Has The Fourth Amendment Been Violated in the Wake of War on Terror?

The Fourth Amendment asserts that any U.S citizen has a right to be secure in their persons, papers, houses and effects, against unreasonable seizures or searches. In addition, the act provides that these rights shall not be violated, and warrants shall only be issued upon a probable cause supported by an oath, stating where to be searched and person or property to be seized. However, the 9/11 terrorist acts have changed the perspectives on how the individual rights are being handled in the country. The aftermath of the 9/11 acts led to the “War on Terrorism”, which by historical standards has led to the violation of the civil liberties.

Soon after the September 11th terrorist attack, the Congress responded by enacting the Patriotic Act of 2001. The act was created with an aim to unite and strengthen America through the provision of the appropriate tools that were required to intercept and obstruct terrorism. However, according to (Roach, 2011), the act has become an avenue through which the government has propagated abuse and overreaching.

The Fourth Amendment as stated provides for the protection of the civil liberties. However, the declaration of “War on Terror” led to the introduction of the Patriotic Act of 2001 which has expanded the federal government surveillance and scope of the American criminal laws. The federal government has employed the Patriotic Act to limit subversive speech and carry out preventive detention, a violation of the Fourth Amendment (Roach, 2011). The author further points that the law has been applied beyond the borders, where people have been detained in Guantanamo prison for over ten years without charges. Moreover, people have been sent abroad for questioning, in countries where they are known to violate civil liberties. In effect, the Patriotic Act designed after the 9/11 as a response to the terror attack have been employed to an extent that they have led to violation of provisions of the Fourth Amendment.

After the 9/11 terror attacks, new paradigm on war against terrorism was introduced by attorney general, John D. Ashcroft. The change in the way in which terrorism was tacked led to many violations of the Fourth Amendment by criminal justice department. The new paradigm changed the way in which the people suspected to be terrorists were arrested. It encouraged arrests of the suspect terrorists for the immigration offenses. Moreover, surveillance was enhanced on the religious and dissident groups. The result was not only the violation of the Fourth Amendment but it encroached on the rights that were previously protected under the First Amendment.

One of the strategies on “War on Terrorism” was to prevent terrorism before it happened (Stampnitzky, 2013). Numerous strategies including the Fusion Centers were developed in order enhance information sharing. Whilst the fusion centers have long stated that clean data is discarded as soon as they are verified to be clean, there have been many federal arrests that have been made, which required little proof of concrete conduct.

Moreover, the past decade after the September attacks has witnessed increased use of informants and sting operations, a fact that has increased mistrust in some Muslim communities in the United States (Stampnitzky, 2013). For example, Imam in Albany was trapped in a plot that involved shoulder-launched missiles. The use of such investigative tools is a contravention of the Fourth Amendment, yet the federal prosecutors have been at the forefront in justifying such tactics. To sum up, the “War on Terror” has created numerous terrorist preventive tactics that have seen the violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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