What is Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act?

  

Civil Liberties and the USA PATRIOT Act
For this assignment, you will write a paper presenting the
strongest arguments possible for both sides of a debate regarding Section 215
of the USA PATRIOT Act, examining various points including the free flow of speech.
Step 1
Write a 4- to 5-page debate paper that
addresses the following:
You are serving an internship with a candidate
running for Congress. She has asked you to help her prepare for a series of
debates over central topics facing the nation today. In the first section of
the debate paper, you will provide the most powerful argument possible in favor
of one side of the debate, then you will do the same for the other side.
Finally, you will write a critique of the side of the issue with which you disagree.
For this assignment, you will prepare a debate
paper covering an important contemporary issue in American Federalism. In 2001,
President George W. Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT Act, commonly known as
the Patriot Act. Title II, Section 215 of the Patriot Act (referred to as Sec.
215) allows the FBI to demand that libraries produce the borrowing records of
patrons suspected of engaging or planning to engage in international terrorism
or clandestine intelligence activities. Moreover, the libraries that are asked
to provide this information through a National Security Letter (NSL) are not
allowed to tell the targeted patron, or even acknowledge that they have
received an NSL.
Your candidate’s debates will take place
before an audience of the general public, so be sure to include an explanation
of why the USA PATRIOT Act was passed and how it sought to address governmental
and individual concerns over personal safety in the United States. Audience
members will want to know how and why the act was originally passed and how it
affects them today.
Step 2
Research the topic.
Being able to apply information literacy
skills to study politics is critical. Access the Internet to research and learn
about Title II, Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and about the law in
general. Consider your sources carefully when you research, keeping the
following points in mind:
Primary sources, such
as government websites, will be more informative and less subjective than
secondary sources.
Check the reference
lists or sources of any secondary online source you find, such as a journal or
newspaper article. Has the author provided solid background for the opinions he
or she expresses?
Do not accept the
opinions of any individual secondary source without question. Consider the site
where you found the source. What is its primary purpose? Who is its intended
audience?
Step 3
Write a paper in favor of current practices.
Demonstrate that you can apply an
understanding of government processes to analyze contemporary politics. Begin
by writing the first part of the paper that argues in favor of retaining
Section 215 of the Patriot Act as law. Make a case for why this law is critical
for the nation’s security.
Briefly explain the
nature of the law at hand and the factors and processes that led to its
passage.
Outline which
institutional structures were involved with the passage of this law and how
they interacted.
Examine the Patriot
Act law in the context of the history of U.S. politics.
Address ways that
government processes affect contemporary political issues such as the Patriot
Act.
Explain how
individuals can impact the political environment and discuss this issue in
relation to the intended checks and balances in our governmental system.
Step 4
Write a paper against current practices.
Now, write a section of the paper that argues
for revoking Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Make a case for why this law goes
against American values like freedom and privacy.
Use examples from the
history of U.S. politics to support your case, and focus on issues such as:
o The free flow of ideas that allow a democracy
to function
o U.S. citizens’ right to privacy
Analyze the formal and
informal processes that affect how public policy is made. Describe how these
processes relate to this contemporary issue, focusing on how they could work
together to revoke this law.
Explain how
individuals can impact the political environment and discuss this issue in
relation to the intended checks and balances in our governmental system.
Step 5
Write a critique.
Now that you have made a strong argument for
each side, critique or challenge the argument with which you disagree. Address
its strongest points, and explain why you disagree with that view.
Step 6
In summary, be sure your paper includes the
following:
An argument for
maintaining current practices
An argument for
changing current practices
A critique of the side
with which you disagree

Introduction:
Civil liberties, which are considered fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to every individual, have been a subject of debate in American federalism for decades. A specific piece of legislation, the USA PATRIOT Act, has been at the forefront of the discussion on civil liberties. In this paper, we will explore the arguments for and against section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, particularly in relation to the free flow of speech. This law, passed in the aftermath of 9/11, gives the FBI the power to demand borrowing records of library patrons suspected of engaging in acts of terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. Our focus will be to provide a critique of one side of the issue with which we disagree.

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Description:
This assignment requires you to prepare a debate paper related to an important contemporary civil liberties issue in American federalism. Specifically, you will delve into the implications of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. The first section of your paper will be dedicated to presenting the most compelling argument in favor of retaining Section 215 of the Act, followed by a discussion on the most compelling argument against it. Lastly, the paper will focus on presenting a critique of the side of the issue with which you disagree.

The USA PATRIOT Act was passed into law in 2001 by President George W. Bush as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It seeks to address governmental and individual concerns over personal safety in the United States. In particular, Section 215 of the Act allows the FBI to demand libraries to produce borrowing records of patrons suspected of engaging or planning acts of terrorism or espionage. The use of National Security Letters (NSL) makes it impossible for targeted patrons to be informed of the investigation, or even acknowledge the receipt of an NSL.

