The Instigator
USMCgal625
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
solo
Con (against)
Winning
55 Points

The US Patriot Act is necessary for the safety of America.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/31/2007 Category: News
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 9,203 times Debate No: 1217
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (22)

 

USMCgal625

Pro

The Protect America Act modernized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to provide our intelligence community essential tools to acquire important information about terrorists who want to harm America. The Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Bush on August 5, 2007, restores FISA to its original focus of protecting the rights of persons in the United States, while not acting as an obstacle to gathering foreign intelligence on targets located in foreign countries. By enabling our intelligence community to close a critical intelligence gap that existed before the Act became law, the Protect America Act has already made our Nation safer.

The Protect America Act Of 2007 Modernizes FISA In Four Important Ways

1. The Protect America Act permits our intelligence professionals to more effectively collect foreign intelligence information on targets in foreign lands without first receiving court approval. The new law accomplishes this by clarifying that FISA's definition of "electronic surveillance" does not apply to activities directed at persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States, thereby restoring the statute to its original focus on appropriate protections for the rights of persons in the United States.

Electronic surveillance targeting a person in the U.S. continues to require a court order under the Protect America Act. The statute does not change FISA's definition of "electronic surveillance" as it applies to domestic-to-domestic communications and surveillance targeting persons in the United States.
2. The Protect America Act provides a role for the FISA Court in reviewing the procedures the intelligence community uses to ensure that collection remains directed at persons located overseas. The Attorney General is required to submit to the FISA court the procedures by which the Federal government determines that the authorized acquisitions of foreign intelligence do not constitute electronic surveillance and thus do no trigger FISA's court approval requirements.

3. The Protect America Act provides a mechanism for the FISA Court to direct third parties to assist the intelligence community in its collection efforts. The Act permits the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to direct communications service providers to provide the information, facilities, and assistance necessary to conduct authorized foreign intelligence activities. In the event such a person fails to comply with a directive, the Attorney General may invoke the aid of the FISA Court to compel compliance with the directive. By the same token, the Act allows third parties to challenge a directive in the FISA Court.

4. The Protect America Act protects third parties from private lawsuits arising from assistance they provide the Government in authorized foreign intelligence activities targeting individuals located outside the United States. But the Act does not provide retrospective liability protection for those alleged to have assisted our Nation following the 9/11 attacks. Congress needs to act to provide such protection.
solo

Con

The Armed Forces are essential to our safety. The President of the United States is indispensable to the safety of the USA. The entities that this country cannot exist without are "necessities". The US Patriot Act is helpful to the safety to America, but it's NOT necessary, as the US has known great safety without it. Also, the US Patriot Act cannot ensure absolute safety for the United States of America, so claiming that it is necessary is an erroneous statement.
Debate Round No. 1
USMCgal625

Pro

Dispelling Some of the Major Myths about the USA PATRIOT Act

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Myth: The ACLU claims that the Patriot Act "expands terrorism laws to include 'domestic terrorism' which could subject political organizations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for political advocacy." They also claim that it includes a "provision that might allow the actions of peaceful groups that dissent from government policy, such as Greenpeace, to be treated as 'domestic terrorism.'" (ACLU, February 11, 2003; ACLU fundraising letter, cited by Stuart Taylor in "UnPATRIOTic," National Journal, August 4, 2003)

Reality: The Patriot Act limits domestic terrorism to conduct that breaks criminal laws, endangering human life. "Peaceful groups that dissent from government policy" without breaking laws cannot be targeted. Peaceful political discourse and dissent is one of America's most cherished freedoms, and is not subject to investigation as domestic terrorism. Under the Patriot Act, the definition of "domestic terrorism" is limited to conduct that (1) violates federal or state criminal law and (2) is dangerous to human life. Therefore, peaceful political organizations engaging in political advocacy will obviously not come under this definition. (Patriot Act, Section 802)

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Myth: The ACLU has claimed that "Many [people] are unaware that their library habits could become the target of government surveillance. In a free society, such monitoring is odious and unnecessary. . . The secrecy that surrounds section 215 leads us to a society where the 'thought police' can target us for what we choose to read or what Websites we visit." (ACLU, July 22, 2003)

Reality: The Patriot Act specifically protects Americans' First Amendment rights, and terrorism investigators have no interest in the library habits of ordinary Americans. Historically, terrorists and spies have used libraries to plan and carry out activities that threaten our national security. If terrorists or spies use libraries, we should not allow them to become safe havens for their terrorist or clandestine activities. The Patriot Act ensures that business records - whether from a library or any other business - can be obtained in national security investigations with the permission of a federal judge.

