The Congressional Research Service (CRS) stated in an Apr. 18, 2002 report for Congress, "The USA PATRIOT Act: A Sketch," written by Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in the American Law Division:
"Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act in response to the terrorists’ attacks of September 11, 2001. The Act gives federal officials greater authority to track and intercept communications, both for law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering purposes. It vests the Secretary of the Treasury with regulatory powers to combat corruption of U.S. financial institutions for foreign money laundering purposes. It seeks to further close our borders to foreign terrorists and to detain and remove those within our borders. It creates new crimes, new penalties, and new procedural efficiencies for use against domestic and international terrorists. Although it is not without safeguards, critics contend some of its provisions go too far. Although it grants many of the enhancements sought by the Department of Justice, others are concerned that it does not go far enough."
The US Department of Justice explained in its July 2004 "Report from the Field: The USA PATRIOT Act at Work":
"Immediately after the brutal terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, both Congress and the Administration reexamined the legal tools available to investigators and prosecutors in the fight against terrorism... As a result of those efforts, Congress overwhelmingly passed, and on October 26, 2001, the President signed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act ("USA PATRIOT Act" or "Act")...
The USA PATRIOT Act equips federal law enforcement and intelligence officials with the tools they need to mount an effective, coordinated campaign against our nation’s terrorist enemies. The Act revised counterproductive legal restraints that impaired law enforcement’s ability to gather, analyze, and share critical terrorism-related intelligence information. The Act also updated decades-old federal laws to account for the technological breakthroughs seen in recent years... the Act enhanced America’s criminal laws against terrorism, in some cases increasing the penalties for planning and participating in terrorist attacks and aiding terrorists. The Act also clarified that existing laws against terrorism apply to the new types of attacks planned by al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations."
Paul Rosenzweig, JD, Former Senior Legal Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Alane Kochems, JD, Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation, and James Jay Carafano, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, wrote in their Sep. 20, 2004 report "The Patriot Act Reader," published by the Heritage Foundation:
"The Patriot Act has come to symbolize an overstepping of the executive branch’s power. Unfortunately, that image is based largely on misinformation...
The Patriot Act accomplishes three critical goals. First, it gives investigators familiar tools to use against a new threat. Second, it breaks down a wall that has prevented information-sharing between agencies. Third, it updates U.S. laws to respond to the current Internet environment. The Patriot Act is one response allowing the United States to wage war against an enemy that attacked the country in disguise, while remaining true to the country’s founding ethics of freedom, equality, privacy, and human dignity.
The Patriot Act has, in conjunction with other legislation, strengthened civil liberties. It does so through such things as the expansion of judicial authorization, privacy officers to protect against invasions of privacy, mandatory reports to Congress, and Inspector General oversight."
George W. Bush, MA, 43rd President of the United States, in his Mar. 9, 2006 speech given before signing the "USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act," stated:
"The law [USA PATRIOT Act] allows our intelligence and law enforcement officials to continue to share information. It allows them to continue to use tools against terrorists that they used against -- that they use against drug dealers and other criminals. It will improve our nation's security while we safeguard the civil liberties of our people. The legislation strengthens the Justice Department so it can better detect and disrupt terrorist threats. And the bill gives law enforcement new tools to combat threats to our citizens from international terrorists to local drug dealers."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in its Apr. 3, 2003 article "Surveillance Under the USA PATRIOT Act," stated:
"Just six weeks after the September 11 attacks, a panicked Congress passed the 'USA/Patriot Act,' an overnight revision of the nation's surveillance laws that vastly expanded the government's authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in its paper about the USA PATRIOT Act, on the "The USA PATRIOT Act" section of its website (accessed Apr. 10, 2007) stated:
"The USA PATRIOT Act... was quickly developed as anti-terrorism legislation in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The large and complex law received little Congressional oversight and debate, and was signed into law by President Bush Oct. 26, 2001.
PATRIOT gives sweeping search and surveillance to domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies and eliminates checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that those powers were not abused. PATRIOT and follow-up legislation now in development threaten the basic rights of millions of Americans."
Russ Feingold, JD, US Senator (D-WI), in the Oct. 12, 2001 speech titled "On Opposing The U.S. PATRIOT Act" at the Associated Press Managing Editors Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said:
"[G]iven the enormous anxiety and fears generated by the events of September 11th, it would not have been difficult to anticipate some of these reactions, both by our government and some of our people. And, of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists.... But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. That would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America....
The proposed bill [PATRIOT Act] contained vast new powers for law enforcement, some seemingly drafted in haste and others that came from the FBI's wish list that Congress has rejected in the past. You may remember that the Attorney General announced his intention to introduce a bill shortly after the September 11 attacks. He provided the text of the bill the following Wednesday, and urged Congress to enact it by the end of the week. That was plainly impossible, but the pressure to move on this bill quickly, without deliberation and debate, has been relentless ever since…. [I]n my judgment, it did not strike the right balance between empowering law enforcement and protecting constitutional freedoms. …[It] passed in the Senate very late Thursday night, by a vote of 96-1. And I guess you know by now who the 'one' was…
Protecting the safety of the American people is a solemn duty of the Congress; we must work tirelessly to prevent more tragedies like the devastating attacks of September 11th. We must prevent more children from losing their mothers, more wives from losing their husbands, and more firefighters from losing their brave and heroic colleagues. But the Congress will fulfill its duty only when it protects both the American people and the freedoms at the foundation of American society. So let us preserve our heritage of basic rights. Let us practice that liberty. And let us fight to maintain that freedom that we call America."