The USA Patriot
Act, passed in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
on the United States, is aimed at providing the tools law enforcement
officials need to prevent further terrorist attacks.
almost since its passage, and especially throughout the debate
over the reauthorization of provisions that expired at the end
of 2005, some lawmakers and civil libertarians have contended
the act infringes on the rights of U.S. citizens.
Bush signed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism,
or USA Patriot Act, into law on Oct. 26, 2001, he said the legislation
would "help law enforcement to identify, to dismantle, to
disrupt, and to punish terrorists before they strike."
dealing with terrorists who operate by highly sophisticated methods
and technologies, some of which were not even available when our
existing laws were written," Mr. Bush said. "The bill
before me takes account of the new realities and dangers posed
by modern terrorists."
The act gave
the government broad new legal and investigative authority and
increased power to sanction organizations and individuals who
do not cooperate with investigations. It also provided some legal
protections for those who assist law enforcement in its investigative
May 2002, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled against
the Justice Department's proposed plan for greater information
sharing between intelligence officials and domestic law enforcement.
argued the proposal would eliminate congressionally mandated barriers
between the intelligence community and criminal prosecutors that
could allow prosecutors to "advise FBI intelligence officials
concerning 'the initiation, operation, continuation, or expansion
of [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] searches or surveillance'"
-- a change from previous procedure.
appeals court, however, overturned the ruling in November 2002,
stating that the U.S. government has an expanded authority to
use wiretaps and other surveillance techniques in its efforts
to track suspected terrorists.
court ruling said that expanded powers to wiretap those suspected
in foreign terrorist operations -- including U.S. citizens --
outlined in the Patriot Act do not violate the Constitution.
attached sunset provisions to many of the Patriot Act's most controversial
provisions, requiring Congress to reauthorize them within four
years. In late summer 2005, the House and Senate began to debate
renewing those provisions.
lawmakers saw this as an opportunity to clarify the Patriot Act
and offer more protections for civil liberties.
lawmakers concentrated their efforts on making permanent the provisions
that were set to expire.
Act was reaffirmed March 10, 2006 after nearly nine months of
debate in the House and Senate.
in the act, set to expire on Dec. 31, 2005, were temporarily extended
twice to give lawmakers more time to debate the bill.
delayed the reauthorization, including Hurricane Katrina battering
the Gulf Coast in late August 2005, diverting attention to the
immediate needs of residents there. And then in December 2005,
a New York Times report revealed a program allowing the National
Security Agency to wiretap those suspected of potential terrorist
activities within the United States without warrants from the
wiretapping program galvanized Democrats who opposed the bill
to draw attention to what they considered civil liberties rollbacks
in the legislation.
provisions included one that let federal officials obtain "tangible
items," such as business records, from libraries and bookstores,
in connection with foreign intelligence and international terrorism
clarified that foreign intelligence or counterintelligence officers
should share information obtained as part of a criminal investigation
with counterparts in domestic law enforcement agencies. Yet other
portions were designed to strengthen port security by imposing
strict punishments on crew members who impede or mislead law enforcement
officers trying to board their ships.
version of the bill aimed to include more civil liberties protections,
such as language saying people who receive subpoenas granted under
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for library, medical,
computer and other records can challenge a gag order in court.
Not all senators
were on board, but a filibuster attempt by Sen. Russ Feingold,
D-Wis., the only senator to vote against the original Patriot
Act, failed, clearing the way for the final reauthorization vote.
Bush signed the reauthorization bill mere hours before the temporary
extension would have ended.
Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do,"
he said at the bill-signing ceremony. "It has helped us detect
terror cells, disrupt terrorist plots and save American lives.
The bill I sign today extends these vital provisions. It also
gives our nation new protections and added defenses."
made permanent 14 of the 16 provisions that were scheduled to
expire March 10, 2006.
Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence
committee, lauded new measures that would "[bar] the government
from using National Security Letters to obtain records from libraries
functioning in their traditional roles," and noted that "only
libraries that also function as Internet service providers are
regarding the government authority to conduct "roving wiretaps"
of targets with multiple phones or e-mail devices, and the government's
powers to seize business records with the FISA court's approval
are now set to expire Dec. 31, 2009.
also included new tools designed to help law enforcement stop
the trafficking of methamphetamine, such as tracking the purchase
of over-the-counter ingredients and increasing federal penalties
for smuggling and selling the drug.
the renewed provisions include:
206 to create so-called roving wiretaps, which allow government
agents to tap the devices associated with a suspected terrorist
rather than a single device
holds agencies to a slightly stricter standard with regard to
when roving wiretaps can be used, requires reports to congress
on their use, and sets a sunset expiration of four years.
213 to authorize government agents to obtain "sneak and
peek" warrants that allow them to enter and search a premises
without immediately notifying the owner, provided nothing is removed
reauthorization, officials must notify the person whose premises
is being searched within a reasonable time that is not to exceed
30 days unless a longer time is expressly approved by the court
issuing the warrant.
215 to allow government agents to obtain business records
with permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
requires agents to present the FISA court with new data proving
the how the evidence sought will apply to the relevant investigation
and affords greater protections for library, medical, and educational
It also provides
the party forced to disclose the business information the right
to seek the advice of an attorney and establishes a sunset expiration
of four years.
505 to provide for the use of National Security Letters, a
type of subpoena that forces the party being subpoenaed into a
non-disclosure agreement severely limiting their legal rights
The lack of
judicial review afforded by NSL worried many lawmakers, and the
reauthorization gives a specific right to legal counsel to the
recipients of an NSL, and the right to challenge it in court.
It also states
that libraries cannot be subjected to an NSL, and that the government
must present a report to Congress each year on the use of NSL.
These controls were deemed necessary in November 2005 when The
Washington Post revealed that the FBI was issuing 30,000 National
Security Letters annually.
of the Patriot Act
Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said at the time of the
act's renewal that he had deep reservations about civil liberties
impacts, but he voted for the compromise measure, calling it "an
other moderate Republicans said the passage of the bill was the
first step toward analyzing the Patriot Act and drafting legislation
to replace it. He has suggested revamped measures to:
the use of National Security Letters to subpoena evidence by eliminating
the one-year period before gag orders on NSL could be challenged
more evidence tying a party to foreign terrorists before records
could be obtained from businesses, libraries, hospitals and doctors'
offices, and nonprofits; and
that the target of a "sneak and peek" search warrant
be notified within seven days of its execution.
of the bill follows.
1 Table of contents
-- Amends the USA Patriot Act to require an order granting roving
surveillance authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act of 1978, if the nature and location of each of the facilities
or places at which the surveillance will be directed and the identity
of the target are not known, to include sufficient information
to describe a specific target with particularity.
an order approving electronic surveillance, where the nature and
location are unknown, to direct the applicant to provide notice
to the court (within 10 days after the surveillance begins) of:
(1) the nature and location of each facility; (2) the facts and
circumstances relied upon to justify the belief that the surveillance
target is using such facility; and (3) a statement of any proposed
minimization procedures that differ from those contained in the
original application or order necessitated by a change in the
facility at which the surveillance is directed.
the attorney general to fully inform the House and Senate Judiciary
committees (currently limited to the intelligence committees)
on a semiannual basis concerning electronic surveillance under
FISA, including regarding the number of applications made for
electronic surveillance orders and extensions where the nature
and location of each targeted facility are not known.
-- Makes the authorization of an order for electronic surveillance
or a physical search for up to 90 days applicable only to surveillance
targeted against a foreign power who is not a U.S. person. Limits
to one year an order (or extension) for the use of pen registers
and trap and trace devices where the applicant has certified that
the information likely to be obtained is foreign intelligence
information not concerning a U.S. person.
