USA Patriot Act (Terrorism: Essential Primary Sources) Primary Source eText

Primary Source

Vince Dy right directs his search dog, Rexie, to sniff a passenger's bag at the United Airlines counter in Nashville, Tennessee. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS Vince Dy right directs his search dog, Rexie, to sniff a passenger's bag at the United Airlines counter in Nashville, Tennessee. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS Published by Gale Cengage AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS
President George Bush remarks on the Patriot Act in Buffalo, New York, 2004. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS President George Bush remarks on the Patriot Act in Buffalo, New York, 2004. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS Published by Gale Cengage AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS


By: 107th U.S. Congress

Date: October 26, 2001

Source: USA Patriot Act

About the Author: President George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act, previously passed by the first session of the 107th United States Congress, into law on October 26, 2001.


The United States Congress established the USA PATRIOT Act (Patriot Act) to improve the capabilities of law enforcement agents to prevent terror attacks, and to more effectively investigate and prosecute terrorists and would be terrorists. USA PATRIOT, is an acronym for, "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism."

The United Sates Senate and House of Representatives created the Patriot Act to facilitate the work of investigators, so they would be better equipped to deal with the crimes labeled as terrorism. Because of their unconventional nature, terrorism-related crimes might not have been covered under laws prior to the Patriot Act. The Act is intended to give investigators access to information and use of appropriate technology to monitor the movements of terrorists and to research suspected terrorist organizations, with the goal of stopping terrorist activities before they occur.

Information gathering is one area of focus of the Patriot Act. Previously, there were limitations to the instances when law enforcement could conduct electronic surveillance of terrorist related activities. The Act gives more authority to investigators to carry out surveillance of all terrorism-related activities, including chemical-weapons offenses, the use of weapons of mass destruction, the killing of Americans abroad, and the financing of terrorism.

The Act also helps law enforcement officials more easily obtain subpoenas for access to information records of suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations. The Act facilitates more functional sharing of information between government agencies and prosecutors, to improve efficiency, and eliminate duplicated efforts for solving terrorism-related crimes and prosecuting those involved.

Patriot Act legislation was officially signed by U.S. President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. This was less than two months after the attacks of September 11th, when passenger planes were hijacked and flown into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

Much of the Patriot Act consists of additions, adjustments, and deletions to already existing laws so they can be applied to investigations involving terrorist activity. The Act is organized into ten different titles, with each title containing several sections describing different aspects of terrorism and how terrorism is to be dealt with in the United States.



To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


  1. SHORT TITLEhis Act may be cited as the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001".
  2. TABLE OF CONTENTShe table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title and table of contents.

Sec. 2. Construction; severability.

TITLE Inhancing Domestic Security Against Terrorism

Sec. 101. Counterterrorism fund.

Sec. 102. Sense of Congress condemning discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans.

Sec. 103. Increased funding for the technical support center at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sec. 104. Requests for military assistance to enforce prohibition in certain emergencies.

Sec. 105. Expansion of National Electronic Crime Task Force Initiative.

Sec. 106. Presidential authority.

TITLE IInhanced Surveillance Procedures

Sec. 201. Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism.

Sec. 202. Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses.

Sec. 203. Authority to share criminal investigative information.

Sec. 204. Clarification of intelligence exceptions from limitations on interception and disclosure of wire, oral, and electronic communications.

Sec. 205. Employment of translators by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sec. 206. Roving surveillance authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Sec. 207. Duration of FISA surveillance of non-United States persons who are agents of a foreign power.

Sec. 208. Designation of judges.

Sec. 209. Seizure of voice-mail messages pursuant to warrants.

Sec. 210. Scope of subpoenas for records of electronic communications.

Sec. 211. Clarification of scope.

Sec. 212. Emergency disclosure of electronic communications to protect life and limb.

Sec. 213. Authority for delaying notice of the execution of a warrant.

Sec. 214. Pen register and trap and trace authority under FISA.

Sec. 215. Access to records and other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Sec. 216. Modification of authorities relating to use of pen registers and trap and trace devices.

Sec. 217. Interception of computer trespasser communications.

Sec. 218. Foreign intelligence information.

