Patriot Act Pathfinder
The USA Patriot Act is an extensive piece of legislation, passed in 2001, consisting of amendments to many other laws. Its official name is Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. A similar bill, the USA Act was introduced to Congress earlier the same year, but it failed to pass. However, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress was much more receptive to increasing law enforcement capabilities, and passed the Patriot Act with virtually no debate.
Among other things, the law extends law enforcement capabilities in terms of searches and wiretapping, and includes provisions for gag orders. This means that the subject of a search, the media, or anyone else cannot be informed that the search took place. These provisions have been lauded by some and criticized by others. Two of the most vocal opponents to the Act have been the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Library Association (ALA).
This electronic pathfinder provides links to information about the Patriot Act, including the bill itself and related documents, as well as a variety of sources on both sides of the debate.
Legislation and Information about the Patriot Act
View the complete text of the original Patriot Act, as passed in 2001. Also in PDF.
The Patriot Act was recently reauthorized, in March 2006. View the text of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005.
The SAFE Act, or the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003, was introduced to modify the Patriot Act in 2003, in order to safeguard civil liberties. It has not passed.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee of the Judiciary has a site devoted to the Patriot Act, including press releases, reports, legislation, etc.
The Office of the Inspector General is required to report to Congress on the implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act. View the latest report, from March 8, 2006.
The University of Pittsburgh Law School has a webpage devoted to the Patriot Act, including news and related documents.
The Law Library Information Xchange (LLIX) offers a convenient chart describing the law's effect on libraries.
Support for the Act
The White House website has information on new developments regarding the Patriot Act, as well as commentary supporting it.
The Department of Justice has a site devoted to the Act, called Life and Liberty, which portrays it very favorably.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has research and analysis related to the Patriot Act.
Criticism of the Act
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been working diligently to reform the Patriot Act. Their site offers information and ways to become involved.
The American Library Association (ALA) is one of the most vocal critics of the Patriot Act. Their site offers many resources related to the Act, including:
- Resolution calling for amendments to the Act
- News regarding the Act
- FAQ about the Act
- Analyses of the Act
The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers criticism of the Patriot Act.
Books about the Patriot Act
Rethinking the Patriot Act: Keeping America Safe and Free - by Stephen J. Schulhofer (Century Foundation Press, 2005)
The USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001: Balancing Civil Liberties and National Security: A Reference Handbook - by Howard Ball (ABC-Clio, 2004)
How Patriotic Is the Patriot Act?: Freedom Versus Security in the Age of Terrorism - by Amitai Etzioni (Routledge, 2004)
Refuge of a Scoundrel: The Patriot Act in Libraries - by Herbert N. Foerstel (Libraries Unlimited, 2004)
Equal Justice in the Balance: America's Legal Responses to the Emerging Terrorist Threat - by Raneta Lawson and Michael J. Kelly (University of Michigan Press, 2004)
USA Patriot Act: A Legislative History.... [5 volumes] - compiled by Bernard D. Reams and Christopher T. Anglim (Hein, 2002)