About USA Patriot Act

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The Patriot Act is a federal law passed in the United States in October 2001 that gives the government and police broad powers to oversee citizens in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks. The law, in particular, expanded the FBI's rights to wiretapping and electronic surveillance, which many considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. It was a very important Act for the USA especially after the terrorist attacks to give Americans a feeling of freedom.

Patriot Act Key Points and Analysis

The U.S. counterterrorism law began to evolve after the well-known terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The new 2001 Federal Patriotic Act significantly expanded the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism, which later led to many surveillance scandals. both for their own citizens and for representatives of foreign countries. Although many of the conflicting anti-terrorism laws are now repealed by congressional decisions, they still have a significant number of rules that allow various government agencies to collect confidential information (“Patriot Act”). The Patriot Act was created as a response to the threat of possible terrorist attacks. While it implied more intense surveillance, the safety of the American citizens was the primary concern.

On October 26, President George W. Bush signed the law, which was extended several times. On March 20, 2007, the US Senate voted 94 to two to deprive the US administration of the unrestricted right to remove and appoint prosecutors granted to the White House by the Patriotic Act of September 2001. US intelligence services monitor Internet and telephone users, providing control by providing them with information from the largest network giants and cellular service providers. In response to the public disclosure of the secret operation PRISM, plans of special services to monitor citizens, US President Barack Obama called criticism of any "speculation" and refused to apologize for the wiretapping, saying it was "worth it." He called on the public to understand that "security and personal information cannot be separated from each other by 100%, everyone should understand this" (“Surveillance Under the Patriot Act”). This raised some reasonable questions and caused some controversy; however, the Act did correspond to its goals as terrorist crimes in the country were detected more swiftly.

In addition to the unprecedentedly wide powers that the special services received in connection with the adoption of this law, the PRISM system was also developed and adopted in 2007, which at the time of adoption was top secret. It allowed mass surveillance of a huge number of people, recording, storing, and filtering their conversations over telephone networks and the Internet. The system came to light after an NSA employee, Edward Snowden, decided to make it public in 2013 (Wadsworth 4). Essentially, the degree to which the Act legitimized the surveillance of American citizens had legal issues. This was not accepted well by society; thus, improvements were required, and, eventually, they were made.

In 2011, Obama extended three key aspects of the program for four years. It involved selective wiretapping, verification of business records, and surveillance of lone terrorists. "The Patriot Act ends tonight," Republican Sen. Rand Paul said after hours of fruitless debate. Voting for the extension of the law was postponed at his request. Paul had previously announced his intention to run in the 2016 US presidential election. The Senate will return to the issue of extending the law in a few days. The termination of the provisions of the Act means that the US intelligence services do not have the authority to eavesdrop on telephone conversations and control other information of citizens of the country (“Patriot Act”). While the Act was officially repealed, its replacement had a similar basis and key points, yet, from the privacy and surveillance standpoint, it was an improvement.

Instead of the Patriot Act, privacy advocates have been promoting the "USA Freedom Act" since 2013. Its name is an acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act." The act corrects many provisions of the laws that allowed the PRISM program to work, it prohibits mass wiretapping and obliges intelligence agencies to obtain warrants to wiretap specific people. In 2015, the Patriot Act was replaced by the United States Freedom Act, which bans the NSA, National Security Agency from eavesdropping on conversations, electronic surveillance, and information about U.S. citizens (“USA Freedom Act: What’s in, what’s out”). The Freedom Act has seemingly found the balance between the safety of the Americans and surveillance of any potential threat.

There is also a system of counter-terrorism actors. The system is headed by the Department of Homeland Security, which includes 22 federal agencies and agencies, as well as the US Transportation Security Administration. The counterterrorism system includes the U.S. National Security Council, the U.S. Homeland Security Council, the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the police, and the U.S. Armed Forces (“Patriot Act”). While this system does not directly relate to the Patriot Act and its further incarnation, it allows the government of the United States to apply proper surveillance without violating any essential rights of the American citizens.


The Patriot Act, or more specifically, the 2001 Act to Unite and Strengthen America by Providing the Appropriate Means Required to Suppress and Obstruct Terrorism, was passed shortly after the infamous terrorist attack, which, according to the official version, resulted in Arab terrorists from " Al-Qaeda, with the help of two hijacked planes, brought down the buildings of the World Trade Center, led a third plane into the Pentagon building, and the fourth plane, where passengers rebelled against the capture, fell into a field.

Works Cited

"USA Freedom Act: What’S In, What’S Out". The Washington Post, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/usa-freedom-act/.

"Patriot Act". HISTORY, 2022, https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/patriot-act.

"Surveillance Under The Patriot Act". American Civil Liberties Union, 2022, https://www.aclu.org/issues/national-security/privacy-and-surveillance/surveillance-under-patriot-act.

Wadsworth, Madison Racquel, "The Patriot Act: How it Hurts Democracy" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 869, https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/honors/869

May 12, 2022
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