The Patriot Act Overview

After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, in the US, the USA PATRIOT Act, also known simply as “the Patriot Act,” was passed on October 26th, 2001. The acronym stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.” As pertaining to cybersecurity, Title VIII of the Patriot Act granted the US government freedom to essentially spy on civilians within the US who were showing signs of possible terrorism, cyberterrorism, racketeering, etc., via communication through the internet on computers and phones. However, the National Security Agency (NSA) who headed the Patriot Act program, also collected metadata from everyone within the US.

According to the NSA, their “role in US cybersecurity includes its primary information assurance mission: serving as the National Manager for National Security Systems. National Security Systems include US systems that contain classified information or are otherwise critical to US military or intelligence missions.” The NSA additionally uses a system known as PRISM, also known as SIGAD, which collects internet communications from various US internet companies rather than directly from the targeted individuals. Laws allowing such software are easily passed since many in the US feel it is permissible to monitor, regulate, and collect information and data from companies.

Nevertheless, the Patriot Act failed miserably to thwart terrorist acts and hacking in cyberspace, but it successfully helped to usher in a constant police state of government surveillance and the collection of digital information over the web. Without NSA whistleblowers such as Perry Fellwock, Russ Tice, Mark Klein, William Binney, Thomas Tamm, Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden, and others, much of this overreach of government would have continued unknown by the masses, and many of the Patriot Act’s policies would have continued without interruptions. Nevertheless, the police state via cybersecurity and spying continues within the US and the world.

We know it is an overreach of US government as Title II of the Patriot Act allowed mass surveillance and collection of information without a warrant or specified reasons for individuals, thus an infringement on the US Constitution’s 4th Amendment which stipulates that it is, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Additionally, former US President, George W. Bush, also passed the Protect America Act which was an amendment on FISA to also allow warrantless searches and surveillance on digital platforms. These warrantless and unrelenting search additions have been extended to at least December 31st, 2023, under FISA Article VII, section 702. Yet, under the ruse of ‘protection,’ government has trampled the Constitution in order to increase cybersecurity within the US and the world.

Once the Patriot Act expired in 2015, the USA FREEDOM Act was implemented. With the passing of this act, many aspects of the Patriot Act have continued and are repeatedly reinstated. This “USA Freedom Act” is also an acronym meaning Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring Act. Also known simply as “the Freedom Act,” it was really an extension of the Patriot Act, but the public image was perceived as a little less Big Brother since supposedly metadata collected was only stored for six months as opposed to indefinitely. Still yet, the underlying Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 underlies both the Patriot Act and Freedom Act, granting permission to the US government to physically and electronically spy on foreign powers within the US and out, as well as any agents of foreign powers; after the development of the internet, these measures now include the careful watch through cybersecurity.

Of course, prior to the Patriot Act and Freedom Act, there have been US and world organizations such as ECHELON, also known as the Five Eyes abbreviated as ‘FVEY,’ which most likely started around 1941. This is an intelligence alliance between the US, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. This agency collects information of people all over the world as a response to a post-WWII world, when these countries had an unofficial and secret agreement known as the BRUSA Agreement in 1943, and officially signed under the UKUSA Agreement in 1946.

According to many documents released by Edward Snowden, “the Five Eyes is a supra-national intelligence organization that does not answer to the known laws of its own countries,” and since it is outside countries spying on citizens of other countries, they are able to step around regulations and restrictions, as the organization acts outside of the law. Included in their acquisition of information, via the internet through smartphones and computers, cybersecurity is a key component, especially in the world we live in today which almost requires communication through the internet. Suffice it to say, whether the US or other governments publically announce that they are taking measures of spying and various acts of cybersecurity, they have been and will continue to do so off the record.

The ongoing record keeping through spying via cybersecurity is performed not only by the NSA and the Five Eyes, but also through the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to name a few. While the DIA focuses on federal level defense and military topics, the CIA focuses on more general intelligence needs of the President. This grants the DIA more special privileges to assist the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Combatant Commanders, to act outside of normal protocol. The DIA works directly with the Five Eyes through their own network known as “Stone Ghost,” with the same aforementioned countries, furthering the perpetual international collection of information in the name of security.

It is no exaggeration that everyone around the world is taking great notice in the hypocritical militarization of the United States bringing about Liberty’s demise in the building of one giant New World Order prison state. If we are to end the Patriot Act or the USA Freedon Act, we must continue to hedge back against Constitutional infractions and infringements, corruption of government without unchecked powers, and the philosophy that encourages such ongoing invasive tactics.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Joshua D. Glawson

Joshua D. Glawson is a writer, speaker, and guest lecturer on political philosophy and economics. He resides in North Carolina.

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