The USA PATRIOT Act: Increasing the size of government

Kevin Beaver

Below you will find expert Kevin Beaver's response to questions about how the PATRIOT Act affects individual security and civil liberties. This article is one of a group of expert answers to questions on this legislation.

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism -- a.k.a. the USA PATRIOT Act -- is a huge program with a catchy little title that does more to increase the size of government than it does to fight terrorism. It was easy to pass -- everyone was emotional over the unfortunate September 11 terrorist attacks. It was developed behind closed doors between Congress and the Bush Administration, and there was initially no debate or amendments allowed. It just passed -- unfortunately, using terrorism as an excuse to attack our individuality and personal freedoms. It's anything but patriotic.

From tracking large bank transactions, to tracking what books we check out from the library, to listening in on our e-mail conversations, the PATRIOT Act and the subsequent Cyber Security Enhancement Act (CSEA) have done little (and probably never will do a lot) to actually fight terrorists. Here are a few reasons why I think it's bad:

  • This legislation defines terrorists to include non-violent computer hackers and more. What happens when someone else sends a message threatening national security in your name!? That's going to be a tough one to prove.
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