LABELING THEORY AS EVIDENCED IN PATRIOT ACT 19
LabelingTheory as Evidenced in Patriot Act
Thelabeling theory has always been relevant in explaining the behaviorrelating to crime. This makes it an exceedingly influential andimportant theory in criminology (Vito & Maahs, 2012). However,some individuals have recently neglected the theory. The theoryindicates how self-identity and conduct of individuals may becomedetermined by the terms utilized in describing or grouping them. Itis through the theory that ethical challenges of the Patriot Act canbe explained. The purpose of this report is to discuss the ethicalchallenges posed by the Patriot Act specifically the use ofwiretapping by the government. This work will utilize secondaryresources in discussing how the use of wiretapping as provided by thePatriot Act is labeled. It will be indicated that wiretapping islabeled differently by two groups where one group labels it asdeviant while the other group labels it as not deviant. It would berecommended that the government should help in labeling wiretappingappropriately in order to succeed in the war on terror.
Labelingtheory is exceedingly important because it helps individuals inidentifying with a given label. When something is labeled asacceptable or unacceptable, people will try to identify with the sideof the item depending on the label. Wiretapping under the Patriot Acthas been considered an exceedingly vital tool in the fight on terrorhowever, wiretapping has been labeled differently by differentAmericans. On one side it has been labeled as a tool that isnecessary and inevitable while on the other it has been labeled as atool that is not necessary since it leads to loss of right toprivacy. It is important for the government to ensure thatwiretapping is labeled appropriately in order to have success in thewar on terror. Failure to this, the government may not succeed on thewar on terror because of the way people have difference in labelingwiretapping. Therefore, studying of the manner in which wiretappingis labeled is critical in the fight on terror.
Backgroundof the Patriot Act
ThePatriot Act became signed by President George W. Bush following theSeptember 11 attack. The primary aim of forming the Act was to aid infighting terrorism. However, the Act has been perceived to beunethical by Americans due to its violation of some rights providedby the U.S. Constitution. The Patriot Act has been perceived toviolate the rights to privacy emanating from the massive surveillancethat the Act has given to federal officials (Abele, 2005). The denialof the privacy right as provided in the constitution has led tocitizens terming the Act as unethical. According to the Act, federalofficials are given immense authority in tracking and interceptingcommunications that is used for foreign intelligence gathering aswell as law enforcement.
PatriotAct makes adjustments concerning how the government handles onlineactivities as well as surveillance. In respect to the surveillanceused by the government, the Act expands on the approaches that thegovernment utilized before 9/11. Sections 213, 214, 215, and 218 ofthis Act emerge as the four areas that experienced the most radicalchanges. Section 213 expands the ability of the government inconducting secret searches. Having this section extended, thegovernment has the permission to search individuals without notifyingthem until some facts become revealed. This section permits thegovernment to conduct search warrants even for minor crimes (Bhagwat,2010). Section 214 of the Act offers an expansion to the FourthAmendment immunity for spying that collects “addressing”information concerning the origin and target of communications.Section 214 expands the pen register omission of wiretap law. In casethe government desires to access e-mail logs as well as addresses ofpast e-mail correspondents, it only needs to indicate specific factsdepicting reasonable grounds for believing that the information ismaterial and relevant to a given ongoing criminal investigation.Through this section, the government is allowed to obtain a trap/penorder through indicating to the court that the surveillance isrelevant to a certain criminal investigation. Also, through section214, secret courts are given the right of authorizing intelligenceagencies to conduct surveillance this eliminates the various checksthat the government had to go through previously.
Thegovernment is has the power of looking at personal records held by athird party under section 215. According to the section, thegovernment has the power of forcing any company to turn over itspersonal cliental information. This authority offers the governmentfree reign of looking at anyone’s financial records, medicalhistories, and any other information that is on the file. Undersection 218, new tactics of obtaining foreign intelligence areincluded. This section lowers the bar for launch of foreignintelligence wiretaps. The Patriot Act puts to suspension Americancitizen’s personal privacy and requires to be modified in order forthe government’s surveillance conduct is checked and controlled.
ThePatriot Act has a lot of significance in the area ofcounter-terrorism. One of the significance of the Act is that itallows investigators in using tools that were already available ininvestigating drug trafficking and organized crime. Most of the toolsthat this Act provides to the law enforcement in fighting terrorismhave been in use for decades in fighting drug dealers and organizedcrime, and these tools have been reviewed as well as approved by thecourts (Mullard & Cole, 2007). The Act allows law enforcementofficers to use surveillance in the fight against more crimes ofterror. Prior to the Act, courts could allow law enforcement to useelectronic surveillance in investigating most non-terrorism, ordinarycrimes like password fraud, mail fraud and drug crimes. The Actenabled investigators to collect information when searching for afull range of terrorism-related crimes.
