exaggerated when the PATRIOT Act was put in place because it created a legal framework for targeting Muslims. An example of this suspicion can be found in the series editor’s foreword of the book, Detained without Cause. Irum Shiekh ( give detail of importance of author), the author, described how his brother, Anjum Shiekh, was investigated by FBI officials. Even after confirming that he had served in the US military for over 20 years and was a retired US air force officer and pilot, the officers insisted on searching his apartment in his absence and threated to break down the doors of the home if necessary(1). Although Anjum was not arrested, if someone in the airport noticed his Muslim looks or accent, they would stop and search him. Similar to Anjum’s case, “ the overwhelming majority of September 11 arrests occurred through  tips and racial profiling; the general public called and reported suspicious people and law enforcement officers stopped and questioned individuals based on their race and religious profile. This means that individuals who slightly resembled he 19 hijackers- those whom officers perceived as being from Middle East- were subject to surveillance, scrutiny, and detentions ” ( Shiekh PAGE # ).

            When hearing each of these accounts of people who were deeply affect by the PATRIOT Act, especially as an American Muslim, I begin to sympathize with each individual case I read. A particularly emotional case was one of Mohammed Azmath and Ayub Ali Khan. They were on their way for a potential job when law enforcement officers arrested them. They were featured in all major newspapers. A month later, the New York Times reported:  “The Federal Bureau of Investigation interpreted the closely cut hair, and otherwise shaven bodies, as a possible sign that the men…might have already been ready to die…and were prepared to meet Allah” (Shiekh 31). These men were accused of being terrorists simply because there was a mild suspicion- specifically because they looked Middle Eastern. The most emotionally compelling part of this story was that Azmath’s wife was left to give birth to a boy alone, as Azmath was detained. She stated that the 1 year old would keep saying “Dad come home. Dad come home” in hopes to one day see his father (Sheikh 41). Throughout the case the author, Irum Sheikh, describes the events and gives newspaper articles parallel with what was actually happening in the minds of the individuals. The author is showing how the newspapers kept feeding misinformation to the public who knew nothing about “terrorists”. All of the general public received their information came from the media which created false trust in bias newspapers. Information can’t be received through biases because further biases emerge. With any source, there are biases. One can’t simply believe a source without looking at other resources to form a more clear opinion. (need to be more clear here)

Emotions are also a form of partiality. Therefore, I will refrain from using pathos when explaining the cases. Of course, this does not deny the fact that the detainment of these innocent people was wrong. But, this is not what this essay focuses on. Every story, body innocently detained and human treated inhumanely touches me personally. Therefore, because I feel emotionally attached to the stories, I cannot continue to fill this research paper with my own biases.  I cannot blind myself to one side of an argument simply because of emotions. Therefore I have to reject any “feelings” that may arise and only focus on pure facts. When beginning a research paper one needs to restrict emotions, pre-existing notions, and personal opinion because they create biases that can hinder the insight and true knowledge of the subject. Only when the facts have been stated that one can continue to input personal opinions.

The foundation of the United States was built on a place of freedom. The Bill of Rights constantly emphasizes the importance of civil liberties. Many have criticized the PATRIOT Act for its vague language and “un-American” values. The most popular sections criticized are those on roving wiretaps, “sneak and peek” warrants, and National Security Papers. Sec. 218 and 206 of the PATRIOT Act speak of the wiretapping that occurs by the government. Roving wiretaps are a form of eavesdropping executed by placing a concealed recording or listening device in the transmission line.  This section of the Patriot Act specifically allows "roving wiretaps" against suspected spies and terrorists. However many criticize the language of the act could lead to privacy violations of anyone who comes into casual contact with a suspect. Section 218 discusses the facilitation of getting permission to wiretap or search a home through the PATRIOT Act because instead of proving “primary purpose” (which needs greater concrete evidence for a warrant) an investigator now only has to show “significant purpose”.  Another important part of the PATRIOT Act is the extended use of National Security Letters, which allows the FBI to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order. These letters also contain a gag order which prevents the recipient of the letter from disclosing that the letter was ever issued. Critics disapprove of both because foreign intelligence investigations are “conducted in secret, with little oversight” and “critics say abuses could be difficult to uncover” (Abramson).  However, with all these criticisms, a thought then arises:  Maybe our civil liberties have been focused and criticized too much.  Is there anything beneficial from the PATRIOT Act? What about the importance of national security?

