Past Event

Café Society: Should We Re-Authorize the Patriot Act Next Month?

The recent debate over the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, coupled with the revelation of extensive domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, have underscored the growing tension between the competing needs to collect domestic intelligence for the prevention of terrorism and protect citizens’ basic right to privacy.

For some, the Patriot Act and the NSA’s domestic program recalls the use of eavesdropping capability to spy on political opponents, civil rights and anti-war activists during the 1950’s and 60’s. Others see these programs as necessary and appropriate responses to a foe that has not hesitated to use our own communities as bases of operation.

While virtually everyone on the right and left agree that unchecked government intrusion into our private lives is unacceptable, the distinction between what is appropriate and what crosses this line is vague. Civil liberties have been sacrificed during previous conflicts, only to be restored once peace was achieved. Given the amorphous nature of the war on terrorism however, will we even know when the battle has been won and citizens’ privacy rights have been restored? Or will these programs permanently alter the dynamic between citizen and state?

In the age of terrorism, where should this line be drawn? Do the benefits of allowing the government unfettered access to the nation’s telecommunications network outweigh the ensuing encroachment on personal privacy?

Join us in this new year to discuss the USA Patriot Act.

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For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.