-- Requires the attorney general, on an annual basis, to submit
to the House and Senate Judiciary committees a report containing:
(1) the number of accounts from which the Department of Justice
has received voluntary disclosures of customer communications
or records under provisions authorizing disclosure of the contents
of electronic communications in emergencies involving immediate
danger of death or serious physical injury; and (2) a summary
of the basis for voluntary disclosures to DOJ where the pertinent
investigation was closed without the filing of criminal charges.
a wire or electronic communications service provider to disclose
customer records to a governmental entity if the provider, in
good faith, believes that an emergency involving danger of death
or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without
delay. (Current law permits disclosure if the provider reasonably
believes that such an emergency justifies disclosure.)
-- Limits the authority to delay notice of the issuance of a search
warrant to circumstances where providing immediate notice of the
warrant may: (1) endanger the life or physical safety of an individual;
(2) result in flight from prosecution, the destruction of or tampering
with evidence, or intimidation of potential witnesses; or (3)
otherwise seriously jeopardize an investigation.
such delayed notification to be issued within seven days (currently,
within a reasonable period) after execution, or on a later date
if the facts of the case justify a longer delay. Permits the period
of delay to be extended by the court for good cause shown, subject
to the condition that extensions only be granted upon an updated
showing of the need for further delay and that each additional
delay be limited to periods of 90 days or less, unless the facts
of the case justify a longer period.
within 30 days after the expiration or denial of a warrant authorizing
delayed notice, the judge to report to the Administrative Office
of the United States Courts:
(1) that a warrant was applied for;
(2) that the warrant or extension was granted, modified, or denied;
(3) the period of delay authorized by the warrant and the duration
of any extensions; and
(4) the offense specified in the warrant or application.
the director of the administrative office, each April, to transmit
to Congress a complete report concerning the number of applications
filed, granted, and denied for warrants and extensions authorizing
(1) an ex parte order for a pen register or trap or trace device
for foreign intelligence purposes to direct that, upon the applicant's
request, the provider disclose specified information to the federal
officer using the device; and
(2) the attorney
general to fully inform the House and Senate Judiciary Committees
regarding uses of such devices.
-- Modifies requirements for access to business records for foreign
intelligence and international terrorism investigations. Requires
that applications include a statement of facts showing that there
are reasonable grounds to believe that items sought:
(1) are relevant
to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a U.S.
person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine
intelligence activities; and
to a foreign power or agent, are relevant to the activities of
a suspected foreign agent, or pertain to an individual in contact
with such an agent.
the judge to enter an ex parte order approving the release of
records or tangible things if the judge finds that the statement
of facts in the application establishes reasonable grounds to
believe that the items sought are relevant and pertinent. Requires
that the order:
the items with sufficient particularity;
a return date which will provide a reasonable period of time for
items to be made available;
clear and conspicuous notice of nondisclosure principles and procedures;
(4) not require
the production of anything that would be protected under the standards
applicable to a subpoena issued in aid of a grand jury investigation.
making an application for an order requiring the production of
library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales
records, book customer lists, firearms sales records, or medical
records containing personally identifiable information without
the prior approval of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
disclosing that the FBI has sought or obtained tangible things
pursuant to an order other than to:
to whom such disclosure is necessary to comply with such order
(currently, to those persons necessary to produce the tangible
(2) an attorney
to obtain legal advice or assistance in responding; and
persons as permitted by the Director. Requires an order to contain
notice of the nondisclosure requirements.
procedures for challenging the legality of an order or any disclosure
prohibition. Requires the development and issuance of procedures
for the review of petitions.
the attorney general's semiannual reports to the House and Senate
Intelligence committees regarding requests for the production
of tangible things to be sent to the judiciary committees also.
