39 Harv. J. on Legis. 435 (2002)
USA Patriot Act

handle is hein.journals/hjl39 and id is 441 raw text is: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
USA PATRIOT ACT
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress
moved with tremendous alacrity to authorize new powers for the federal
government to prevent future terrorism. The most comprehensive new
effort is the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropri-
ate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA Pa-
triot Act) of 2001, signed into law on October 26,' less than six weeks
after the attacks. The legislation grants additional wiretapping and sur-
veillance authority to federal law enforcement, removes barriers between
law enforcement and intelligence agencies, adds financial disclosure and
reporting requirements to combat terrorist funding, and gives greater
authority to the Attorney General to detain and deport aliens suspected of
having terrorist ties.2
The USA Patriot Act's expansion of government authority has made
it a focal point for the ongoing national debate over balancing protection
against terrorism with preserving civil liberties. While there was clear
political support for expanded government power in the wake of Septem-
ber 11,3 as evidenced by the decisive margin by which the bill passed,4 a
vocal coalition of civil libertarians, privacy advocates, and immigrant
organizations have challenged the USA Patriot Act as an overbroad and
unjustified infringement of privacy, association, and due process rights.5
Of particular concern is the speed with which the bill was considered: the
accelerated timetable bypassed both the committee process and floor de-
bate.6 The haste was considered essential, however, by law enforcement
officials seeking to prevent further attacks feared to be imminent.' Attor-
IPub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (2001).
2 Id. See also Bill Summary and Status, H.R. 3162, at http://thomas.loc.gov.
3 See, e.g., Jim Drinkard, Another Attack May Have Been Planned, USA TODAY, Sept.
17, 2001, at Al (describing results of a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll).
4The House vote was 357-66. 147 CONG. REC. H7224 (daily ed. Oct. 24, 2001) (Roll
Call No. 398). The Senate vote was 98-1, with Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) the lone
dissenter. 147 CONG. REc. Sll,059 (daily ed. Oct. 25, 2001) (Roll Call No. 313).
5 See Walter Shapiro, Usual Adversaries Unite Over Threat to Liberties, USA TODAY,
Sept. 26, 2001, at A6. The coalition included groups on the left and right of the political
spectrum, including the unlikely partnership of House Judiciary Committee rivals Repre-
sentatives Maxine Waters (D-Cal.) and Bob Barr (R-Ga.). See id.
6 See Gia Fenoglio, Jumping the Gun on Terrorism?, 33 NAT'L J. 3450 (2001). The ef-
fects of the rush to passage were magnified because many lawmakers and their staffs were
preoccupied with anthrax contamination in congressional offices and therefore had even
less opportunity to consider the legislation fully. See id.
7 See Homeland Defense: Hearing Before the Senate Comm. on the Judiciary, 107th Cong.
(Sept. 25, 2001) [hereinafter Homeland Defense Hearings] (statement of Att'y Gen. John
Ashcroft) (Every day that passes with outdated statutes and the old rules of engagement is
a day that terrorists have a competitive advantage.), available at http://judiciary.senate.
gov/te092501f.htm. Anthrax letters increased fears that waves of attacks were planned. See

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