To write this paper, you will need to research Title II, Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and other relevant sources of information. It is crucial to analyze the sources carefully, distinguishing primary sources from secondary ones. Websites belonging to government agencies are likely to offer more objective and informative information than other types of websites. As you research, consider the opinions expressed by the authors of the sources you come across and judge them based on their background and reputation.

Your target audience is the general public, which means that your paper should provide clear and concise information. Your candidate, who you are assisting with the preparation of a series of debates, has vested a considerable amount of trust in you. Thus, it is essential that your paper argues convincingly while also being fair and objective.

Objective: To analyze and present both sides of a debate regarding Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, examining various points including the free flow of speech.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Students will be able to research and learn about Title II, Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and about the law in general using information literacy skills.
2. Students will be able to apply their understanding of government processes to analyze contemporary politics and make informed decisions.
3. Students will be able to present a balanced and well-informed position on a contemporary political issue, including arguments for and against specific policies or laws.

Heading: Overview and Background
Objective: To provide an overview of the USA PATRIOT Act and how it addresses governmental and individual concerns over personal safety in the United States.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Students will be able to explain why the USA PATRIOT Act was passed and how it seeks to address governmental and individual concerns over personal safety in the United States.
2. Students will be able to identify the main policies of the USA PATRIOT Act, including Title II, Section 215.
3. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the historical context surrounding the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Heading: Researching the Topic
Objective: To teach students to research a political issue using information literacy skills and to identify reliable sources of information.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Students will be able to apply information literacy skills to study politics and identify reliable sources of information.
2. Students will be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources, and understand the differences between them.
3. Students will be able to critically evaluate sources of information for accuracy, relevance, and credibility.

Heading: Writing the Debate Paper
Objective: To help students develop critical thinking skills and to be able to organize and present their arguments coherently and persuasively.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Students will be able to write a debate paper which presents a balanced and well-informed position on a contemporary political issue, including arguments for and against specific policies or laws.
2. Students will be able to structure their paper in a clear and logical way, with a well-organized introduction, body, and conclusion.
3. Students will be able to develop well-supported arguments and effectively refute opposing arguments.

Solution 1: Retaining Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act

The USA PATRIOT Act was enacted in 2001 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was intended to strengthen the government’s ability to prevent and investigate acts of terrorism. Title II, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, is a crucial tool in the fight against terrorism. It authorizes the FBI to demand the production of business records, including library records, relevant to an authorized investigation.

The Patriot Act has been instrumental in stopping several terrorist plots since its enactment. For instance, it was used to identify a terrorist cell in Oregon that was planning to launch a suicide attack on a city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony. These successes demonstrate how vital the Patriot Act is in keeping America safe.

The provision of Section 215 is one of the most contentious issues of the Patriot Act. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the FBI can only request records related to an authorized terrorism investigation. Moreover, before obtaining the records, the FBI must establish that the records are relevant to the investigation and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the records sought are related to a foreign power or their agents.

The retention of Section 215 is critical in ensuring national security. It is necessary to provide the tools needed for law enforcement officials to thwart terrorist plots. The government has a duty to protect its citizens, and Section 215 of the Patriot Act is vital in fulfilling this duty.

Solution 2: Repealing Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act

Title II, Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the government to obtain sensitive personal information, including library records, from individuals without their knowledge or consent. This provision is a clear violation of individuals’ civil liberties, enshrined in the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to be secure in one’s “papers and effects” from unreasonable searches and seizures, which Section 215 clearly contravenes.

Furthermore, Section 215 undermines the privacy protections of library users, who rightly expect that their reading interests, in many cases, will not be shared with anyone else. This is a crucial element of free speech and expression which has been threatened by Section 215. The provision could also prevent individuals from accessing certain materials due to concerns about government surveillance.

Section 215 has been controversial since its enactment, as it gives government agencies broad powers to conduct surveillance without adequate legal oversight. This could lead to abuses, whereby government officials violate the privacy rights of individuals without any proper due process. The fact that the government can obtain personal information without the target individual being aware that they are being watched is especially concerning.

Repealing Section 215 would represent an important step in safeguarding civil liberties. While the government has a duty to safeguard the nation from terrorism and other threats, it should not do so by impinging upon an individual’s right to privacy and free speech. It is possible to ensure national security without invading the privacy of innocent citizens.

maintaining national security and how it strikes the right balance between personal privacy and collective safety. Here are some suggested resources and books for this topic:

Suggested Resources/Books:
– “The Patriot Act: A Documentary and Reference Guide” by William Dudley
– “The Patriot Act: Issues and Controversies” edited by Terance D. Miethe and Michael E. Tigar
– “Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies” by President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies

Similar Asked Questions:
1. What is Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act?
2. How does the USA PATRIOT Act balance national security concerns with individual civil liberties?
3. What are the arguments in favor of retaining Section 215 as part of the Patriot Act?
4. What are the potential risks and consequences of using Section 215 to infringe on personal privacy rights?
5. How do other countries balance national security concerns with individual civil liberties, and what can the United States learn from their approaches?

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