The Instigator
Pricetag
Pro (for)
Winning
33 Points
The Contender
Alex_Edwards
Con (against)
Losing
18 Points

The Patriot Act is completely unconstitutional and should be repealed immediately!

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,496 times Debate No: 825
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (17)

 

Pricetag

Pro

The title "Patriot Act" itself seems to be an oxymoron for the Patriot Act decimates many of our civil liberties and our precious system of checks and balances. The most egregious results of this legislation are the attacks on civil disobedience, denial of due process of law, and the near eradication of the protection from illegal searches and seizures.

The Act has considerably broadened the definition of terrorism and now harshly punishes acts that were originally considered minor crimes. The new bill states that someone commits terrorism if they engage in any crime dangerous to human life aimed at influencing the policy of a government. By this new standard, if you were to engage in acts of civil disobedience, such as disrupting a meeting or stopping the procession of vehicles to bring attention to an unwanted policy, formerly minor offenses, you would now be committing an act of terrorism and subject to all the punishments that are associated with that offense. The government has, without doubt, strengthened the punishment for acts of civil disobedience and limited the avenues of public dissent. Civil disobedience is perhaps our most powerful weapon against injustice; therefore, we must not let the government limit it in any way.

Due process of law has been denied to many suspects by this legislation. In 2001 Yaser Hamdi, an American citizen, was labeled as an enemy combatant having been alleged to be affiliated with the Taliban. Hamdi was then confined in a Navy Brig until a Supreme Court ruling in 2004 forced the Justice Department to either charge or release him, subsequently liberating him from prison due to an extreme lack of evidence. During his incarceration he was not permitted a lawyer or access to a speedy trial which used to be part of the civil right known as due process of law. In November 2001 over 1200 legal aliens and residents of Middle Eastern origin were detained and over 600 were deported due to misdemeanors and small visa violations after closed trials. The Justice Department has henceforth refused to release any information as to their names, the exact number detained, or the names of their representative counsel. Therefore, many assume they weren't granted any, which is not an unsafe assumption in these times. Due process of law ensures protection to every person in this country regardless of origin or citizenship status, to withhold this right is a direct attack on each of our civil liberties.

The most prevalent part of the Patriot Act that flies in the face of the Bill of Rights, more specifically the protection from illegal searches and seizures, is the section that allows the FBI to issue subpoenas called National Security Letters. These subpoenas allow searches and seizures of documents, of phone records, of websites viewed, and of e-mails without any judicial oversight. These powers permit seizures of information on reading habits at book stores and libraries. These warrants authorize access to records of religious and political organizations, often obtained by surreptitious means. Furthermore, these National Security Letters are accompanied with a gag order which forbids the person who turned over information from informing anyone, including a judge, that information was requested. The only requirement to issue a National Security Letter, in fact, is that the sought-after information is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation, replacing the former standard of probable cause. As a result these so-called National Security Letters side-step the system of checks and balances and allow the executive branch to be both judge and executor of the procurement of information. These powers greatly contrast the former law and give the government an Orwellian reach that has not been awarded to it since the McCarthy era.

Proponents of the bill and subsequently the restriction of civil liberties argue that changes are necessary in times of war. I agree that freedom must be defended but never, never at the cost of civil liberties, to do so would be as absurd as killing to defend the cause of non-violence. One of the most notable and beloved of our founding fathers Benjamin Franklin put it this way, "Those who are willing to trade essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."
Alex_Edwards

Con

Before I begin, I politely request that those who vote on this debate make their decision based on which debater won the argument rather than your own beliefs pertaining to the Patriot Act.

In my opponent's first argument he (if it is a she please correct me) says that the Patriot Act states

"that someone commits terrorism if they engage in any crime dangerous to human life aimed at influencing the policy of a government"

The key phrase there is dangerous to human life. You give the examples of stopping a meeting or traffic, both examples clearly not being dangerous to human life and therefore are not labeled as terrorism under the Patriot Act by your definition. Also, if the Act so severely cut down on civil disobedience, then why is it that since 2001 when the Patriot Act was passed, there have been progressively more riots against President Bush's policies? If the Patriot act was as you have described, such events would not have taken place nor would they have increased in number, proving that the Act does not violate the constitutional right of freedom of assembly.

