The Patriot Act

By: Leah Heisey

Step One:Recognizing the Problem/Setting the Agenda

The USA Patriot Act, or, as it is popularly referred to, the Patriot Act, became a law on October 26, 2001, through actions taken by the U.S. Congress. It was drafted and highly based off of the tragic event that occurred on September 11, 2001. As you can see, they acted fairly quickly and developed a way to keep this from happening again in just a little over a month. The problem here is terrorism. Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. It is a huge problem in all countries, and recently became a large problem for the US after 9/11. That day was a wakeup call to our National Security and lack thereof, and showed us that some changes need to be made and something needs to happen.

"September 11 is one of our worst days but it brought out the best in us. It unified us as a country an showed our charitable instincts and reminded us of what we stood for and stand for." - Sen. Lamar Alexander

Step Two: Formulating the Policy

If enough people want an act to be passed for valid reasons, it will go through the process in order to become a law. Jim Sensenbrenner, a congressman, was the author of the Patriot Act. He felt very strongly about 9/11 and tried his best to do something about it and rid of terrorism in general, which seems like an impossible task. The Patriot Act was abused for being thought to violate privacy, and the FBI got involved as well. All of these concerns came back to the author, Jim Sensenbrenner. Many peoples’ loved ones were injured and killed in the event of 9/11 and it started many new problems with security and terrorism. The Patriot Act is separated into 10 “titles”, each focusing a little bit on specific problems with terrorism. Some specific examples are Enhancing Domestic Security against Terrorism or Enhanced Surveillance Procedures or something even as simple as Improving our intelligence and general knowledge about terrorism. Dividing it into titles gives each group a specific topic to focus on and better their knowledge on in order to make this bill a success. The Patriot Act is focused on strengthening the Executive Branch of government, especially the enforcing of the laws relating to terrorism and security.
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Step Three:Adopting the Policy

Adopting the policy is a very important step in the Public Policy Making Process. I think that the Patriot Act is a regulatory policy. It is a regulatory policy because it is regulating, in this case, weapons, security, and surveillance. It is where it actually gets enough support to go through the official process in becoming a policy by the government. It may take the form of an actual legislation, executive order, or may become a court decision. This process may take a very long time because not all steps of a policy may be passed at once and it may be a complex procedure. President Bush signed it into law in Washington D.C. on October 26, 2001. Since this act is very controversial for various reasons, it was surprising that the initial bill even made it through Congress. It went through the legislative process in a matter of 3 days. After it passed the legislation process, that is when the president signed it and then it goes to Federal Court to officially become a policy. This bill was later re-evaluated and a new version was passed a few years later by Barack Obama.

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Step Four:Implementing the Policy

Implementing the policy is the application of the policy in the real world. How it can be used and where are very important factors in this. The public must be notified at this point of any new changes or laws. There must be proper enforcement and violators are to be punished appropriately. For the Patriot Act, most of its provisions apply to all federal investigations, not just those related to terrorism. The Patriot Act has allowed searches and seizures more often because of what it states, especially if there is suspicion of terrorist threats. The Patriot Act's goals are to strengthen domestic security and broaden the powers of law-enforcement agencies with regards to identifying and stopping terrorists. The Patriot Act broadens the ability of law-enforcement agencies to conduct surveillance on agents of foreign powers. It allows the interception of communications if they're related to terrorist activities and allows law-enforcement agencies to share information related to terrorist activities with federal authorities. Basically, it gives the proper enforcers the right to search you to some extent and or question you if you are suspicious, especially of terrorist acts or threats. It also allows delayed notification of search warrants, meaning a suspect's house could be searched while the suspect isn't present, and the suspect would not be notified of the search until after it was carried out.

Step Five:Evaluating the Policy

Finally, after all of those steps we come to the final step of evaluating the policy. This basically just shows the pros and cons of the newly passed policy. It weighs the costs and benefits and sometimes depending on the results, the policy will be put up for revision. A burden or cost of the Patriot Act, especially according to the citizens is violation of privacy. Some innocent people feel slightly violated by this policy and the sneak and peek searches that may occur at times. While this may seem unfair to them, they need to try their best to understand the main idea of this policy, which is their own safety! I personally would choose safety from terrorists or any harmful people over my own privacy. A satisfaction, or benefit from this policy is the increased surveillance, national security, and safety. The people involved have tried their best to enforce this and keep our Nation as safe as possible. This policy is very reassuring to people, because of the promises it makes to keep us safe from terrorists and anything like 9/11 from ever happening again.


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