Sec. 219. Single-jurisdiction search warrants for terrorism.

Sec. 220. Nationwide service of search warrants for electronic evidence.

Sec. 221. Trade sanctions.

Sec. 222. Assistance to law enforcement agencies.

Sec. 223. Civil liability for certain unauthorized disclosures.

Sec. 224. Sunset.

Sec. 225. Immunity for compliance with FISA wiretap.

TITLE IIInternational Money Laundering Abatement And Anti-Terrorist Financing Act Of 2001

Sec. 301. Short title.

Sec. 302. Findings and purposes.

Sec. 303. 4-year congressional review; expedited consideration.

Subtitle Anternational Counter Money Laundering and Related Measures

Sec. 311. Special measures for jurisdictions, financial institutions, or international transactions of primary money laundering concern.

Sec. 312. Special due diligence for correspondent accounts and private banking accounts.

Sec. 313. Prohibition on United States correspondent accounts with foreign shell banks.

Sec. 314. Cooperative efforts to deter money laundering.

Sec. 315. Inclusion of foreign corruption offenses as money laundering crimes.

Sec. 316. Anti-terrorist forfeiture protection.

Sec. 317. Long-arm jurisdiction over foreign money launderers.

Sec. 318. Laundering money through a foreign bank.

Sec. 319. Forfeiture of funds in United States interbank accounts.

Sec. 320. Proceeds of foreign crimes.

Sec. 321. Financial institutions specified in subchapter II of chapter 53 of title 31, United States code.

Sec. 322. Corporation represented by a fugitive.

Sec. 323. Enforcement of foreign judgments.

Sec. 324. Report and recommendation.

Sec. 325. Concentration accounts at financial institutions.

Sec. 326. Verification of identification.

Sec. 327. Consideration of anti-money laundering record.

Sec. 328. International cooperation on identification of originators of wire transfers.

Sec. 329. Criminal penalties.

Sec. 330. International cooperation in investigations of money laundering, financial crimes, and the finances of terrorist groups.

Subtitle Bank Secrecy Act Amendments and Related Improvements

Sec. 351. Amendments relating to reporting of suspicious activities.

Sec. 352. Anti-money laundering programs.

Sec. 353. Penalties for violations of geographic targeting orders and certain recordkeeping requirements, and lengthening effective period of geographic targeting orders.

Sec. 354. Anti-money laundering strategy.

Sec. 355. Authorization to include suspicions of illegal activity in written employment references.

Sec. 356. Reporting of suspicious activities by securities brokers and dealers; investment company study.

Sec. 357. Special report on administration of bank secrecy provisions.

Sec. 358. Bank secrecy provisions and activities of United States intelligence agencies to fight international terrorism.

Sec. 359. Reporting of suspicious activities by underground banking systems.

Sec. 360. Use of authority of United States Executive Directors.

Sec. 361. Financial crimes enforcement network.

Sec. 362. Establishment of highly secure network.

Sec. 363. Increase in civil and criminal penalties for money laundering.

Sec. 364. Uniform protection authority for Federal Reserve facilities.

Sec. 365. Reports relating to coins and currency received in non-financial trade or business.

Sec. 366. Efficient use of currency transaction report system.

Subtitle Currency Crimes and Protection

Sec. 371. Bulk cash smuggling into or out of the United States.

Sec. 372. Forfeiture in currency reporting cases.

Sec. 373. Illegal money transmitting businesses.

Sec. 374. Counterfeiting domestic currency and obligations.

Sec. 375. Counterfeiting foreign currency and obligations.

Sec. 376. Laundering the proceeds of terrorism.

Sec. 377. Extraterritorial jurisdiction.

TITLE IVrotecting the Border

Subtitle Arotecting the Northern Border

Sec. 401. Ensuring adequate personnel on the northern border.

Sec. 402. Northern border personnel.

Sec. 403. Access by the Department of State and the INS to certain identifying information in the criminal history records of visa applicants and applicants for admission to the United States.

Sec. 404. Limited authority to pay overtime.

Sec. 405. Report on the integrated automated fingerprint identification system for ports of entry and overseas consular posts.

