When most Americans hear the Patriot Act mentioned, they immediately think of their privacy and how the government is infringing on it. There are many debates as to whether or not the Patriot Act is unconstitutional or not. Many feel that it gives the government the unlawful right to spy on its citizens and that they have the power to watch our every single move. Others however, believe that is a necessary tool the government must have in order to stop terrorists and prevent any attacks on this country. But the real question is: is the Patriot Act infringing on the civil liberties that our constitution gives us? We are living in a time where we have so many different methods of communication, and many of those are able to made secret. With all these channels of communications for potential terrorists, the government felt a need to take control and have a widespread surveillance program in effect. The problem many have is that they feel it is not focused on investigating potential terrorists, but that its main focus is to spy on innocent Americans (Rosen 1). Which would right away be a violation of the 4th amendment -which states that no one should be the subject of any unwarranted search and seizures. Most people understand that there are threats facing our country and people that are willing to do harm to innocent Americans.After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade center in 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the USA Patriot Act on October 26, 2001. After the attacks, many people were worried that we were at risk for more similar kinds of attacks. Not everyone was on board with the passing of this law. During the time is was being put into effect, two senators attempted to slow the passage of this bill. These two senators would end up being targeted by supporters of the bill and had anthrax laced letters delivered to them. Ten years later, President Barack Obama would sign a four-year extension of the Patriot Act because parts of the Patriot Act signed into law by President Bush expired on June 1, 2015. However, the key elements of this act that expired were put back into effect with the passage of the Freedom act the very next day. The Patriot Act gives the government the ability to spy on ordinary Americans and gain access to their phone, email communications, bank and credit card records, and surveil them. How can such an act be constitutional and democratic? When asked about the Patriot Act, Senator Ron Wyden explained “I want to deliver a warning … when the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.”.When the FBI issues a National Security Letter the information obtained is saved forever, even if it ends up being that of an innocent American, which most are. The FBI has a pool of information of thousands of innocent people all saved for them to access whenever they wish. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are at least 34,000 law enforcement and intelligence agents that have access to phone records that are collected by these National Security Letters. The FBI was able to access 11,100 telephone records of Americans from just 9 National Security Letters issued by the FBI. Out of the 143,074 National Security Letters issued between 2003 and 2005, none were used in convicting a terrorist. There were 53 criminal referrals however, 17 for money laundering, 17 to immigration, and 19 involving fraud. The basis and the stated goal of the Patriot Act is give our government the tools to be able to catch terrorists and terrorism before any innocent people are harmed. By listening in on communications between suspected terrorists, we are given the upper hand. When it is stated like this, most would think that there is no harm in such an act. The issue however, lies in the reality that agencies like the FBI have not been using this act solely for the purpose of combating terrorism. They are taking advantage of this tool and using it to spy on clearly innocent citizens and claiming that it is a part of their ongoing search for terrorist activities. Both the Democratic and Republican parties criticized the act and argued that it would be used for acts other than terrorism. Jeffrey Rosen in his New York Times article argues that there has been too much power given to law enforcement. In 2007 the Inspector General of the Justice Department found that there was widespread and serious abuse by the FBI under the Patriot Act (Rosen 1). There were many cases in which the FBI under the Patriot Act issued a National Security Letter where there was no clear connection to terrorism.On June 1, 2015 when components of the Patriot Act expired, revisions of these components which include Section 215 needed to be proposed. The power that Section 215 had needed to be cut back and the USA Freedom Act was the solution. This Freedom Act made it so that the National Security Agency can no longer collect phone data whenever they wished. In his article in the New York Times, Peter Bake explains what the changes were. They would now have to go to the actual phone companies who retain the important data with permission from a federal court to do so (Nelson 1). This was a big step in cutting back on the abuse that the Patriot Act initially gave law enforcement agencies like the National Security Agency and the FBI. Landline Phone providers are required to keep records for 18 months, while wireless and online call providers have different policies that range from zero days to ten years (Nelson 1). Many advocates were against this legislature and instead wanted the sections of the Patriot Act to just expire and not be brought back and revised. This is a major component of the Patriot Act that allows the government to gather information on the phone calls of all of its citizens.How did the American public learn of the actions the National Security Agency? Edward Snowden is a former Central Intelligence Agency employee who revealed classified information regarding the National Security Agency while he was a contractor for the US Government. Snowden was charged by the US Department of Justice for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and for stealing government property. Upon hearing this, Snowden fled the country and his current whereabouts are kept private (Couronne 1). Snowden provided journalists with information of which he stole from highly classified documents. Snowden revealed that the government had been monitoring citizens who had no ties to terrorism and who were completely innocent of any wrongdoings. Snowden had a large effect at cutting down the powers the National Security Agency has. He has made himself a criminal, and now lives in constant fear being a wanted man in the United States (Snowden 1). He believes the Freedom Act which was passed is a victory for himself and all American Citizens. The Freedom Act helped cut back on the powers that were given to law enforcement and made it so if they wanted to collect information on an individual, they needed some sort of probable cause. Snowden was standing up for the rights that that the Patriot Act had violated. There have been many debates on whether or not the Patriot Act is unconstitutional and undemocratic. Many believe that the Patriot Act threatens our rights. According to Michael Webster’s article in the Right Side News, “The Patriot Act broadly expands law enforcement’s surveillance and investigative powers and represents one of the most significant threats to civil liberties, privacy and democratic traditions in U.S. history.” Webster believes that the Patriot Act goes against the democratic norms and traditions that we have adopted all throughout our history. Many constitutional lawyers believe that the Patriot Act should be repealed instead of being reinstated (Webster 1). Many aspects of the Patriot Act have been deemed unconstitutional, even in the eyes of the law. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act allows the government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens even without probable cause. This goes directly against the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. constitution.I believe that to make the Patriot Act more constitutional and democratic, we must make sure that it is not abused. We should have committees that review the usage of the Patriot Act by agencies and confirm that there is a probable cause for each investigation. By doing so, we minimize the improper surveillance of innocent people. Thus, someone could argue that the Constitution would be in support of them. However, if the Patriot Act has a proven track record and has been able to foil terrorist plots, which it has, then we should not completely reject the idea of the government monitoring us as citizens. We should make sure that it is done within the bounds set by the constitution and the democratic spirit of this country. I started this essay questioning whether or not the US Constitution allows for the Patriot Act and other monitoring acts- and throughout this essay I have come to the conclusion that it is unconstitutional. If we were to just look at the history of the act and the amendments it violates, the act is undeniably unconstitutional.