In my opponent's second argument he says that the Patriot Act violates due process of law. While the Yaser Hamdi case was clearly a mistake, but I think it is important to look at the amount of time he was held. If he was held for 3 years, the government wouldn't just have him sit there and have no investigation. Clearly an investigation taking place over a 3 year period would mean that there was something that made it possible for him to be guilty that needed to be looked into. He wouldn't have been held for that long and the investigation wouldn't have gone on that long if his innocence was as apparent as you say.

My opponent discuss aliens were denied due process, but since they are not U.S. citizens they do not have the right to due process that a U.S. citizen does. You cannot attack the Patriot Act for denying them a right that they did not possess in the first place. I must respectfully say that my opponent's statement:

"Due process of law ensures protection to every person in this country regardless of origin or citizenship status"

is false; the rights granted by the constitution only pertain to citizens of the United States. We do not have a constitutional amendment granting rights to every person on the planet; it only pertains to citizens of this country.

In my opponent's final argument you discuss National Security letters. You do not address the process that comes before the extensive investigation your case outlines. It starts with INTERNATIONAL phone calls being monitored by machines (not people) searching for keywords. If enough key words are found that would suggest suspicious activity then and only then would a government agent look into it. My opponent even states:

"The only requirement to issue a National Security Letter, in fact, is that the sought-after information is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation"

If the information being obtained was relevant to the investigation then the investigation would go more smoothly; allowing the innocent people to be released faster and the guilty to be caught faster, so you can turn this argument in my favor.

It is important to understand why such a thing is necessary and just how much the Patriot Act has benefited our country. Not a single terrorist attack has hit our home soil since 9/11. Phone tapping has been crucial to stopping the many terrorist plots that have arisen, a major example being about a year and a half ago when the terrorists were going to blow up 10 planes coming across the Atlantic to the United States. Such an attack would have killed hundreds of innocent civilians. It was by the use of wiretapping that this attack was prevented. This is only one example of how the Patriot Act has been successfully used to prevent terrorist attacks on our home soil. In these cases there is not always time to go through lengthy procedures; action has to be taken in order to prevent such a horrible thing from occurring.

If the Patriot Act was repealed we would not be able to defend ourselves as efficiently as we have in the past and it would cause the lives of an untold number of innocent people. My opponent offers no other means of foiling these plots and I have proven how the Patriot Act has been a successful means of doing so.

I have successfully refuted my opponent's claims and proven the great protection the Patriot Act has provided for us. For these reasons, I negate the statement that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional and should be repealed immediately.
Debate Round No. 1
Pricetag

Pro

"Before I begin, I politely request that those who vote on this debate make their decision based on which debater won the argument rather than your own beliefs pertaining to the Patriot Act."

I completely agree and would ask no differently from everyone voting.

"The key phrase there is dangerous to human life. You give the examples of stopping a meeting or traffic, both examples clearly not being dangerous to human life and therefore are not labeled as terrorism under the Patriot Act by your definition. Also, if the Act so severely cut down on civil disobedience, then why is it that since 2001 when the Patriot Act was passed, there have been progressively more riots against President Bush's policies? If the Patriot act was as you have described, such events would not have taken place nor would they have increased in number, proving that the Act does not violate the constitutional right of freedom of assembly."

I'll concede this argument, it was the weakest to begin with.

"In my opponent's second argument he says that the Patriot Act violates due process of law. While the Yaser Hamdi case was clearly a mistake, but I think it is important to look at the amount of time he was held. If he was held for 3 years, the government wouldn't just have him sit there and have no investigation. Clearly an investigation taking place over a 3 year period would mean that there was something that made it possible for him to be guilty that needed to be looked into. He wouldn't have been held for that long and the investigation wouldn't have gone on that long if his innocence was as apparent as you say."