Requires the attorney general, each April, to report to Congress
on the number of order applications made, granted, modified, and/or
denied and the number of such applications for orders involving
the production of:
things from a library;
things from a person or entity primarily engaged in the sale,
rental, or delivery of books, journals, magazines, or other similar
forms of communication;
related to the purchase of a firearm;
-- Authorizes a provider who receives a request from the director
of the FBI for subscriber and toll billing records information
or electronic communication transactional records to seek a court
order to modify or set aside the request, with the grounds for
challenging the request stated with particularity. Authorizes
the court to modify or set aside the request if compliance would
be unreasonable or oppressive or would violate any legal right
or privilege of the petitioner.
the provider to challenge the nondisclosure requirement and the
court to modify or set aside such requirement if there is no reason
to believe that disclosure may endanger U.S. national security,
interfere with a criminal, counterterrorism, or counterintelligence
investigation, interfere with diplomatic relations, or endanger
the life or physical safety of any person. Provides that the government's
certification that disclosure would do those things shall be treated
as conclusive unless the court finds that the certification was
made in bad faith. Authorizes the attorney general to seek enforcement
of a request in U.S. district court if a recipient refuses to
restricting the disclosure of information in proceedings consistent
with the requirements of the Classified Information Procedures
Act. Permits disclosure to an attorney to obtain legal advice
or to persons as necessary to comply with the request. Prohibits
any attorney or person notified of the request from disclosing
that the FBI has sought or obtained access to information or records.
-- Terminates on Dec. 31, 2009:
(1) USA Patriot
Act provisions regarding roving wiretaps and business records
(restores amended or modified provisions as in effect on the day
before the effective date of such act); and
(2) a provision
of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004
regarding individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers (continues
any particular foreign intelligence investigation that began before
the date on which that extension ceases).
the sunset of:
of IRTPA redefining "agent of a foreign power" to include
persons who engage in international terrorism; and
modifying the prohibition against providing material support to
-- Authorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts to
establish such rules and procedures and take such actions as are
reasonably necessary to administer their responsibilities under
the attorney general's annual report to the administrative office
and Congress to include the number of emergency employments of
electronic surveillance and subsequent orders approving or denying
such surveillance. Requires similar reporting to the House and
Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees regarding:
(1) the number
of emergency physical searches authorized and subsequent orders
approving or denying such searches; and
(2) the number
of pen registers and trap and trace devices authorized by the
Attorney General on an emergency basis and subsequent orders approving
or denying their installation.
USA Patriot Act was a massive revision of U.S. law regarding intelligence
gathering, the structure of federal agencies, and the way the
government prosecutes suspected terrorists and other criminals.
It also contained
many tools that law enforcement professionals had lobbied for
When the bill
was signed into law, then Attorney General John Ashcroft said
in a statement, "Law enforcement is now empowered with new
tools and resources necessary to disrupt, weaken, and eliminate
the infrastructure of terrorist organizations, to prevent or thwart
terrorist attacks, and to punish the perpetrators of terrorist
acts. ... The American people can be assured law enforcement will
use these new tools to protect our nation while upholding the
sacred liberties expressed in the Constitution."
opposed to the bill, such as the American Civil Liberties Union,
said the Patriot Act went too far in its unfettering of the federal
government, and endangered the civil rights of American citizens
as well as immigrants.
In an October
2001 letter to the House, the ACLU urged lawmakers to vote down
the final version of the bill.
it contains provisions that we support, the American Civil Liberties
Union believes that the USA Patriot Act gives the attorney general
and federal law enforcement unnecessary and permanent new powers
to violate civil liberties that go far beyond the stated goal
of fighting international terrorism," the group said.
of some of the bill's provisions follows.
& INFORMATION GATHERING
Section 103: Funds the FBI's Technical
Support Center, which creates and coordinates many of the government's
electronic surveillance programs. The center will receive $200
million a year for three years (beginning in 2001), a significant
increase in funding.
202: Authority to intercept wire, oral or electronic communications
relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses. Gives the government
broader authority to use wiretaps and traces to go after hackers
who engage in denial of service attacks and Computer Fraud and
Abuse Act violations.
