Life & Liberty Essay

This essay has a total of 1106 words and 5 pages.

Life & Liberty

Life and Liberty
"A bill of rights are what the people are entitled to against every government, and what
no just government should refuse." -Thomas Jefferson 1781

"There has been no abuse of rights, and sometimes we must weigh rights against
responsibilities." -Attorney General John Ashcroft 2004


Since our founding fathers first drafted a constitution, America's core values have been
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; without interference from the government. For
the better part of two hundred years, Americans have focused on developing a fair and free
democracy, in which everyone has an equal say and as many individual rights and freedoms
as are possible in an effective society. Every once in a while, (America fights a major
war about every twenty years on average.) improving and maintaining democracy falls into
the shadows, and protecting what we have created becomes American's foremost concern.

The U.S.A. Patriot Act was passed on October 26, 2001, with almost no opposition from
Congress. (Senate 98-1, House of Representatives 357-66.)(Life & Liberty) The country was
still shaken by the event of September the 11th. In fact while the bill was in
deliberation, there was almost no opposition of any kind from special interest groups or
organizations nationwide. Once the bill was enacted, two distinct sides were formed, one
side confident that any loss of privacy was worth ensuring our safety and protecting our
free democracy, and the other side questioning whether the assurance of safety was worth
trading away our personal freedoms and right to privacy piece by piece.

The three-hundred forty-two page Patriot Act effects many American institutions, from
local laws and civil policies all the way up to the Constitution, and most
controversially, the Bill of Rights. The Bush administration maintains that the Act is an
instrumental device in counteracting terrorism. They point to Sections 203 through 211 of
the bill (Evergreen, Title II), which change the way information is shared among law
enforcement agencies, local, state and federal. Information that was previously kept
confidential and case specific is now to be relegated freely between local and state law
authorities, the FBI, ATF, DEA, CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security. This is said
by the administration to be an enormous step in preventing and tracking terrorists and
domestic criminals alike.

According to recent polls (Gallup), 58% of Americans believe the Patriot Act is strictly
beneficial to our country. There is however, a large minority of Americans who have many
with the stipulations the Patriot Act in retrospect to our personal freedoms and right to
privacy (Gallup).

Many groups, the largest and most powerful of which being the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) and the American Library Association (ALA), question the need to impose so
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