The only "evidence" they had against him was that he was picked up in Afghanistan; however, that in no way justifies the trampling of the Writ of Habeas Corpus which he petitioned for many times and it took a case in front of the Supreme Court to release him.

"My opponent discuss aliens were denied due process, but since they are not U.S. citizens they do not have the right to due process that a U.S. citizen does. You cannot attack the Patriot Act for denying them a right that they did not possess in the first place. I must respectfully say that my opponent's statement:
"Due process of law ensures protection to every person in this country regardless of origin or citizenship status"
is false; the rights granted by the constitution only pertain to citizens of the United States. We do not have a constitutional amendment granting rights to every person on the planet; it only pertains to citizens of this country."

That is where you are wrong. According to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, "courts have consistently held that 'the Due Process Clause applies to all persons within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent,'" (source-http://www.bordc.org...). Due Process is a right of all people here, according to the courts.

"In my opponent's final argument you discuss National Security letters. You do not address the process that comes before the extensive investigation your case outlines. It starts with INTERNATIONAL phone calls being monitored by machines (not people) searching for keywords. If enough key words are found that would suggest suspicious activity then and only then would a government agent look into it. My opponent even states:

"The only requirement to issue a National Security Letter, in fact, is that the sought-after information is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation"

If the information being obtained was relevant to the investigation then the investigation would go more smoothly; allowing the innocent people to be released faster and the guilty to be caught faster, so you can turn this argument in my favor."

In actuality there are a number of ways that you can be tracked and your right to privacy stripped from your being. One way is if you simply make a phone call to any person in any place in the middle east. Whereas the government used to use physical evidence or probably cause they use very vague language to be able to put virtually any citizen under investigation. If they say that the citizen could relate to an investigation they can tap your phone, take your medical records, find out what church and political organizations you belong to, look through your email, search the websites you view, and many more things that make you completely transparent to the outside world. It's also DOMESTIC phone calls, they can wiretap pretty much anyone without a warrant under this law. The fact is that we as people who cherish our right to privacy and our protection from illegal searches and seizures should demand that our government return to physical evidence and probably cause as their requirements for taking away our rights. The government has overstepped it's bounds in many ways and this is one of the most egregious of them.

"It is important to understand why such a thing is necessary and just how much the Patriot Act has benefited our country. Phone tapping has been crucial to stopping the many terrorist plots that have arisen...terrorists were going to blow up 10 planes coming across the Atlantic to the United States. It was by the use of wiretapping that this attack was prevented. In these cases there is not always time to go through lengthy procedures; action has to be taken in order to prevent such a horrible thing from occurring...

If the Patriot Act was repealed we would not be able to defend ourselves as efficiently as we have in the past and it would cause the lives of an untold number of innocent people. My opponent offers no other means of foiling these plots and I have proven how the Patriot Act has been a successful means of doing so."

No, what is most important is to understand why we were attacked last time and what the problem was. In each of these terrorism cases we have more than enough warning to tell us when and where they will attack. I will use 9/11 as an example. The only thing hindering us from stopping the attack was poor communication between the separate agencies. There were several times that the exact name of the pilot was reported to the government but because of bureaucratic incompetence we failed to properly investigate and catch those villains. We have since put all the agencies under the umbrella organization of the Department of Homeland Security, problem solved. The problem is rarely if ever lack of information, thanks to informants that is never the case examples being the New Jersey plots, the Fort Fox plots, and the Miami cell plots. Furthermore, it is never right to trade liberty for security I will reiterate my quote here, "Those who are willing to give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security" - Benjamin Franklin. I think as a founding father of these United States he would know a little bit about what this nation's priorities should be.

"I have successfully refuted my opponent's claims and proven the great protection the Patriot Act has provided for us. For these reasons, I negate the statement that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional and should be repealed immediately."