Subtitle Bnhanced Immigration Provisions

Sec. 411. Definitions relating to terrorism.

Sec. 412. Mandatory detention of suspected terrorists; habeas corpus; judicial review.

Sec. 413. Multilateral cooperation against terrorists.

Sec. 414. Visa integrity and security.

Sec. 415. Participation of Office of Homeland Security on Entry-Exit Task Force.

Sec. 416. Foreign student monitoring program.

Sec. 417. Machine readable passports.

Sec. 418. Prevention of consulate shopping.

Subtitle Creservation of Immigration Benefits for Victims of Terrorism

Sec. 421. Special immigrant status.

Sec. 422. Extension of filing or reentry deadlines.

Sec. 423. Humanitarian relief for certain surviving spouses and children.

Sec. 424. "Age-out" protection for children.

Sec. 425. Temporary administrative relief.

Sec. 426. Evidence of death, disability, or loss of employment.

Sec. 427. No benefits to terrorists or family members of terrorists.

Sec. 428. Definitions.


Sec. 501. Attorney General's authority to pay rewards to combat terrorism.

Sec. 502. Secretary of State's authority to pay rewards.

Sec. 503. DNA identification of terrorists and other violent offenders.

Sec. 504. Coordination with law enforcement.

Sec. 505. Miscellaneous national security authorities.

Sec. 506. Extension of Secret Service jurisdiction.

Sec. 507. Disclosure of educational records.

Sec. 508. Disclosure of information from NCES surveys.


Subtitle Aid to Families of Public Safety Officers

Sec. 611. Expedited payment for public safety officers involved in the prevention, investigation, rescue, or recovery efforts related to a terrorist attack.

Sec. 612. Technical correction with respect to expedited payments for heroic public safety officers.

Sec. 613. Public safety officers benefit program payment increase.

Sec. 614. Office of Justice programs.

Subtitle Bmendments to the Victims of Crime Act of 1984

Sec. 621. Crime victims fund.

Sec. 622. Crime victim compensation.

Sec. 623. Crime victim assistance.

Sec. 624. Victims of terrorism.


Sec. 711. Expansion of regional information sharing system to facilitate Federal-State-local law enforcement response related to terrorist attacks.


Sec. 801. Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence against mass transportation systems.

Sec. 802. Definition of domestic terrorism.

Sec. 803. Prohibition against harboring terrorists.

Sec. 804. Jurisdiction over crimes committed at U.S. facilities abroad.

Sec. 805. Material support for terrorism.

Sec. 806. Assets of terrorist organizations.

Sec. 807. Technical clarification relating to provision of material support to terrorism.

Sec. 808. Definition of Federal crime of terrorism.

Sec. 809. No statute of limitation for certain terrorism offenses.

Sec. 810. Alternate maximum penalties for terrorism offenses.

Sec. 811. Penalties for terrorist conspiracies.

Sec. 812. Post-release supervision of terrorists.

Sec. 813. Inclusion of acts of terrorism as racketeering activity.

Sec. 814. Deterrence and prevention of cyberterrorism.

Sec. 815. Additional defense to civil actions relating to preserving records in response to Government requests.

Sec. 816. Development and support of cybersecurity forensic capabilities.

Sec. 817. Expansion of the biological weapons statute.


Sec. 901. Responsibilities of Director of Central Intelligence regarding foreign intelligence collected under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Sec. 902. Inclusion of international terrorist activities within scope of foreign intelligence under National Security Act of 1947.

Sec. 903. Sense of Congress on the establishment and maintenance of intelligence relationships to acquire information on terrorists and terrorist organizations.

Sec. 904. Temporary authority to defer submittal to Congress of reports on intelligence and intelligence-related matters.

Sec. 905. Disclosure to Director of Central Intelligence of foreign intelligence-related information with respect to criminal investigations.

Sec. 906. Foreign terrorist asset tracking center.

Sec. 907. National Virtual Translation Center.

Sec. 908. Training of government officials regarding identification and use of foreign intelligence.


Sec. 1001. Review of the department of justice.

Sec. 1002. Sense of congress.

Sec. 1003. Definition of "electronic surveillance."

Sec. 1004. Venue in money laundering cases.

