Last updated on: 10/5/2007 | Author:

Should the USA PATRIOT Act Have Been Made Law?

PRO (yes)


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.”

Mar. 9, 2006

CON (no)


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.”

Apr. 10, 2007


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.”

Oct. 12, 2001