Why I Opposed the Patriot Act

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the US Patriot Act. This legislation has long been criticized for taking unprecedented measures state surveillance. The anniversary is also an opportunity to reflect on how the Patriot Act skewed the checks and balances of our democracy – and what needs to be done to realign them.

I voted against the Patriot Act because it challenged the American people in terms of their civil rights, especially their personal rights, and especially those of color. Having my fears on that front to go in the past 20 years, and our country still has to fully face the discriminatory effects of the Patriot Act on communities of color.

On top of the cost of this civil rights legislation, I opposed the Patriot Act because the legislation lacks controls and counterweights. Congress has been asked to give tremendous authority to the executive and then step down and trust the executive to implement it responsibly.

The constitution makes it clear that Congress should be an important actor for the national security of our country. As Article III, Section 8, The Constitution states, “Congress has the power … to provide for the common defense and common good of the United States.” Congress is also the only branch of government that can declare war and “raise and support armies” and ” provide and maintain an army ”.

I have long believed that the combination of powers conferred on Congress by the Constitution invokes the legislature to be an active and ongoing national security actor. That means not relinquishing your authority in times of crisis.

Indeed, the importance of Congress on national security issues should increase in times of crisis, when the urgency of the moment can lead to abuse and even abuse of government. Congress must be vigilant that as we strive to protect this democracy, we do not sacrifice the values ​​and rights that define our democracy.

The Patriot Act represented uncontrolled executive power to me. Congress gave law enforcement agencies the powers they had asked for long before 9/11 and agreed to do so with minimal oversight built into the system.

Suddenly, law enforcement agencies had access to a wide range of information through roving wiretapping and expanded search warrants. The law also broadened the definition of terrorism, allowing law enforcement agencies to use their new agencies in more cases, including in Drug control and monitor political activists.


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