George W. Bush


What federal law did Congress pass and President Bush sign shortly after the September 11 attacks?

In October 2001, Congress passed a law known as Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, better known by its acronym the PATRIOT Act. President Bush signed the measure into law on October 26, 2001. The law served as a lightning rod for controversy and for the debate over what is the proper balance between national security and civil liberties. Supporters contend that the Patriot Act was necessary to protect the country from future terrorist attacks to help prevent another 9/11 attack. Critics charged that the Patriot Act violated constitutional rights and gave government too much power.

Part of the problem when discussing the Patriot Act is confusion over the vast number of provisions in the law. It consisted of more than three hundred pages and amended more than fifteen different federal laws. The law approved of roving wiretaps, sneak-and-peak warrants, and national security letters, and it sought to bridge the gap between foreign and domestic intelligence in the U.S.

Some provisions of the law arguably were necessary to bring surveillance laws up to speed in the newer technological age. Other provisions seemed to unnecessarily encroach upon the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

President Bush adamantly believed that the Patriot Act was necessary to fight the War on Terror and to prevent future terrorist attacks on American soil. Supporters contend that the act helped American law enforcement to break up terror cells and to prevent another 9/11 for the rest of the Bush presidency.


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