According to Congress, the Patriot Act would protect America from its enemies who operated on American soil. the climate of fear in the weeks after the September 11 attacks and the haste with which the Patriot Act was passed allowed some of its more controversial aspects to escape adequate congressional scrutiny.” Clearly, the “fear frenzy” that took place after the September 11 attacks caused Americans to sacrifice essential civil rights in exchange for a sense of security.
Many Americans unquestionably accepted the Act to avoid the risk of being labeled “unpatriotic.” However, thousands of far-seeing Americans publicly questioned the actions of the government, but their cries were not heard. The only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act was Senator Feingold.
No longer can a newspaper editor publish an article that is critical of the government—even if it is legal—without fear that Big Brother may begin to survey his every thought and action.
This may very well be the most frightening aspect of the Patriot Act: the fact that the Act allows the government to spy on of its citizens, not just the bad ones.
Forty-five days after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, also known as the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act, or more simply, the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act was created with the noble intention of finding and prosecuting international terrorists operating on American soil; however, the unfortunate consequences of the Act have been drastic.
The Patriot Act does not demand sufficient proof that alleged “suspects” are engaged in criminal activity before authorizing government surveillance.
Even upstanding American citizens can become targets of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance simply because of the manner in which they exercise their First Amendment rights (Beeson).
When the House of Representatives sent the Patriot Act to the Senate, it passed with a vote of 96-1. Feingold is significant because he was the only Senator to fight against the Patriot Act before it was signed into law.
The arguments that he made against the Act during September and October of 2001 continue to point out the negative effects the Act has had on American life and will continue to have moving forward in the twenty-first century.