Funding sought for U.S. security as Patriot Act provisions debated


    By Erin Chapman

    Recent terrorist activities around the globe have caused some leaders in the United States to reconsider the way the nation fights terrorism.

    New York senators requested $1 billion to increase security for the New York subway system after the terrorist attacks in London.

    In addition to the requests, the Bush administration also increased the Homeland Security department?s budget by 7 percent for 2006, giving it $41.1 billion to prevent terrorism in the United States, according to the department Web site.

    The Department of Homeland Security has become the most expansive agency in the federal government covering the Department of Public Safety, helping with national emergencies and disasters and preventing future terrorism attacks.

    Since the creation of the department, Homeland Security has some legislation that is up for renewal this year, including portions of the Patriot Act. The recent explosions in London caused the department to review and raise the security levels across the nation.

    ?It [Homeland Security] interacts with local and state officials to adopt measures that will protect the citizens and the United States from terrorism attacks, as well as adopt federal measures that do the same,? said Richard Davis, a BYU political science professor.

    Congress passed the Patriot Act less than two months after the Sept. 11 attacks, which gave the federal government the freedom to search citizens? library records and to search a home without giving prior notice.

    ?In a general sense, I believe that civil liberties have to be paramount,? Davis said. ?If in fact we institute measures that make it easier for the government to survey us, but at the same time track down terrorists, we have to ask ourselves the question if we actually have lost what we are fighting to preserve.?

    Other experts think differently; BYU political science professor Robert Goss said that in order for there to be safety, some freedoms must be surrendered.

    ?It?s hard for anyone of us to say that we are willing to give up any of our civil liberties,” Goss said. “I?d rather give up some civil liberties in order to secure some safety for all the people in the United States.?

    Some lobbying groups, like the conservative Free Congress Foundation in Washington, D.C., are asking for the federal government to revise provisions in the Patriot Act.

    Steve Lilienthal, policy analyst for the Free Congress Foundation, said the foundation is generally in favor of the Patriot Act, but said he thinks there is a need for some form of review of the act.

    ?We definitely want some control and oversight of those powers that?s provided by the Patriot Act,? Lilienthal said.

    The House of Representatives is currently discussing the proposed provisions for the Patriot Act, which expires Dec. 31.

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