The PATRIOT Act was passed so quickly in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks; yet, people are fully against it nowadays. Of course, the Act had its faults and so people started to doubt it. However, this does not mean we should look at just the negative impacts of the PATRIOT Act. Overall, the Act has detected and foiled terrorist attacks, and protected its people. People tend to deny this by saying that the government is too secretive. However, in many cases it is more logical for the government to be secretive. This is because publicly discussing every threat to the US would further scare and worry citizens as well as further endanger national security (the discussion of how much information the citizens should know about what is happening in government is a debate for another day). The purpose of the government is to firstly protect its citizens.  John Locke, who was a key influential figure in the founding principles of our nation, would have agreed that national security takes precedence over civil liberties. He stated that society is bonded to a social contract and that people will have to give up some of their civil liberties in order for their property to be rightfully protected (which includes body as well as physical belongings). Therefore, property needs to be guarded, through national security, even if some of our civil liberties are infringed upon.

People who support the PATRIOT Act do exist, but in less substantial numbers than the opposing side. However, as John Stuart Mill, an influential British philosopher, emphasizes in On Liberty, the majority may oppress the minority. But, we cannot simply listen to the majority because the majority of people may actually be wrong. Although critics of the PATRIOT Act “do not believe that the government should ever act in secret”, Mary DeRosa (part of this minority) raises an important question: a “transparent approach may satisfy those...who believe that the American people have no greater enemy than their own government, but it fails to answer the majority question: how would it possibly be effective in protecting the country” (Baker 105). Protecting the country means that sometimes the government needs to act in secrecy and that if everyone knew everything, our country can be put in excessive danger. On the controversial topic of “sneak and peek” warrants, Heather McDonald states that critics “present section 213, which they have dubbed ‘sneak and peek’, as one of the most outrageous powers seized”.  In reality, she believes that “the idea that section 213 is a radical new power is a rank fabrication. Federal courts have allowed investigators to delay notice of a search in drug cases, organized crime, and child pornography, for the same reasons as in section 213 (Baker 103).” Therefore, the controversy over “sneak and peek” warrants should not be controversial. They have been around long before the PATRIOT Act was enacted and not one has complained.

Usually, national security becomes the first priority following an attack on the country. However, this protection of national security usually fades away as the attack becomes a part of history. Many times it is those in government such as the President of the United States who stay true to protecting the country, even after the event has long passed. President Bush advocated liberty, but understood that in order to gain liberty, one was to first protect the country. In a speech he gave on January 23, 2006 Bush explained the importance of liberty. He stated that, “... if you believe freedom yields the peace, it’s important for the United States of America, with friends, to lead the cause of liberty… I am saying, free your people, understand that liberty is universal, and help lay that foundation of peace for generations to come”. However to ensure that liberty, President Bush said, in a speech on March 9,2006 on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, that the PATRIOT Act was implemented as a form of national security . The Act “has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. It has helped us detect terror cells, disrupt terrorist plots and save American lives (Foreign Policy Bulletin).”

As I came near the end of my research, I made a final and important observation of the conflict between privacy and national security. When security is first threatened, people will do anything to protect themselves. When the BOR (Bill of Rights) campaign began in 2001, public support for civil liberties was low and, “in the weeks following 9/11 a majority of Americans believed it would be necessary to sacrifice some personal freedoms to fight terrorism effectively.” However as the years passed by, “this figure dropped to 49% by June 2002 and to 38% by July 2004. President Bush’s approval rating “fell more dramatically, from about 90% shortly after the 9/11 attacks to the low forties in 2005. As public opinion shifted, attention to the erosion of civil liberties gained traction (Vasi and Strang).” This steep decline was the result of a safety net that had been developed after the enactment of the PATRIOT Act and other protections against terrorism. People began assuming that they are safe. Right after 9/11, people’s belief in immunity against attacks on American soil was destroyed and people would do anything to protect themselves from harm (even giving up some liberties for an overall increase in national security). However, as feelings of immunity slowly started to rebuild,   people once again regained confidence that no one can attack the US; and began fighting for their civil liberties. However, simply because there seems that there is no more threat to the US doesn’t mean that one should forget the importance of national security. Taking out the USA PATRIOT Act, and blaming the government for its deceiving nature will not protect American Citizens any better; it will also not help the gaining of civil liberties.  I believe that in the case of the Patriot Act, restricting our liberties was acceptable as it was for the greater cause of protecting our property. Property, of us and of our physical belongings, comes first because without property of oneself, one has no civil liberties to enjoy. Therefore, one needs to be secure before obtaining any form of liberty.

