The primary causes that lead the United States government to spy on their citizens were the election of president of George W. Bush, the appointment of conservative judges, and the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
17 years ago the entire world saw how two planes crashed into the world trade center, this instilled a large amount of fear and anger toward specific groups of people, specifically to people from the middle east and people of Islamic beliefs. However, all Islamic terrorism has been done by certain radical islamic groups such as ISIS, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda, that take their actions to extreme heights.
Their misinterpretation of the Quran and Hadith cause them to go do violent acts and use their victims as an example of what happens when people don’t have the same beliefs as them. These extremist beliefs stem from Qutbism, which is an ideology developed by Sayyid Qutb and that is widely known to have influenced terrorists such as Osama bin-Laden.
Some of the main goals of the Qutbist ideology is to “reconquer” the muslim community that has reverted to godless ignorance and to forcibly eliminate Jahiliyya (the ignorant or stupid) from existence. Osama bin Laden released a statement about a month after 9/11 saying ‘There is America, hit by God in one of its softest spots. Its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank God for that.” ‘There is America, full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that. What America is tasting now is something insignificant compared to what we have tasted for scores of years.
Our nation has been tasting this humiliation and this degradation for more than 80 years. Its sons are killed, its blood is shed, its sanctuaries are attacked, and no one hears and no one heeds.’ After these statements were made it didn’t take long before laws were made to combat terrorism.
With the conservative judges that President Bush appointed during his time in office, laws such as The USA Patriot Act and The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance were able to be passed with ease. The USA Patriot act was mainly used to create funds and use them to help victims of terrorism, it also gave the government more authority to track money being used by terrorist groups. However, this new law also gave the federal government the ability to easily collect millions of communication records from American citizens. It was Senator Ron Wyden who was one of the few people worried about this new law and the secret powers that it gave the government but decided to debate against it in later years when it was a less panicking time. That time came in 2006, where a filibuster led by Feingold took place but barely changed anything in the surveillance provisions. Five years after that filibuster happened, Ron Wyden was once again outspoken about all of the secret surveillance that Americans had no knowledge of but after all his efforts to warn people, congress still passed a four year extension. Worries about government surveillance once again settled down until Edward Snowden, a government contractor, decided to leak documents which had revealed that the government had phone records from every customer of multiple phone companies and was using Section 215 of the Patriot Act as a loophole to justify what they were doing. Section 215 of the Patriot Act was meant to be used to get business records the are related to only terrorism investigation, they tried to explain their actions by saying “permits discovery of large volumes of data in circumstances where doing so is necessary to identify much smaller amounts of information within that data.” Many congress members got angered by this weak excuse. On June 1st, 2015 due to the law not being renewed some parts of the Patriot Act expired and among those parts was Section 215.
Most people would think that all the secret surveillance would end there but it still hasn’t. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is still in effect, section 702 of this law is meant to obtain email communications of foreigners living outside of the U.S. in order the collect information about potential threats, however, intelligence agencies still also collect emails from Americans as well. Many people feel that this can easily be abused; and that’s exactly what happened in May 2015. The FBI arrested a Chinese-American professor from Temple University. The FBI were certain that he was a chinese spy after looking through his email, eventually all of his charges were dropped months later after closely examining his communications and realized that he was simply contacting colleagues in China. Xiaoxing Xi, the Chinese-American professor, stated this after being released “I was charged for things that were just normal collaborations. If all these normal activities could be seen as criminal activities, then the environment is quite frightening.” This is a perfect example of how wrong it is for a government to go through a person’s communications without consent or a warrant. In efforts to stop any terrorism or threats the government has