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It is very difficult to compare and contrast the benefits and problems associated with the Patriot Act in any objective way. In theory, the benefits and problems are quite clear. However, in practice, we do not really know what sort of impact the law has had.
The theoretical benefit of the Patriot Act is that it keeps us safer from terrorism than we would be without it. The Patriot Act was passed soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was meant to provide the government with more power to investigate potential terrorists. By giving the government these enhanced powers, we were supposed to be making ourselves safer from further terrorist attacks.
The theoretical problem of the Patriot Act is that it infringes on our civil liberties. Many of the enhanced powers that the act gives the government are, in the minds of some, excessive. People who are concerned with civil liberties believe that the Patriot Act allows the government too much of an ability to snoop in our private lives without a good cause to suspect us.
The problem with comparing the benefits and problems of this act is that we do not know whether the act has kept us safe and we cannot quantify how much our civil liberties have been infringed upon. There is no way for us to know if any legitimate terrorist plots have been prevented by government agents using the Patriot Act. On the other hand, there is no real way to say how much the government has been intruding on our lives.
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