Patriot Act

Written By Michael Reign on Saturday, September 21, 2013 | 2:04 AM

The USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001), commonly known as the “Patriot Act,” is the controversial Act of Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. The Act expanded the authority of U.S. Law enforcement agencies for the stated purpose of combating terrorism on the domestic level and also abroad. Among its numerous provisions, the Act greatly enhanced the ability of law enforcement organizations to monitor the telephone conversation exchanges, e-mail communications, medical purchase records, and financial assets pertaining to the citizenry of each of its respective districts. This measure also eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the borders of the United States, expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate the financial transactions of undocumented residents and nondescript entities, and enhanced the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting those suspected of terrorism-related activities. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include “domestic terrorism,” thus dramatically increasing the number of activities to which the new policy’s heightened jurisdictional authority can be applied. Since the inception of this Act, the measure itself has met harsh criticism due to the fact that its passage has eroded the civil liberties of the populace on many fronts. Opponents of the law have denounced practices endemic to its formal proclamation, namely the following: the indefinite detention of immigrants, searches through which government and law enforcement affiliated officials are able to confiscate and repossess property or assets applicable to the owners of small businesses and homes otherwise deemed by those agencies as possessing a certain degree of affiliation with organized crime or anti-government assemblies, the expanded use of National Security Letters (A mandated order orchestrated and implemented by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and other high-level intergovernmental organizations including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense to forcibly extract the records and data of all citizens residing within the continental United States as well as its outlying principalities based on the pretext of national security, often without probable cause or judicial oversight. The letter in question also contains a gag order which prevents the recipient of the prior stated directive from disclosing the contents of the aforementioned document or its issuance under penalty of law) granting government agencies an unprecedented level of access to a multitudinous array of telephone, e-mail, and financial registries without formal judicial authorization.

In July of 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a reauthorization bill with substantial modifications to several sections of the Act, while the House Legislature preserved most of the documents original precepts. The two bills were then reconciled in the presence of a conference committee that was ostracized by Senators from both respective political assemblies for ignoring the presence of numerous stipulations within the mandate that allowed for a further erosion of the general public’s civil liberties. Despite the protestations of many who opposed the enactment of the aforementioned directive, the provision was nonetheless signed into law by President George W. Bush on March 9, 2006.
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