The Patriot Act has created a witch hunt and in fact distracts the government from spending the time to investigate real cases. Now the government wastes time, man power, and resources tracking citizens cell phone calls and piling the results into databases. The Patriot Act and all of it's unconstitutional acts distract the government from following real evidence, and it is in fact harmful to both the citizen and the War on Terror. The Act tramples on the constituion as it violates the 5th Amendment (Due Process), 4th amendment (Protection from illegal searches and seizures), 8th amendment (allows for "enhanced interrogation techniques which clearly amount to torture), the Writ of Habeas Corpus and many others that I will outline further at a later juncture.
Alex_Edwards

Con

Alex_Edwards forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Pricetag

Pro

The simple fact of the matter is that we have allowed the government to extend it's reach past the point that any government, whose not in the middle of an invasion, should be able to go. As I posted before they have violated many of our constitutional civil liberties and we should demand them back immediately. Sure you may say that these "violations" are necessary for times of war. However, in relation to the War on Terror the President has proclaimed that this war will continue until every government is free from illegal acts that aim at changing the policy of that government. This means that as long as anybody is being criminally subversive to any government this war will continue, thus the civil liberties that we hold so dear could be suspended forever.

Another consideration is that the bill was 800 pages long and was passed with such little debate that the vast majority of law makers didn't even bother reading it or couldn't get their hands on a copy of it. That is the very reason why legislators such as Ron Paul refused to vote for it because they couldn't even get a copy of the legislation.

It's also important to look at the philosophy here. "We are helping build democracy". Yea by destroying our own. How does that make sense? It would be like an advocate of non-violence killing to spread his philosophy.

I will reiterate. This bill tramples on the 4th amendment by allowing the government to view and or monitor medical records, names of religious and political organizations, emails, telephone messages, wiretaps, sneak and peak/black bag searches (go into your house without notifying you and take whatever they want not just what the warrant says without telling you what they took), roaming wiretaps (wiretaps that follow you wherever you go), lists of books that you buy or check out at the library, etc. It also tramples on the 5th, 6th, and 7th amendments by denying due process of law to hundreds in Guantanamo Bay and others in black prisons in eastern Europe, the middle east, and elsewhere including American citizens. Also the 8th amendment by permitting acts of torture and the writ of habeas corpus and others. These are violations that should not be taken lightly. They strike at the core of our nation's values and cannot be allowed to continue.

In closing I would like to remind everyone voting that this is a case of the government overstepping it's bounds. They don't need these laws to protect us and we shouldn't approve of these laws even if they did. As Americans we are proud people who cherish our liberties and rights and must not give them away at any cost. The laws put in play do nothing but distract us from real information and cause us to waste tax payer money, man power, and resources that could be used much more effectively in fighting terrorism by other means or in other programs.
Alex_Edwards

Con

okay, I'll coincide this one. I apologize that I didn't post in the allotted time. Good Round.

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Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Pricetag 9 years ago
Pricetag
I'm a bit more optimistic than that. I just think that we should "vote the bums out of office" that authorized this legislation that is not even worth the paper it was written on.
Posted by GaryBacon 9 years ago
GaryBacon
Pricetag is absolutely correct on this issue. The problem is that even if a democrat now wins, there is probably very little chance that they will have the guts to repeal this horrid act.
Posted by Pricetag 9 years ago
Pricetag
I'm not saying to go after them at all. I'm just saying to get our rights back. The rights that we deserve and cherish.
Posted by Solarman1969 9 years ago
Solarman1969
yeah, duh!

lets destroy our intel agencies because Bush as after us because he and Cheney are really scary republicans that want to take away all our rights !

Duh !

theyre really after us , you see?

theyre not after terrorists, see ? theyre after us !

Duh!

this is the mind of a liberal
Posted by riclanda 9 years ago
riclanda
i have to agree the patriot act needs to die!!
Posted by revleader5 9 years ago
revleader5
You're totally right. Destroy the patriot act.
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Vote Placed by obama0805 9 years ago
obama0805
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Vote Placed by GaryBacon 9 years ago
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