Examining business records often provides the key that investigators are looking for to solve a wide range of crimes. Investigators might seek select records from hardware stores or chemical plants, for example, to find out who bought materials to make a bomb, or bank records to see who's sending money to terrorists. Law enforcement authorities have always been able to obtain business records in criminal cases through grand jury subpoenas, and continue to do so in national security cases where appropriate. In a recent domestic terrorism case, for example, a grand jury served a subpoena on a bookseller to obtain records showing that a suspect had purchased a book giving instructions on how to build a particularly unusual detonator that had been used in several bombings. This was important evidence identifying the suspect as the bomber.

In national security cases where use of the grand jury process was not appropriate, investigators previously had limited tools at their disposal to obtain certain business records. Under the Patriot Act, the government can now ask a federal court (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court), if needed to aid an investigation, to order production of the same type of records available through grand jury subpoenas. This federal court, however, can issue these orders only after the government demonstrates the records concerned are sought for an authorized investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a U.S. person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a U.S. person is not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment.

Congress reviews the government's use of business records under the Act. Every six months, the Attorney General must "fully inform" Congress on how it has been implemented. On October 17, 2002, the House Judiciary Committee issued a press release indicating it is satisfied with the Department's use of section 215: "The Committee's review of classified information related to FISA orders for tangible records, such as library records, has not given rise to any concern that the authority is being misused or abused."

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Myth: The ACLU claims that the Patriot Act provision about delayed notification search warrants "would allow law enforcement agencies to delay giving notice when they conduct a search. . . . This provision would mark a sea change in the way search warrants are executed in the United States." (ACLU, October 23, 2001)

Reality: Delayed notification search warrants are a long-existing, crime-fighting tool upheld by courts nationwide for decades in organized crime, drug cases and child pornography. The Patriot Act simply codified the authority law enforcement had already had for decades. This tool is a vital aspect of our strategy of prevention - detecting and incapacitating terrorists before they are able to strike.

In some cases if criminals are tipped off too early to an investigation, they might flee, destroy evidence, intimidate or kill witnesses, cut off contact with associates, or take other action to evade arrest. Therefore, federal courts in narrow circumstances long have allowed law enforcement to delay for a limited time when the subject is told that a judicially-approved search warrant has been executed. This tool can be used only with a court order, in extremely narrow circumstances when immediate notification may result in death or physical harm to an individual, flight from prosecution, evidence tampering, witness intimidation, or serious jeopardy to an investigation. The reasonable delay gives law enforcement time to identify the criminal's associates, eliminate immediate threats to our communities, and coordinate the arrests of multiple individuals without tipping them off beforehand. In all cases, law enforcement must give notice that property has been searched or seized.

The Supreme Court has held the Fourth Amendment does not require law enforcement to give immediate notice of the execution of a search warrant. The Supreme Court emphasized "that covert entries are constitutional in some circumstances, at least if they are made pursuant to a warrant." In fact, the Court stated that an argument to the contrary was "frivolous." Dalia v. U.S., 441 U.S. 238 (1979)
solo

Con

I am not in disagreement over any of your points you've posted in Round 2, but they have nothing to do with being "necessary for the safety of America". The US government has countless anti-terrorist organizations that include the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, the FBI, the CIA and even the Police Departments of America, which are "necessary for the safety of America". The US Patriot Act is helpful, but not as "necessary for the safety of America" as the Fire Departments of America. The point of this particular debate is to prove that the US Patriot Act is "necessary", not just beneficial.
Debate Round No. 2
USMCgal625

Pro

Yes the Armed Forces and President are necessary for American safety. But without the Patriot Act, how are they going to acquire the information necessary. Without the Patriot Act, we'd be attacking enemies blindly and without sufficient information. And trust me, bad communication is the worst thing that can happen. So I ask you.... if not the Patriot Act, then how are we to aid our President and Armed Forces in International Affairs?
solo

Con

<>

The same way they always have... through intelligence gathered by our anti-terrorist organizations.

<>

You mean the way we did when we suspected Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? When the USA wants to go to war, it does so. The Patriot Act would only facilitate a war.

<>

I don't care to speculate. I'm only here to debate why the US Patriot Act is NOT necessary for the safety of America.

In closing, a very wise person once said, "If the USA PATRIOT ACT were "necessary for the safety of America", then America would have been invaded years ago before the Act was ever enacted. Intelligence reports claim we are no safer now than before 9/11..."
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by goldspurs 9 years ago
goldspurs
I agree. The Pro hurt himself with the title. I do think the Patriot Act is helpful to our National Security, it is impossible to prove it is necessary.
Posted by jwebb893 9 years ago
jwebb893
yes the "pro" lost this one because of the absolutist claims of the title. The con only had to prove that it isnt necessary. He did not have to disagree with any of the pro's main points haha
Posted by Mangani 9 years ago
Mangani
If the USA PATRIOT ACT were "necessary for the safety of America", then America would have been invaded years ago before the Act was ever enacted. Intelligence reports claim we are no safer now than before 9/11...
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solo
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