Originally Posted by yarmonymatoid
I would have preferred that the rule changes would have been in place prior to 911. It might have prevented the tragedy all together. Our law enforcement and intelligence people had their hands tied back then. There are hundreds of attacks that have been avoided all around world since the act was made law.
We have needed changes in the way law enforcement and intelligence agencies collect and share information for a long time, changes which may have prevented the 9/11 attacks. The Patriot Act (gee, what a neutral, non jingoistic, shades-of-gray name) instituted many of those needed changes. Unfortunately, the Patriot Act was also knee-jerk, and knee-jerk responses often go too far.
Signed into law 45 days after Sept 11, 2001, it was passed with almost no debate by the same cowed congress that gave Bush absolute power to declare war as long as he didn't call it literally "war." Since its passage, several legal challenges have been brought against the act, and Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional. One example is the provision that gives FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) the ability to obtain search and surveillance warrants to investigate criminal cases on U.S. soil without having to demonstrate probable cause, as required under the Fourth Amendment. This is only the case with actual warrants, which FISA doesn't even currently need.
Regardless of whether you're a supporter of increased government monitoring and control of communications or not, anyone who is a fan of the constitution must also be its protector. When laws are found to be unconstitutional they must be changed, even if repealing those laws removes a certain amount of security and increases the risk of harm coming to the US or Americans. Those basic freedoms are what sets this country apart from all the others in this big old world. If we start eliminating rights so we can be a little more secure, then that just ain't America anymore.