Patriot Act

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The USA PATRIOT Act, more commonly known as the Patriot Act, was an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush. This paper will review and analyze the stance of the government and where government is in the passing and regulation of the legislation, the original legislation as it was put into law, litigation that questioned and expressed concern about the constitutionality of Patriot Act and subsequent legislation due to the outcome of some of those lawsuits. The Patriot Act, like any piece of legislation, was a reaction to events that questioned what the government’s role should be in differentiating between individual and societal rights. Due to the spectrum of information covered in the Patriot Act, this paper will reflect the process of government in only a few of the more controversial aspects of the bill. The term USA PATRIOT Act stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.

The Patriot Act was implemented in response to the fear and widespread panic that engulfed the Nation after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The Patriot Act was originally meant “To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.” The Patriot Act is a vast encompassing piece of legislation. It examined more closely how financial transactions and institutions were regulated in the United States. Additionally, it extended the discretion of law enforcement at all levels in detaining and deporting suspected terrorists, and expanded the definition of terrorism to what we perceive it as today. The Patriot Act had a profound impact in curtailing American civil liberties.

The Patriot Act was written by Viet D. Dinh, the Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and originally presented to Congress by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. Congress passed The USA Patriot Act almost unanimously by the House with a vote of 357-66 on October 24, 2001, and in the Senate 98-1 on October 25, 2001, with the support of members from both the Democrat and Republican parties. While in the Senate, Senator Russ Feingold, the only opponent to the bill, proposed a number of amendments, which all passed, to contradict some controversial pieces of the original legislation. Some of the original legislation not passed due to Senator Feingold’s efforts include; Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act, the Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act, and the Security and Freedom Ensured Act. The Patriot Act was enacted into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. With only 45 days elapsed between the attacks on September 11 and the signing of the bill, many critics questioned if anyone actually read the bill or if it passed solely on fear-mongering. Rep. John Conyers, the senior member of the House Judiciary Committee infamously said, “I think it is appropriate to comment on the process by which the bill is coming to us. This is not the bill that was reported and deliberated on in the Committee on the Judiciary. It came to us late on the floor. No one has really had an opportunity to look at the bill to see what is in it since we have been out of our offices. …we are now debating at this hour of night, with only two copies of the bill that we are being asked to vote on available to Members on this side of the aisle.”

The Patriot Act is comprised of 10 Titles. Title 1 is labeled “Enhancing Domestic Security against Terrorism” and is comprised of six sections. The first section is defined as “Counterterrorism Fund”. Section one essentially established an unlimited fund within the Department of the Treasury to reimburse the Department of Justice for costs required to provide support to counterterrorism efforts. This fund assists in rebuilding a government office or facility damaged by terrorism, such as the Pentagon...
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