As people continue to debate the PATRIOT Act, there will always be people who believe that the Act makes the nation less free. However, the country is freer than its opposition will have you believe. Although he was talking about the Iraq War, President Bush’s words ring true regarding the opinions on the PATRIOT Act: “A lot of people, I understand, disagreed with that decision, and that’s what democracy is all about, that’s what we believe in. We believe you can disagree. There’s a custom in our country for people to express themselves, and it’s good. It’s what makes us a great country, is that people can stand up and tell people what’s on their mind. And we’re going to keep it that way” (Foreign Policy Bulletin).

Each time I am at the airport I am still searched from head to toe. The first time, I was confused and was immediately angry because I hadn’t understood the situation. However, after understanding the provisions of the PATRIOT Act and understanding the reasons for why it was passed in the first place, I see this incident from new light. Now I respect the people at the airport who, similar soldiers, are saving and protecting the American people from harm. They are risking an encounter with potential terrorists and are simply following rules in order to protect American citizens. Looking three years back, I was naïve and could not comprehend the precedence of national security over civil liberties. However, I now understand the importance of sacrificing some freedoms in order to gain protection as American citizens.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Abramson, By Larry, and Maria Godoy. "NPR: The Patriot Act: Key Controversies." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. 14 Feb. 2006. National Public Radio. 09 Feb. 2012 <http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactprovisions.html>.

Baker, Stewart A., and John Kavanagh. Patriot Debates: Experts Debate the USA Patriot Act. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 2005. Print.

Foreign Policy Bulletin. "Bush Defends Domestic Wiretapping Program; Congress Reauthorizes Patriot Act." Foreign Policy Bulletin 16 (2006).                 

Peek, Lori A. Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2011. Print

Shiekh, Irum. Detained without cause: Muslims' stories of detention and deportation in America after 9/11. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Vasi, Ion Bogdan, and David Strang. "Civil Liberty in America: The Diffusion of Municipal Bill of Rights Resolutions after the Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act1." American Journal of Sociology 114 (2009): 1716-764.

Yee, James, and Aimee Molloy. For God and country: Faith and patriotism under fire. New York: Public Affairs, 2005.

 

 

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Salma Yehia

Patriot Act Rough Draft #1

The USA PATRIOT ACT: Defining the Line Between National Security and Civil Liberty

( should I analyze the sources more…did I give too much background information…my method was to take the readers along the process of my research as Tompkins had…is that bad?)

            The USA PATRIOT Act, signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, has been the highlight of many criticisms in the years following its enactment.  The title of the Act is an acronym that stands for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The Act reformed the way law enforcement and immigration authorities dealt with the detaining and deporting of those suspected of terrorism. The Act also broadened the government's powers to combat terrorism and contained controversial surveillance provisions. When the PATRIOT Act was first passed, both the Democratic Party and the GOP overwhelmingly supported the Act. In the Senate, the vote was 98 to 1. However, as the years progressed there have been many who criticize the act for its unclear language, unlawful warrants, and indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects. The USA PATRIOT Act is very controversial and its implications on the rest of world are great.  Muslims were unfairly scrutinized and many civil liberty advocates were angry. However, people get bogged down in the emotions and details that they don’t understand the reason why the Act was enacted in the first place. The reason for the Act’s presence becomes less important, and people give attention to only the negative aspects of the Act instead of the benefits. These different views take away from the important facts of the PATRIOT Act. Although the PATRIOT Act had its faults, its purpose was to first and foremost protect the citizens of the United States.