Anothersignificance of the Act is that it permits federal officers to followsophisticated terrorists that are trained in evading detection. Thefederal agents have been using roving wiretaps in investigatingordinary crimes, racketeering and drug offenses included. A federaljudge can authorize a roving wiretap to be used in a certain suspectinstead of a given phone or communication device. Since internationalterrorists are perceived to be sophisticated and trained on how tothwart surveillance through rapidly changing communication devicesand locations, the Act authorizes federal agents to seek courtpermission in using the same approach in national securityinvestigations in tracking terrorists (Riley & Rand Corporation,2005).
TheAct also allows law enforcement to carry out investigations withoutthe need of tipping off terrorists. When carrying out aninvestigation, it is necessary not to always tip off criminalsbecause in case they are tip off early they may flee, intimidate orkill witnesses, destroy evidence, or cut off contact with theassociates. Thus, federal courts in narrow situations have allowedlaw enforcement officers to delay when a subject is informed that acourt-approved search warrant has been issued. The notice is alwaysgiven however, the reasonable delay provides law enforcement withtime for identifying criminal associates, eliminating immediatethreats to community, and coordination of multiple arrests withouttipping them off before time. Such delayed search notifications havebeen utilized for decades and have been proven critical in organizedcrimes and drug cases, and have been reviewed and upheld by courts asconstitutional.
TheAct also facilitates sharing of information and cooperation amidgovernment agencies in order to better connect information. ThePatriot Act removed major barriers that barred the law enforcement,national defense communities, and intelligence from speaking andcoordinating their work in protecting the American people and thenational security. Through the Act, the federal prosecutors,intelligence officials, police officers, and FBI agents are capableof protecting communities by connecting information in order touncover terrorist plots prior to their completion.
Furthermore,the Patriot Act is significant since it updated the law so as tomirror new technologies as well as new threats. The Act helped inbringing the law up to date with present technology. This impliesthat it is now feasible for law enforcement officials to receive asearch warrant regardless of where a terrorist-related activity hasoccurred. Prior to the Act, law enforcement officers were required toget a search warrant in the district where they intended to carry outa search. Nevertheless, modern terrorism investigations usually spanseveral districts. With the Act, it is now possible for lawenforcement officers to obtain warrants in any district. Thus, theAct helped in streamlining the search-warrant process.
Inaddition, the Patriot Act is also significant because it helped inincreasing the penalties for individuals who commit terrorist crimes.The act aided in creating a new offense, which prohibits harboringpersons that have or are about to commit different terroristoffenses. The Act also enhanced several conspiracy penalties such assabotage of nuclear facilities, attack of communication systems,arson, and killings in federal facilities (Smith & Hung, 2010).In previous laws, most of the terrorism statutes did not prohibit theengagement in conspiracies specifically. Besides, the Act enhancedthe insufficient maximum penalties for different crimes that arelikely to be carried by terrorists such as arson, support toterrorist organizations, destruction of energy facilities, and damageof national defense materials.
EthicalDilemma of the Patriot Act
Theethical issue of the Patriot Act comes in due to its provision ofwiretapping that invades people’s personal privacy. Theconstitution offers individuals the right to privacy however, thisAct attempts to deny individuals this right through the practice ofwiretapping (Pollock, 2008). This questions the ethical foundation ofthe Act. In the following paragraphs, the ethical dimension of theAct will be analyzed through establishing whether wiretapping allowedby the Act is ethical or not.
Wiretappingtechnology has enabled government to reach past borders in order toprotect the citizens like it has never been imagined. The USgovernment has engaged in wiretapping during 1960’s and 1970’swhen it implemented a widespread wiretapping program as well aspermeation of risky groups thought to be an endangerment to thegovernment. The program was full of abuses and even proceeded to spyLuther King Jr. The Supreme Court sanctioned warrantless wiretapping.Therefore, an individual should be issued with a search warrant thatindicates that wiretapping is being used. However, according to thePatriot Act, the warrant is delayed.
