The USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) is a 342-page piece of legislation that was passed by Congress shortly after the 9/11 terrorist incident. It has been widely criticized by civil-liberties advocates for its expansion of government powers, at least one of which has been ruled unconstitutional. Parts of the act concerning electronic wiretapping modified the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
Many provisions of the act are due to expire in 2005. However, there is discussion in Congress, led by Senate Republicans, about repealing the sunset clauses on many of the Act's provisions. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has written legislation to enact those repeals, but Senate Democrats have predicted (as of mid-May 2004) that the Republicans do not have the Senate votes to pass that legislation, either separately or as part of other legislation.
A movement against the Patriot Act has taken hold at the grassroots level with more than 330 counties, municipalities and states passing resolution or ordinances of opposition to parts of the act. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has served as a networking hub for these efforts.
- USA Patriot Act - Wikipedia entry
- Our Rights Suspended for 10 More Years by Rep. Ron Paul (July 26, 2005, after sunset provisions had been struck down in the House)
- Judge Strikes Down Part of Patriot Act (Sept. 6, 2007)