209: Seizure of voice mail messages. Law enforcement officials
can seize voice mail messages with a search warrant. Previous
case law stated that a wiretap order was necessary.
210: Subpoenas for records of electronic communications. Says
that law enforcement officials may subpoena records of electronic
communications, including the method of payment (credit and bank
account numbers) for services and the time and duration of sessions.
211: Clarification on disclosure of information. Clarifies
that cable companies may disclose customer information to law
enforcement officials without first contacting the customer except
in the case of records revealing cable subscriber selection of
video programming from a cable operator.
212: Emergency disclosure of electronic communications to
protect life and limb. Allows Internet service providers to disclose
private customer information, including e-mail messages, if the
provider believes that "death or serious physical injury
to any person" will occur if the information is not disclosed.
213: Delay of notice in the execution of search warrants.
Allows so-called "sneak and peak" searches. Courts can
authorize law enforcement officials to execute a search warrant,
but delay giving notice to the owner of the property or the subject
of the search.
214: Wiretapping authority under FISA. Makes it easier for
law enforcement officials to get authority to use pen register
and trap and trace [wiretap] devices. Previously a line could
be tapped if it had been used for "communications with"
someone involved in terrorism or espionage. The new standard requires
investigators to certify that information obtained will be relevant
to an investigation.
stipulates that people can't be the target of a wiretap based
solely on "First Amendment Activities."
215: Access to records and information under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act. Broadens the reach of FISA to include new sources
of information that would be subject to subpoena. Banks and Internet
service providers will now be subject to FISA. Part of this section
protects companies and people who provide information to government
authorities from lawsuits and requires the attorney general to
report on the use of this authority to Congress twice a year.
216: Changes authority relating to use of wiretaps. Clarifies
that wiretapping authority applies to the Internet. The statute
says that law enforcement officials may monitor the routing of
Internet traffic and the origin and destination of e-mail messages,
for example, but can't delve into the "content" of such
communication. This part of the bill allows federal courts to
issue register and trap and trace (wiretap) orders that are valid
nationwide, not just within a particular court's jurisdiction.
This section also requires law enforcement to file a report with
the FISA court whenever it uses a "Carnivore" device,
or a device that quickly, independently and automatically searches
for information on a network. Officials will have to provide the
details of the use of such technology, the dates when it was used
and why it was employed.
217: Interception of computer trespassers. This section gives
legal liability to government officials who intercept the communications
of computer "trespassers," such as hackers, at the request
of the owner of a computer or network. ISPs can request that the
government monitor "trespassers," but aren't required
to submit to requests for access by government officials without
225: Immunity for compliance with FISA court orders. This
section provides immunity from lawsuits for people and organizations
that provide information or assistance to law enforcement officials
based on a FISA court order. Internet Service Providers, for example,
couldn't be sued for the release of subscriber information if
the ISP was responding to a court order. This protection was not
available under previous law.
FINANCE, & IMMIGRATION
Section 326: Identifying new account holders. Says the
secretary of the treasury must issue rules and standards to require
financial institutions to properly identify new account holders.
351: Bank Secrecy Act amendments and other changes
-- Increases government access to information from banks if that
information may be related to terrorist activities. Provides lawsuit
liability to bank officers and employees who report suspicious
-- This section
also amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to allow credit reporting
agencies to provide reports to law enforcement officials.
-- It also
requires financial institutions to adopt measures designed to
stop money laundering.
of the treasury can impose sanctions on companies that do not
comply or refuse to give information to the government. The section
also says U.S. banks can't do business with overseas "shell
banks" -- those that have no physical facilities and are
unregulated. It requires banks to provide information on their
overseas business to the secretary of the treasury.
356: Reporting suspicious financial activity. Requires securities
brokers and dealers, as well as commodity traders, to report suspicious
financial activity to the secretary of the treasury.
806: Forfeiture of assets. Says all assets of terrorist organizations
may be seized.