Privacyimplies that an individual has the freedom from having his/herpersonal information and life tampered with. In the Bill of Rightsand the U.S. Constitution, there is nowhere that privacy has beenportrayed as an inalienable right (Cordella, 1996). Some of the lawexperts as well as scholars have used the Fourth Amendment ininferring that all citizens have the right to privacy because of thesearch and seizure section. In establishing that individuals have theright to privacy, most scholars refer to the Griswoldv. Connecticut,which indicated that as individuals, the right to privacy exists(Herman, 2011). Emanating from the technology that exists today,personal privacy is compromised almost all the time via unsolicitedcell phone videos and pictures that are taken without consent,spamming, identity theft, spoofing, and phishing. For the most part,citizens believe that there are circumstances which limit theirprivacy in a soaring technology age (Bhagwat, 2010). Despite this,most citizens argue that they usually still have some control overthe lack of privacy in the technology age. For instance, people canturn off cookies. Nevertheless, there is one area that most citizensbelieve that they do not have the capacity of controllingcyber-technology this is when it comes to the issue of governmentsurveillance. Most individuals living in the U.S. believe that thegovernment cannot do any harm through wiretapping since thegovernment does this with the primary aim of stopping terrorists.Thus, the ethical dilemma that comes in concerns whether thegovernment did any harm by introducing ‘sneak and peek’ oncitizens via the use of wiretapping.
Sidesof the Ethical Dilemma
Thereare two sides of the argument. On one side, the loss of personalprivacy is perceived as inevitable and necessary if the country is tobe protected from terrorist attacks. The other side is against theloss of personal privacy and argues that giving up the basic privacyright is an immense price to pay to the government for beingprotected. On the other hand, opponents that are against wiretappingargue that the government is too big and must be controlled andlimited in what it can do. This can be achieved through due processof rights and avoids misuse and abuse of governmental power.
Thechief uneasiness behind wiretapping is the idea that the governmentgathers and keeps forever, a vast amount of information concerningindividuals in U.S., citizens included. The underlying fear concernswhether the government is maintaining the DNA of every individual sothat it knows everything concerning them. It is out of this fear thatemerges the dilemma of how the citizens can be kept safe, and thesame time not having the government stepping their boundaries ofpersonal privacy, as enshrined in the constitution. The questionwhether the government can be trusted and not abuse the power it hasstill stands.
Theargument against wiretapping by the government is that in casewiretapping is allowed then the government would push the boundariesand attempt to gain as much power as possible. Wiretapping wouldimply that the government would take control over every aspect ofcitizen’s life and implement total rule while ignoring theconstitution. According to individuals supporting this argument, thisgovernmental power cannot be allowed and needs to be stopped whilecitizens still have personal private rights.
Thosethat are in favor of wiretapping believe that the U.S. constitutionhas bestowed powers upon the president to protect the country fromany, individual, group, or nation from conducting an attack on it.Thus, collecting intelligence of all of forms is a key aspect part ofwar on terror. Because U.S. has declared war on terrorism, collectingintelligence should not be perceived as different from any other timeof war. The military and intelligence officers need to know where thetarget it without wiretapping, they would end up shooting in thedark. Individuals in favor of wiretapping are of the opinion thatwiretapping is absolutely ethical and need to be used by theintelligence agencies in protecting the U.S. citizens fromindividuals who desire to do them harm. Since war on terror isdifferent from other wars because the enemy is slippery therefore,the government needs to use wiretapping as a way of getting theslippery enemy.
Inthe United States, there are different laws that support wiretapping.One such law is the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)that was passed on 18thSeptember, 2001. According to this law, the president has the powerof using all appropriate and necessary force against organizations,nations, or individuals who he deems they planned, committed,authorized, or aided in the 9/11 attacks. Mostly, warrants forwiretapping can be issued under the Electronic Communications PrivacyAct (EC). This acts permits for traceable devices to be added tophones of the suspects and also show the internet sites visited.Another law that has been passed to support wiretapping is thePatriot Act. This Act authorizes roving wiretaps that allow morepower to the FBI and avoidance of the courts. This Act also upholdsthe Electronic Communications Privacy Act (EC) and wiretapping canonly be conducted in regard to a criminal activity. Because mostterrorists conduct criminal activities, the law then permitswiretapping.
Anotherlaw that supports wiretapping is the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Act (FISA). FISA permits the executive branch to get aninterception order through providing that the surveillance willcreate foreign intelligence concerning terrorism to a secret ForeignIntelligence Surveillance court. A unique feature about FISA is thatit is usually directed towards permanent residents, aliens, U.S.citizens, and corporations. In 1998, FISA became amended by Congressto allow pen/trap orders that record telephone numbers as well asbusiness records. Later, through the Patriot Act, the FISA courtbecame bypassed altogether.
