The Unparalleled Necessity of Liberties
“They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”, declared by Benjamin Franklin in 1759, asserts that any rights granted to citizens by a constitution must never be infringed. Franklin also claims any people foolish enough to relinquish their freedoms are unworthy of such liberties.
In 1759, Benjamin Franklin declared his viewpoint on freedoms and essential liberties by proclaiming, “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. His statement correctly defines the unalienable rights granted by the Constitution of the United States of America, which are not to be withheld under any circumstance.
One could interpret an essential liberty as privacy and therefore, The Patriot Act is in direct conflict with Franklin’s “essential liberties.” The Patriot Act’s destruction is necessary since the Patriot Act has not foiled any major terrorist plots nor schemes, and additionally because the powers constituted by the Patriot Act are abused and exploited.
George W. Bush ratified the Patriot act as a response to the 9/11 attack. It significantly increased the FBI’s capabilities including massive surveillance, unlawful detainment (the Guantanamo Bay military prison for example), and a complete suspension of one’s rights if connected to “terrorism” (Ybarra). In May 2015, the FBI admitted the Patriot Act has not “cracked any major terrorist plots” (Ybarra). The FBI is supposed to use these snooping powers to track and prevent terrorist attacks, yet they have thwarted a grand total of zero strikes. The Patriot Act also allocates enormous amounts of resources for tracking both Americans on the homefront and Americans that have moved overseas (“List of Pros and Cons”). With a debt over 19 trillion dollars, this profligate squandering of money that produces no results cannot be afforded nor sustained.
However, the Patriot Act, even though it violates personal liberties, should remain a statute because of the many terrorist attacks orchestrated by US citizens since September 11th; The Little Rock Shooting, the Fort Hood Massacre, and the Boston Marathon Bombing just to name a few (Garcia). The president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and former assistant of the FBI said removing the Patriot act would “put the FBI in the dark” and “limit its [the FBI’s] ability to respond [to terrorism]” (Ybarra). The Patriot Act must endure so the FBI can more efficiently reciprocate attacks by US citizens, and punish radical massacres.
At first glance one could see the usefulness of the Patriot Act. This position seems reasonable because of the many terrorist acts committed on US soil and because the Patriot act allows the FBI to respond quickly and efficiently to radical strikes. This interpretation is helpful, but it misses a crucial point. The FBI and the US government misuse and exploit the powers granted by the Patriot act. According to the New York Times, the FBI and American government use the strategies of “arrest early, charge broadly” and “guilty before innocent” (Liptak). The government has held people for decades without charges, interrogating mercilessly, especially at Guantanamo. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has used the Patriot act as an excuse to hold immigrants suspected of terrorism without bail or counsel under harsh conditions even after they were ordered released (Liptak). If the government can suspend freedoms whenever they see fit, what will prevent them from progressively leeching more rights until they convert America to a police state headed by a dictator? Nothing. The Patriot Act will eventually cause a descent into tyranny, the horrors of which Orwell and Doctorow expose in both 1984 and Little Brother. The American people must force Congress to abolish the Patriot Act, or be defenseless as all liberties desist.
Franklin perfectly construed every individual’s fundamental freedoms through his 1759 proclamation. Rights and liberties are never to be expunged no matter the paramountcy of any situation.
Garcia, Mike. "13 Terror Attacks Linked to Radical Islam That Struck America Since 9/11." Newsmax. Newsmax, 07 Dec. 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.
Liptak, Adam. "Civil Liberties Today." The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Sept. 2011. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.
Ybarra, Maggie. "FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers." Washington Times. The Washington Times, 21 May 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.
"List of Pros and Cons of The Patriot Act." OccupyTheory. OccupyTheory, 01 Jan. 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.