Walking into the airport terminal, my grandmother, sister, and I prepare to walk though security.  It was my first experience in the airport wearing the headscarf. However, instead of casually passing by the detector, my frail thin figured grandmother and I are pulled to the side for further examination. We were patted down with caution. They patted down our scarfs to make sure there was nothing hidden in them. I felt insulted and hurt that just because I am Muslim, I might be inherently “evil” and am a terrorist. This is why at first I opposed the PATRIOT Act.

After 9/11 there seemed to be increased hatred against Muslims.  The terrorist attacks “solidified the preexisting image of Muslims as dangerous and threating outsiders” ( Peek 7). This bad image of Muslims was further exaggerated when the PATRIOT Act was put in place because it created a legal framework for targeting Muslims which further stimulated negative images of Muslims.  In the series editor’s foreword of the book, Irum Shiekh said that his brother, Anjum Shiekh, was investigated by FBI officials.  Even after confirming that he had served in the US military for over 20 years and was a retired US air force officer and pilot, the officers insisted on searching his apartment in his absence and threated to break down the doors of the home if necessary. Although Anjum was not arrested, if someone in the airport noticed his Muslim looks or accent, they would stop and search him. Similar to Anjum’s case, “ the overwhelming majority of September 11 arrests occurred through  tips and racial profiling; the general public called and reported suspicious people and law enforcement officers stopped and questioned individuals based on their race and religious profile. This means that individuals who slightly resembled he 19 hijackers- those whom officers perceived as being from Middle East- were subject to surveillance, scrutiny, and detentions ” ( Shiekh).

            When hearing about each of these very personal cases, especially as an American Muslim, I begin to sympathize with each individual case I read. A particularly emotional case was one of Mohammed Azmath and Ayub Ali Khan. They were on their way for a potential job when law enforcement officers arrested them. They were featured in all major newspapers. A month later, the New York Times reported:  “The Federal Bureau of Investigation interpreted the closely cut hair, and otherwise shaven bodies, as a possible sign that the men…might have already been ready to die in a similar attack, and were prepared to meet Allah” (Shiekh 31). The most emotionally compelling part of this story was that Azmath’s wife was left to give birth to a boy alone, as Azmath was detained. She stated that the 1 year old would keep saying “Dad come home. Dad come home” in hopes to one day see his father (Sheikh 41). Throughout the case the author, Irum Sheikh, describes the events and gives newspaper articles parallel with what was actually happening in the minds of the individuals. The author is showing how the newspapers kept feeding misinformation to the public who knew nothing about “terrorists”. All of the general public received their info came from the media which created false trust in bias newspapers. When information is received through biases, further biases emerge. With any source, there are biases. One can’t simply believe a source without looking at other resources to form a more clear opinion.

Emotions are also a form of bias. Therefore, I must reject the use of pathos when explaining the cases. Of course, this does not deny the fact that the detainment of these innocent people was wrong. But, this is not what this essay should focus on. Each personal story of the detained people touched my heart, I was on the verge of crying with each story I read. Yet, in such situations one has to restrict emotions because emotions themselves create biases. And I want the research I have done to not blind me to only one side of an argument simply because I can emotionally connect with these stories. When beginning a research paper one needs to restrict emotions, pre-existing notions, and personal opinion because they create biases that can hinder the insight and true knowledge of the subject. Only when the facts have been stated that one can continue to input personal opinions. 

The research project first began with the discussing of something that I felt comfortable and was somewhat knowledgeable about. I started out questioning the effect of the Patriot Act on Muslims and was basing my thesis on how misconceptions fueled bigotry and unfair detainment by the government.  I instantly agreed with the general public nowadays about the vagueness of the Patriot Act. However as I continued my research, I realized the importance of truly understanding why the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted in the first place and its implications. The greatest implication is the conflict between civil liberties (privacy) and national security.