Theother law supporting wiretapping is the Homeland Security Act of 2002(Ruschmann & Marzilli, 2005). This Act offered increased powersto law enforcement agencies of tracking down suspected criminals andterrorists. The Act also allowed an enhanced e-mail and phonecommunication monitoring. In addition, Protect America Act entailsanother law that supports wiretapping. This Act modernized FISA so asto provide the intelligence community with essential tools that helpin acquiring critical information concerning terrorists that have thedesire of harming America. This Act restores FISA to its initialfocus of protecting the rights of individuals in the U.S., while notacting as an impediment to collecting foreign intelligence on targetsthat are located in foreign nations. The Patriot Act has already madeAmerica safe through enabling the intelligence community to close animportant intelligence gap, which existed prior to the Act becominglaw.
Accordingto those opposing wiretapping, it needs to be stopped because it isagainst the right to privacy. One of the laws that oppose wiretappingis FISA law. This law scales back the president’s abuse in carryingout foreign intelligence investigations. According to Section 201 ofthe FISA enacted in 1978, FISA should be the exclusive means by whichelectronic surveillance as well as the interception of domestic wire,electronic and oral communications may be conducted. The opponents ofwiretapping have an argument that the government has a lot of powerand still wants the citizens to have no power in ay issue thisemanates from the issue of surveillance where individuals are beingwatched without their knowledge. Because of the government’s powerin conducting the searches, the government no longer requires validreasons for invading an individual’s privacy and may be veryambiguous with the information they offer the general publicregarding their searches and progress in attaining their goal.
Thepassing of the Act can be considered unethical because it has led tothe compromising of Americans’ civil liberties. With the passage ofthe Act, the Americans have a loss in their capacity of keeping theirlives as well as personal affairs out of the public view. Theprovisions of this Act provide government with power to access anunprecedented amount of citizens’ personal information, which isunethical. It is unethical to deny people the rights that they needto have through using power. Personal private rights should berespected at all times and abuse of these rights constitutes anunethical conduct (Tavani, 2007). Prior to the passage of the Act,personal private records were usually protected however, with thepassage of the Act, this right has been taken away from the citizens.Access of private personal records by the government can beconsidered unethical because this may affect an individual’s wellbeing (Herman, 2011). Personal right to privacy can be considered asa very vital liberty and so the infringement of this liberty isperceived as denial of very important right. Therefore, the Act isunethical.
Accordingto Nanette (2013), a person tends to embrace labels as a source ofpersonal identity, rather than control their effect of his or herbehavior. Nanette further discusses a paradigm that approaches thevarious aspects of deviance and social control. This implies thatthrough labeling, an individual gets identity. The labeling theoryindicates how self-identity and conduct of individuals may becomedetermined by the terms utilized in describing or grouping them(Deflem, 2006). Labeling theory helps in establishing a direction orperception that an individual would have towards something. When anaspect is labeled deviant, it may lead a person in engaging in theaspect because he is also associated and labeled as such. Therefore,the view of deviance is very critical when the society is handling anissue. It is critical for a society to engage carefully in thelabeling of an aspect as deviant or not (Deflem, 2006).
RelatingPatriot Act & Labeling Theory
Accordingto Nanette (2013), an individual tends to embrace the label as asource of personal identity. In relating Patriot Act with labelingtheory, the question that comes across is whether surveillance orwiretapping as provided in the Act is deviant or not. From the aboveanalysis, it has been indicated that there are individuals who labelor perceive wiretapping as necessary and inevitable while otherslabel it as unnecessary and a violation of private rights. Dependingwith these labels, there are those that support wiretapping and thosethat oppose it. According to the labeling theory, people havedifferences in the manner that they perceive things. According toScott (2002), most individuals tend to focus their views on theoffender instead of the victim during labeling. In the case ofwiretapping, individuals who criticize the government on the issueclaiming that it infringes their rights to privacy end up being seenas criminals. This is because they do not want to be searched. Thequestion as to whether individuals who criticize the government dueto their rights should be seen as deviant is of immense importancebecause it helps in bringing out the notion of labeling. Depending onhow individuals label wiretapping, there are different outcomes.
Individualswho label wiretapping as a good option are usually seen to love thegovernment on what it is doing concerning matters of security.According to these individuals, there is nothing wrong with thegovernment infringing their privacy rights in order to achievesuccess in the war on terror. Safety can be perceived to be animportant aspect that these individuals associate their governmentwith. Therefore, these individuals can do anything that would makethe government fight the war on terror to its finality, which evenmeans losing their freedom. On the other hand, those that labelwiretapping as a crime because it ends up hurting their personalprivate rights are lovers of security, but they understand that thereis a level that the government should exercise its power and shouldnot be exceeded. Although everyone desires to be safe, it is notright to infringe one’s rights in attainment of security, unless itis on very critical grounds. Therefore, all that these individualsfight for is a limit to exercise of the government power.
IsWiretapping Deviant or Not?
