The Patriot Act, the law passed shortly after 9/11 in an effort to catch terrorists, is set to expire Monday. The U.S. will likely decide whether to renew the act, or let it expire. Although the American public overwhelmingly wants the Patriot Act to be reformed, the Senate will most likely renew the law in it’s current form.
President Obama expressed his admiration for the law that has been called the “most unpatriotic of acts” by Rand Paul.
“And heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”
Programs started under the Patriot Act were partly exposed in 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked troves of classified information. Among the documents that Snowden leaked were details of a telephone meta data collection program. Under this phone collection program, the data of nearly every phone call made was available to the National Security Agency.
Other–perhaps more worrisome–programs were also leaked by Edward Snowden. The documents made it clear that the NSA has indiscriminately been collecting data on virtually all Americans. Every email we send, every picture we share, is available to the government.
The issue is not whether the government should be able to spy on people. Just about everyone agrees that the government needs to be able to monitor certain people. The problem is that the government believes that they no longer need individualized warrants. Instead of monitoring a single suspect, the government gets a warrant (from a secret court) with the name Verizon on it, so they can spy on everyone.
According to a recent poll, most Americans want the Patriot Act to be reformed in some way. Many liberals and conservatives agree that indiscriminate surveillance on the American public is wrong.
[photo by Jonathan McIntosh]