The Patriot Act was passed so quickly at the time of the 9/11 attacks yet nowadays people are fully against it. Of course, the Act had its faults and so people started to doubt it. However, this does not mean we should look at just the negative impacts of the PATRIOT Act. Overall, the Act has detected and foiled terrorist attacks, and protected its people. People tend to deny this by saying that the government is being too private. However, in many cases it is more logical for the government to be secretive because publicly discussing every threat to the US would further scare and worry citizens as well as further endanger national security. (The discussion of how much information the citizens should know about what is happening in government is a debate for another day). The purpose of the government is to firstly protect its citizens.  John Locke had a similar idea. He stated that society is bonded to a social contract and that people will have to give up some of their civil liberties in order for their property to be rightfully protected (which includes body as well as physical belongings).

The foundation of the United States was built on a place of freedom. The Bill of Rights constantly emphasizes the importance of civil liberties. Many have criticized the PATRIOT Act for its vague language and “un-American” values. The most popular sections criticized are those on roving wiretaps, “sneak and peek” warrants, and National Security Papers. Sec. 218 and 206 of the PATRIOT Act speak of the wiretapping that occurs by the government. Roving wiretaps are a form of eavesdropping executed by placing a concealed recording or listening device in the transmission line.  This section of the Patriot Act specifically allows "roving wiretaps" against suspected spies and terrorists. However many criticize the language of the act could lead to privacy violations of anyone who comes into casual contact with a suspect. Section 218 discusses the facilitation of getting permission to wiretap or search a home through the PATRIOT Act because instead of proving “primary purpose” an investigator now only has to show “significant purpose”. Another important part of the PATRIOT Act is the extended use of National Security Letters, which allows the FBI to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order. These letters also contain a gag order which prevents the recipient of the letter from disclosing that the letter was ever issued. Critics disapprove of both because foreign intelligence investigations are “conducted in secret, with little oversight” and “critics say abuses could be difficult to uncover” (Abramson).  However, with all these criticisms, a thought then arises:  Maybe our civil liberties have been focused and criticized too much.  Is there anything beneficial from the PATRIOT Act? What about the importance of national security?

People who support the PATRIOT Act do exist, but in less substantial numbers than the opposing side. However, as John Stuart Mill emphasizes in On Liberty, the majority may oppress the minority. But, we cannot simply listen to the majority because the majority of people may actually be wrong. Although critics of the PATRIOT Act “do not believe that the government should ever act in secret”, Mary DeRosa raises an important question: “ transparent approach may satisfy those...who believe that the American people have no greater enemy than their own government, but it fails to answer the majority question: how would it possibly be effective in protecting the country (Baker 105).” Protecting the country means that sometimes the government needs to act in secrecy and that if everyone knew everything, our country can be put in excessive danger. On the topic of “sneak and peek” warrants, Heather McDonald states that critics “present section 213 which they have dubbed ‘sneak and peek’ as one of the most outrageous powers seized”. In reality, she believes that “the idea that section 213 is a radical new power is a rank fabrication. Federal courts have allowed investigators to delay notice of a search in drug cases, organized crime, and child pornography, [ even before the enactment of the PATRIOT Act] for the same reasons as in section 213 (Baker 103).”

Usually, the defense of national security follows an attack on the country. However, this defense usually fades away as the attack becomes a part of history. Many times it is those in government such as the President of the United States who stay true to protecting the country, even after the event has long passed. President Bush advocated liberty, but understood that in order to gain liberty, one was to first protect the country. In a speech he gave on January 23, 2006 he stated that “... if you believe freedom yields the peace, it’s important for the United States of America, with friends, to lead the cause of liberty… I am saying, free your people, understand that liberty is universal, and help lay that foundation of peace for generations to come”. However to ensure that liberty President Bush says, in a speech on March 9,2006 on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, that the PATRIOT Act “has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. It has helped us detect terror cells, disrupt terrorist plots and save American lives (Foreign Policy Bulletin).”