Inanswering this question, two sides will be considered. On one side,it will be argued that wiretapping can be labeled as deviant while onthe other it is not. According to James (2009), labeling is importantin defining deviance. When an individual labels a thing in a givenmanner, he/she ends up defining whether the thing is deviant or not.In simple terms, an item that is deviant is an item that havesocietal disapproval ad is made to be so by individuals. Thewiretapping provided for in the Patriot Act can be considered asdeviant because it deprives of individuals an important right, whichis provided for in the constitution. It is the right of the Americansto enjoy the right to privacy however, wiretapping ensures that thisright is not enjoyed. Through wiretapping, the government uses powerto ensure that the right to privacy is not enjoyed. As humans, anyonewould like to keep his life as a secret and reveal parts that areonly necessary to other parties. However, when using wiretapping, allcommunications and personal life information is revealed to thegovernment because the government puts its citizens undersurveillance without them knowing. Those that feel that the action isdeviant argue that the government needs to look for other ways thatit can fight terrorism other than using wiretapping, which affectsthe rights of individuals.
Onthe other hand, wiretapping is not deviant because of its benefits tothe society. Although wiretapping is considered to deprive Americansthe right to privacy, it has been considered an important aspect inthe fight against terror (Ruschmann & Marzilli, 2015). Terroristsare usually perceived to use sophisticated means and tools inconducting their activities. This implies that the use of simplemethods in fighting terrorism may not succeed since terrorists mayoutsmart the simple approaches used. This makes the use ofwiretapping a critical approach in fighting terrorism. Throughwiretapping, it has been possible for America to keep the citizenssafe. Thus, emanating from the benefit that wiretapping brings to theAmericans, it cannot be considered deviant.
Becausedifferent Americans label wiretapping differently, there is adifference in the way the two groups view war on terror. Theindividuals who label wiretapping as deviant usually see the war onterror as aspect that forces them to lose their civil liberties. Thisis because it is the war on terror that makes the government to gofor wiretapping. In case, there was no war on terror, the Americanscould probably be enjoying their rights to privacy however, the waron terror has led to loss of these rights. On the other hand, thosethat label wiretapping as not deviant do not blame the war on terrorfor their freedom. These individuals tend to be satisfied that thegovernment is using the power that it has in fighting for theirsafety. To them, loss of civil liberties is not important as the waron terror. Because of the difference in the outcome, it is criticalfor the government to consider coming up with a solution that wouldmake wiretapping well labeled. This would help in having unity in thewar on terror.
Thegovernment is in a dilemma concerning whether it should use power andwin the war on terror or it should give back citizens some power andstop using wiretapping in the fight on terror. From the research, ithas emerged that there are two groups of Americans that labelwiretapping differently. There are those that perceive thatwiretapping has led to their loss of part of their civil liberties,and thus have blame on the government for the use of wiretapping. Onthe other hand, there are those that label wiretapping as necessaryand inevitable and thus do not blame the government for the use ofwiretapping. There is need for the government to ensure that themanner in which individuals label wiretapping is harmonized in orderto have success on the war on terror. A future research is requiredin order to establish whether wiretapping has been successful in thefight against terror. The future research will help in determiningwhether it would be necessary to use wiretapping or other methods canbe used. Besides, the future research can help the government inlabeling the use of wiretapping as deviant or not.
Labelingtheory argues that a person tends to embrace labels as a source ofpersonal identity, rather than control their effect of his or herbehavior. Labeling theory is seen as being important in the issue ofgovernment using wiretapping as an approach to fight against terror.The labeling of wiretapping as an approach to fighting terror hasbeen labeled differently by Americans. Individuals who labelwiretapping as deviant usually see the war on terror as an aspectthat forces them to lose their civil liberties. This is because it isthe war on terror that makes the government to go for wiretapping. Incase, there was no war on terror, the Americans could probably beenjoying their rights to privacy however, the war on terror has ledto loss of these rights. On the other hand, those who labelwiretapping as not deviant do not blame the war on terror for theirfreedom. These individuals tend to be satisfied that the governmentis using the power that it has in fighting for their safety. The useof wiretapping is justified because terrorists are usually perceivedto use sophisticated means and tools in conducting their activities.This implies that the use of simple methods in fighting terrorism maynot succeed since terrorists may outsmart the simple approaches used.Nevertheless, loss of personal privacy rights is encouraged by theuse of wiretapping. The question is whether the government shouldcontinue using wiretapping or should come up with other approachesthat would secure the civil liberties of Americans. It is importantto carry out a research that would identify whether wiretapping isefficient in fighting terrorism. This will help in labelingwiretapping appropriately.
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