Note: This question is "retired" from the list of 20 VoteMatch topics. It was used from 2008 through 2014.
The Patriot Act harms civil liberties
- Strongly Support means you believe:
The Patriot Act is unpatriotic.
The terrorists are winning because they have forced us to limit our Constitutional civil rights.
We should not give up our liberties in exchange for security, because if we do we will end up with neither.
- Support means you believe:
Homeland security needs should be balanced with respect for civil rights, and the Patriot Act goes too far.
The sunset clause (automatic phaseout) should apply to all aspects so that the Patriot Act automatically disappears when the War on Terror is ended.
Some provisions should be repealed immediately, because they grant too much power to the federal government and restrict our Constitutional rights too much.
- Oppose means you believe:
To win the War on Terror, we need powerful tools to fight a new and powerful enemy.
Hiding behind "civil rights" arguments coddles the terrorists and encourages them to strike again.
We need to counter-attack the terrorists with financial weapons and legalistic weapons as well as military weapons.
- Strongly Oppose means you believe:
The president should be granted all the means necessary to fight the War on Terror.
When dealing with terrorists who want to destroy our country, stretching the definitions of torture and the Geneva Convention is necessary.
Remember the victims of 9/11 first, and focus on preventing another 9/11 rather than focusing on civil rights of terrorists.
This question is looking for your views on balancing the War on Terror with the protection of civil liberties. However you answer the above question would be similar to your response to these statements:
How do you decide between "Support" and "Strongly Support" when you agree with both the descriptions above? (Or between "Oppose" and "Strongly Oppose").
The strong positions are generally based on matters of PRINCIPLES where the regular support and oppose positions are based on PRACTICAL matters.
If you answer "No Opinion," this question is not counted in the VoteMatch answers for any candidate.
If you give a general answer of Support vs. Oppose, VoteMatch can more accurately match a candidate with your stand.
Don't worry so much about getting the strength of your answer exactly refined, or to think too hard about the exact wording of the question -- like candidates!
- Domestic spying is unconstitutional.
- Guantanamo Bay's terrorist prison system should be shut down.
- Habeus Corpus (the right to a hearing) should be respected, even for terrorist suspects.
- The Patriot Act invests too much power in a centralized Executive.
- The Geneva Convention defines torture, and US actions must follow those international rules.
- Strongly Support means you believe in the principle that the Patriot Act violates constitutional rights.
- Support means you believe that for practical reasons, the patriot Act goes too far.
- Oppose means you believe that for practical reasons, the Patriot Act is necessary, but might be amended over time as needed.
- Strongly Oppose means you believe in the principle of a strong Presidency as the best means to fight the War on Terror.
The PATRIOT Act
- The PATRIOT Act is a new topic in our VoteMatch quiz as of the 2008 election. It encompasses an enormous number of controversial civil rights issues, from habeas corpus restrictions through the right to privacy. Defense-related aspects of the PATRIOT Act are covered under our Homeland Security section.
- The USA PATRIOT Act was first passed in Oct. 2001 as a response to 9/11. It was reauthorized by Congress in 2005. The title is an acronym for ‘Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.’
- Habeas corpus: The ‘Writ of habeas corpus’ means all people have the right to not be held indefinitely by a government. The Latin term means ‘you have the body’, i.e., that when the government is holding a person, that person can demand a hearing on why they are being held. Habeas corpus is older than the Constitution -- it was part of English Common Law back to the 12th century, and forms a key basis of the legal underpinning of the US Constitution. Critics of the PATRIOT Act claim that Pres. Bush has suspended habeas corpus illegally (by holding prisoners in Guantanamo, e.g.); the Consitution specifies that habeas can only be suspended for civil war or insurrection.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 set up a system of ‘FISA Courts’ which would decide when it was ok for the federal government to spy on people -- by granting surveillance warrants against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the US. Opponents claim that the FISA courts are sufficient safeguards and that Pres. Bush is conducting ‘warrantless surveillance’ by avoiding FISA.
- Secret wiretapping: The
Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 established restrictions on unauthorized government access to private electronic communications, such as email or phone calls. The PATRIOT Act weakened those restrictions, which opponents say allows the government to secretly record email and phone conversations by US citizens. An additional controversy comes from requiring electronic service providers, such as phone companies and email providers, to supply the federal government with customer records without telling the customers.
- Secret Renditions: Since 9/11, the CIA has flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation, a practice known as ‘rendition’. For several years, the rendition flights were secret, and denied by the CIA and the Bush Administration. In Nov. 2007, under mounting evidence about the use of European airfields for this purpose, the CIA and Bush Administration admitted the use of secret renditions, including the explicit involvement of several European governments. The ultimate destination of rendition flights is usually Guantanamo prison. The Bush Administration justifies the practice as necessary for the War on Terror.
- Guantanamo: Guantanamo Bay is a US enclave in Cuba, run by the US military (nicknamed ‘Gitmo’). Beginning in late 2001, the US military has used the base to hold prisoners ca
ptured in Afghanistan and Iraq. The prisoners are considered ‘enemy combatants’ and hence not subject to US law, and since they are outside the United States, their legal status has always been ambiguous. In early 2008, the first military tribunals were held to determine these prisoners' status.
- Waterboarding: The US Constitution forbids torture, and the 2008 candidates argue about whether waterboarding constitutes torture, and whether torture is allowed in Guantanamo or other prisons outside the US. Waterboarding simulates drowning, and has been used since the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century as a form of coercing prisoner testimony. The political controversy around waterboarding was the key topic of Attorney General Michael Mukasey's November 2007 confirmation hearings, which led to an official admission that the US had indeed used the method.