The Making of the USA PATRIOT Act I: The Legislative Process and Dynamics


ABSTRACT On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked America without warning, killing 2752 in New York City alone. The President declared war on terrorism and pledged to use all resources at United States’ disposal to conquer the enemy. On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT ACT, giving the law enforcement officials expansive powers and security agencies increased resources to fight terrorism, at home and abroad.

A cursory review of the legal literature shows that the USA PATRIOT ACT was “rushed” passed Congress by the Bush administration without following the usual legislative procedure. Throughout the entire legislative process, neither the Congress nor the Administration has systematically investigated and critically debated the merit – necessity and efficacy, costs and benefits, and the impact and implications of the ACT on the Constitution, on the society, on the people. More mystifyingly, neither the general public nor the mass media took the government to task for a want of due diligent in scrutinizing the ACT. How could this have happened? To date, no serious attempt has been made to explain how and why the USA PATRIOT ACT was adopted without any serious context and effective challenge. This is a first attempt to do so.

This article, based on a larger research project (“The Impact and Implications of USA PATRIOT Act on American Society.”) investigated into the legislative history of the USA PATRIOT ACT, broadly define. This article is first of a two part series reporting upon: “The Making of the USA PATRIOT ACT”. It is subtitled: “Legislative Process and Dynamics”. The article to follow is subtitled: “Legislative Climate and Political Context.”

This article examined the Congressional records, tracked the floor debates and monitored newspaper accounts to document the process and detail the dynamics as to how the USA PATRIOT ACT was passed. The subsequent article would be looking into the historical context, political climate, social circumstances, and cultural milieu to ascertain why the USA PATRIOT ACT was made in the way and manner it did.


Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure

Date of this Version

September 2005