Analyze Patriot Act before renewing
The U.S. House of Representatives will soon be voting on whether three of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act should be extended, as they are set to expire on Feb. 28. This includes provisions that allow for wiretapping and government access to major portions of any terrorism suspect's personal information. While the Patriot Act was instituted to combat terrorism, there does not seem to be much evidence — at least, not publicly available evidence — that the act has been integral to fighting threats to national security. What there is evidence of, though, is the extensive invasions of privacy this act allows the government to commit. If the Patriot Act is to be considered for extension, there needs to be a serious discussion of the act's merits and an in-depth reanalysis of what aspects of the act — if any — are necessary. The government must carefully consider just how repugnant and outdated the act is as it stands now.
The Patriot Act was largely contested in the wake of its passing in 2001. Now, 10 years later, it seems to have fallen by the wayside in public discourse. Have the citizens of America forgotten about it? If so, that must end. As a probably reauthorization looms on the horizon, public discussion is crucial — by politicians, by media outlets and by the people themselves. It is unclear whether the country still needs the Patriot Act, especially the more invasive aspects of it. In fact, it is unclear whether the country ever needed the act in the first place.
If the Patriot Act has done any good, the public needs to know about it. After all, the law is continually renewed under the pretense of protecting the nation — a pretense that is thoroughly lacking in conclusive proof. If the Patriot Act has not done enough to justify its existence, then it is time to finally let it die. Then again, such a damaging act would have to do a massive amount of good to make it worth all the ways in which it endangers the average person.
The point is that the Patriot Act is a powerful measure that has been able to skate by relatively under the radar for years now. That can longer be the case. If the government truly feels the Patriot Act is necessary, then it needs to prove that beyond the shadow of a doubt. The members of the House of Representatives need to really mull over the consequences of renewing the act. Perhaps if they do, they will find that they themselves do not agree with it.