After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Congress acted quickly to pass the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, better known as the USA Patriot Act. It was signed by President Bush on October 26, 2001.
The Act expanded the investigative authority of federal officials, including their ability to track and intercept communications, in addition to other enhanced powers to combat domestic and international terrorism. The Act has been very controversial because of its impact on civil liberties.
Effective midnight May 31, certain provisions of the act expired, including § 215 which had been used by the National Security Agency as authority to collect of millions of telephone records. Prior to this sun-setting, the House had passed H.R. 2048: the USA Freedom Act of 2015. Today, the Senate passed this bill and it was signed by President Obama. His signing statement is available on the White House Website. Track the law’s history on Congress.gov.
To learn more about the Patriot Act, please consult the law library’s National Security Research Guide. Resources available in the library include a five volume compiled legislative history of the Act. To discover more about the controversy surrounding this law, GMUSL patrons may wish to search these databases, in additional to traditional news sources: