Does the PATRIOT Act Provide the Government with Excessive Power to Conduct Searches, Surveillances and Wiretaps of US Citizens?



PRO (yes)

The American Civil Liberties Union, in its July 2003 report "UNPATRIOTIC ACT: the FBI's Power to Rifle Through Your Records and Personal Belongings Without Telling You," stated:

"The USA PATRIOT Act vastly expands the FBI's authority to monitor people living in the United States. These powers can be used not only against terrorists and spies but also against ordinary, law abiding people – immigrants from Iraq or Italy, dentists from Detroit or Denver, truck drivers from Tampa or Tulsa, painters from Peoria or Pittsburgh. Indeed, the FBI can use these powers to spy on any United States citizen or resident."

July 2003 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 



The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), posted a statement in the PATRIOT Act section of its website (accessed Nov. 24, 2004) that stated, in part:

"Foreign and domestic intelligence agencies can more easily spy on Americans. Powers under the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have been broadened to allow for increased surveillance opportunities. FISA standards are lower than the constitutional standard applied by the courts in regular investigations. PATRIOT partially repeals legislation enacted in the 1970s that prohibited pervasive surveillance of Americans."

Nov. 24, 2004 - Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 



CON (no)

Claudia Winkler, Managing Editor of The Weekly Standard, wrote the Apr. 28, 2004 "Who's Afraid of the Patriot Act?" for The Daily Standard, which stated:

"To say the Patriot Act authorizes the FBI to spy on people because of their taste in reading is like saying that equipping beat cops with night sticks authorizes the police to bludgeon old ladies who annoy them. Sure, a rogue element at the FBI can run amok. It could before the Patriot Act. It can after the Patriot Act--not by doing what the law authorizes, but by breaking the law."

Apr. 28, 2004 - Claudia Anderson 



Robert S. Mueller, III, JD, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in his July 23, 2003 testimony before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, stated:

"Mr. Chairman, it is important for the Committee and the American people to know that the FBI is using the Patriot Act authorities in a responsible manner. We are making every effort to effectively balance our obligation to protect Americans from terrorism with our obligation to protect their civil liberties."

July 23, 2003 - Robert S. Mueller, III, JD