Section 402: Provides funding aimed at tripling
the number of Border Patrol, Customs agents, and Immigration and
Naturalization officials at facilities along the U.S. border.
403: Requires the attorney general and FBI to provide the
State Department with information on the criminal histories of
411: Broadens the definition of terrorist activity for which
an immigrant can be denied entry to the United States or deported.
Stipulates that the endorsements of terrorist organizations or
acts in speech are sufficient for denial of entry or deportation.
412: Says the government may detain an immigrant for up to
seven days without a hearing if the attorney general certifies
that the immigrant is a suspected terrorist or a threat to national
security. The attorney general can order an immigrant who has
been charged with a violation held for up to six months if the
release of the immigrant would threaten national security.
& LEGAL PROVISIONS
Section 218: Foreign intelligence information
requirement for FISA authority. This section changes the FISA
requirement for surveillance. Now investigators need only to certify
that "a significant purpose" of the surveillance or
search under to obtain foreign intelligence information. Previously
they had to certify that gathering such information was "the
purpose" of the surveillance.
219: Single-jurisdiction search warrants for terrorism. Says
federal judges may issue search warrants in any jurisdiction where
activities related to terrorism may have occurred for a search
of property or for a person within or outside the court's district.
220: Nationwide service of search warrants for electronic
evidence. Allows a single court having jurisdiction over an offense
to issue a nationwide search warrant for electronic information.
The warrant is valid anywhere, but the court issuing the warrant
must have jurisdiction over the offense under investigation.
223: Civil liability for unauthorized disclosure of information.
Allows court action against government agents who violate prohibitions
on the unauthorized release of information that the government
obtains through surveillance, and increases the ability of the
government to discipline employees who commit the violations.
224: Sunsetting. This section sunsets, or provides a four-year
expiration date for, the surveillance and intelligence- gathering
provisions (Title I and Title II) of the bill except for list
of exceptions below:
203(a) broadening the authority to share grand jury information
203(c) establishment of procedures regarding the sharing of
criminal investigative information.
205 expedition of employment of translators to support counterterrorism.
208 designation of FISA judges
210 broadening the scope of subpoenas for electronic communications
service providers by requiring disclosure of the means and source
of payment, including bank account or credit card numbers
211 treating cable companies that provide Internet services
the same as other ISPs and telecommunications companies for such
213 broadening the authority to delay notification of search
warrants in criminal investigations if prior notice would have
an adverse effect.
216 extending trap and trace to Internet traffic so long as
219 single-jurisdiction search warrants for terrorism
221 trade sanction amendments
222 no imposition of technical obligations on provider of
a wire or electronic communication service, landlord, custodian,
or other person who furnishes facilities or technical assistance
802: New crime of domestic terrorism. Defines domestic terrorism
as activities that occur primarily within the United States that
involve criminal acts that are dangerous to human life and appear
to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or
government or to affect government conduct by mass destruction,
assassination, or kidnapping.
803: Harboring terrorists. Makes it a crime to harbor a person
while knowing or having reason to believe the person has committed
or is about to commit an act of terrorism.
809: Removal of statute of limitations. Removes the statute
of limitations for the prosecution of federal terrorism crimes
if the crimes resulted in death or bodily injury.
104: Help from the U.S. military. Allows the attorney general
to ask for assistance from the Department of Defense in the event
of an emergency involving a weapon of mass destruction.
203: Authority to share information. Says information from
grand jury investigations and wiretaps can be shared with more
government officials. The information can be shared with any federal
law enforcement, protective, intelligence, immigration, and national
defense or security personnel, who can use the information in
their official duties. In the case of grand jury information,
it would require notification to the court after disclosure.
507: Education records. Allows the attorney general to request
a court order for disclosure of education records needed for a
814: Deterrence and prevention of cyber-terrorism. Increases
criminal penalties for Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations
and adds computers located outside the United States to the definition
of "protected computers" covered by the statute.