As I came near the end of my research, I made a final and important observation of the conflict between privacy and national security. When security is first threatened people will do anything to protect themselves. When the BOR (Bill of Rights) campaign began in 2001, public support for civil liberties was low and, “in the weeks following 9/11 a majority of Americans believed it would be necessary to sacrifice some personal freedoms to fight terrorism effectively.” However as the years passed by, “this figure dropped to 49% by June 2002 and to 38% by July 2004. President Bush’s approval rating “fell more dramatically, from about 90% shortly after the 9/11 attacks to the low forties in 2005. As public opinion shifted, attention to the erosion of civil liberties gained traction (Vasi and Strang).” This steep decline was the result of a safety net that had been developed after the enactment of the PATRIOT Act and other protections against terrorism. People began assuming that they are safe. Right after 9/11, people’s belief in immunity against attacks on American soil was destroyed and people would do anything to protect themselves from harm (even giving up some liberties for an overall increase in national security). However, as feelings of immunity slowly started to rebuild,   people once again regained confidence that no one can attack the US; and began fighting for their civil liberties. However, simply because there seems that there is no more threat to the US doesn’t mean that one should forget the importance of national security. Taking out the USA PATRIOT Act, and blaming the government for its deceiving nature will not protect American Citizens any better; it will also not help the gaining of civil liberties. I believe that in the case of the Patriot Act, restricting our liberties was acceptable as it was for the greater cause of protecting our property. Property, of us and of our physical belongings, comes first because without property of oneself, one has no civil liberties to enjoy. Therefore, one needs to be secure before obtaining any form of liberty.

As people continue to debate the PATRIOT Act, there will always be people who believe that the Act makes the nation less free. However, the country is freer than critics will have you believe. Although he was talking about the Iraq War, President Bush’s words ring true regarding the opinions on the PATRIOT Act: “A lot of people, I understand, disagreed with that decision, and that’s what democracy is all about, that’s what we believe in. We believe you can disagree. There’s a custom in our country for people to express themselves, and it’s good. It’s what makes us a great country, is that people can stand up and tell people what’s on their mind. And we’re going to keep it that way” (Foreign Policy Bulletin).

I have gotten used to being searched each time I am at the airport. The first time, I was confused and was immediately angry because I hadn’t understood the situation. However, after understanding the provisions of the PATRIOT Act and understanding the reasons for why it was passed in the first place, I see this incident from new light. Now I respect the people at the airport who, similar soldiers, are saving and protecting the American people from harm. They are risking an encounter with potential terrorists and are simply following rules in order to protect American citizens. Looking three years back, I am ok with having been searched because we all have to sacrifice some freedoms in order to gain protection as American citizens.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        Yehia  1

Salma Yehia

Professor Pierce

Rhetoric 102

3/2/2012

Work Cited

Abramson, By Larry, and Maria Godoy. "NPR: The Patriot Act: Key Controversies." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. 14 Feb. 2006. National Public Radio. 09 Feb. 2012 <http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactprovisions.html>.

Baker, Stewart A., and John Kavanagh. Patriot Debates: Experts Debate the USA Patriot Act. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 2005. Print. 

Foreign Policy Bulletin. "Bush Defends Domestic Wiretapping Program; Congress Reauthorizes Patriot Act." Foreign Policy Bulletin 16 (2006).                  

Peek, Lori A. Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2011. Print

Shiekh, Irum. Detained without cause: Muslims' stories of detention and deportation in America after 9/11. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

 

                                                                                                                                    Yehia 1

Vasi, Ion Bogdan, and David Strang. "Civil Liberty in America: The Diffusion of Municipal Bill of Rights Resolutions after the Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act1." American Journal of Sociology 114 (2009): 1716-764.

Yee, James, and Aimee Molloy. For God and country: Faith and patriotism under fire. New York: Public Affairs, 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Research OUTLINE-PATRIOT ACT

Salma Yehia

Patriot Act Outline

The USA PATRIOT ACT: Defining the Line Between National Security and Civil Liberty

  1. Introduction
    1. Description of my own experience racially profiled
  • Walking with grandmother and sister into security. They only checked me and my grandmother (describe her thin, frail figure) because we had the headscarf. They patted our scarfs to make sure there was nothing hidden in our scarfs. I felt insulted and hurt that just because I am Muslim, I might be inherently “evil” and am a terrorist.
  1. Emotional Appeal- hatred against Muslims after 9/11
    1. examples of  people getting detained and court cases- Effect of Patriot Act
  • Shiekh, Irum
  1. Hatred and racism against Muslims
  • Peek, Lori & Shiekh, Irum
  • Media as fueling misconceptions
  1. Emotions need to be restricted because they create biases
  • Speak on how this essay will try its best to show facts first and only have opinions when the truth, and both sides of the argument have been clarified
  • Of course, this does not deny the fact that the detainment of these innocent people was wrong. But, this is not what this essay will focus on. Each personal story of the detained people touched my heart, I was on the verge of crying with each story I read. Yet, in such situations one has to restrict emotions because emotions themselves create biases. And I want the research I have done to not blind me to only one side of an argument because I can emotionally connect with these stories.
  1. Taking a Step Back:
    1. The process of my research: Research question and Thesis
  • The research project began with me discussing something I felt comfortable and was somewhat knowledgeable about:  what was the effect of the Patriot Act on Muslims and how misconceptions fueled racism and unfair detainment by the government? I instantly agreed with the general public nowadays about the vagueness of the Patriot Act. However as I continued my research, I realized the importance of truly understanding Why the patriot act was enacted in the first place and its implications (Research Question). The greatest implication is the conflict between civil liberties (privacy) and national security which will be discussed in this essay
  • Thesis: when security is first threatened people will do anything to protect themselves. But as time passes privacy takes priority over civil liberties
  • Patriot Act was passed so quickly at the time of the 9/11 attacks yet nowadays people are fully against it.  One has to ask the reasons WHY it was passed so quickly. Of course, it had its faults and so people started to doubt it. However this does not mean we should look at just the negative impacts of the Act. Overall, the Act has detected and foiled terrorist attacks, and protected its people. Although of course the government cannot tell its people of all threats as that would further scare and worry citizens (the discussion of whether how much information the citizens should know about what is happening is a debate for another day). Government is actually trying to PROTECT PEOPLE. Ex. John Locke talked about the idea of the social contract: people will have to give up some of their civil liberties in order for their property to be rightfully protected (which includes body as well as physical belongings).
  1. Arguments for why the Patriot act is bad ( civil liberties)
    1. a.      Sec. 218- Foreign Intelligence Wiretaps and Searches and Sec. 206 Roving wiretaps ( NPR)
    2. Sec. 213 Sneak & Peek” Warrants and the National Security Papers (NPR)
    3. Vasi, Ion Bogdan
  2. Arguments for Why Patriot Act is Good ( national security)
    1. Bush quotes- (Foreign Policy Bulletin)
    2. Baker, Stewart A
  3. A case can be made for both sides however, now the question is which one is truly more important.
    1. I believe that in the case of the Patriot Act, restricting our liberties was acceptable as it was for the greater cause of protecting our property.
    2. Property comes first because without property of oneself and belongings one has no civil liberties to enjoy
    3. We live in a place where this property is taken for granted but when looking at things from a different perspective, one that is not clouded by biases, a new light is shed on topics that seem to have been endlessly talked about
  4. Conclusion
    1. Overall, a quote from Bush (although he was talking about the Iraq War can sum up:  “a lot of people, I understand, disagreed with that decision, and that’s what democracy is all about, that’s what we believe in. We believe you can disagree. There’s a custom in our country for people to express themselves, and it’s good. It’s what makes us a great country, is that people can stand up and tell people what’s on their mind. And we’re going to keep it that way.”
  • The fact that the US is able to debate and disagree is OK. If everyone had agreed with president Bush…necessary reforms to the Patriots act would not have emerged … ( Use NPR source)
  1. Speak about my personal story from beginning from a new light
  • Now I respect the people at the airport who, similar soldiers, are saving and protecting the American people from harm. They are risking an encounter with potential terrorists and are simply following rules in order to protect American citizens. Looking 3 years back, I am OK with being searched because I know I have nothing to hide and because we all have to sacrifice some freedoms in order to gain protection as an American citizen.
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.