Sec. 1005. First responders assistance act.

Sec. 1006. Inadmissibility of aliens engaged in money laundering.

Sec. 1007. Authorization of funds for DEA police training in south and central Asia.

Sec. 1008. Feasibility study on use of biometric identifier scanning system with access to the FBI integrated automated fingerprint identification system at overseas consular posts and points of entry to the United States.

Sec. 1009. Study of access.

Sec. 1010. Temporary authority to contract with local and State governments for performance of security functions at United States military installations.

Sec. 1011. Crimes against charitable Americans.

Sec. 1012. Limitation on issuance of hazmat licenses.

Sec. 1013. Expressing the sense of the senate concerning the provision of funding for bioterrorism preparedness and response.

Sec. 1014. Grant program for State and local domestic preparedness support.

Sec. 1015. Expansion and reauthorization of the crime identification technology act for antiterrorism grants to States and localities.

Sec. 1016. Critical infrastructures protection.


According to the United States Department of Justice, the Patriot Act has been successful in providing expanded law enforcement powers that improve the federal government's efforts to identify and stop terrorism acts in the U.S. or against U.S. interests abroad. The Department of Justice calls attention to four significant aspects of the Patriot Act that highlight its success.

First, the Department of Justice says the Patriot Act allows terrorism investigators to use tools that have always been available for investigating organized crime and drug trafficking. These tools improve the ability of law enforcement agents to use surveillance measures for cases involving suspected terrorism crimes. Also, investigators are allowed the opportunity to delay notifying a person if a warrant has been executed to find out information about him or her. This is a method of collecting information without a suspect knowing, so the party does not destroy or hide pertinent information just prior to the arrival of investigators. Also, in some cases, investigators can be issued a subpoena for accessing information records more easily through a federal court than by going through a more complicated and timely grand jury hearing.

Secondly, the Department of Justice says the Patriot Act facilitates cooperation among government agencies allowing them to share information about individuals and specific cases. This is designed to allow prosecutors and intelligence officials to share evidence received from grand juries.

Third, the Patriot Act allows authorities to use upto-date technologies to investigate terrorists who use highly sophisticated means of communication, and operate in many different locations. Authorities can monitor the activity of computer hackers on computer networks, as if they were physical trespassers on private property. In some cases, authorities can use a search warrant beyond the boundaries of the district where the search warrant was obtained. This is said to allow investigators to do their work in several districts without having to go through the lengthy process of obtaining multiple warrants where they want to follow specific terrorists.

Finally, the Department of Justice explains that the Patriot Act has increased penalties for those people who are involved in carrying out terrorist crimes. The law also specifically prohibits people from harboring terrorists. It increases the maximum penalties for crimes that would likely be carried out by terrorists, such as arson, destruction of energy facilities, and giving support to terrorist groups. The Act goes on to make penalties for specific types of terrorism, including terrorism on mass transit, bio-terrorism, and for conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts.

Despite the stated success from the U.S. government, there have been numerous critics of the Patriot Act, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU, and other privacy and civil liberties advocates, assert that the Act violates too many individual freedoms and liberties, especially regarding privacy. They argue that the Act makes it too easy for law enforcement officials to collect personal information and monitor organizations and individuals, especially American citizens, under the auspices of terrorism-related investigation.

Critics also claim that the Patriot Act allows excessive monitoring of Americans who may or may not know they are being watched. The Act allows the Government to monitor records of Internet use, utilize roving phone taps, and monitor private records of individual participants of legal, legitimate protests.

It is argued that the Act minimizes the system of checks and balances between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government, by giving too much power to the executive branch. The executive branch has increased authority when search and surveillance powers are given to domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies. Critics say the judicial review and supervision of information gathering is therefore weakened. Critics also point out that the Attorney General has increased power to detain and deport noncitizens with minimized judicial oversight.

Supporters of the act disagree, claiming that authorities do not have free reign to do whatever they want, and that under the Act, the courts must still be included in the surveillance activities of law enforcement. They say the Patriot Act ensures the ease with which law enforcement agencies are able to obtain the mandatory court permissions for carrying out the necessary terrorism-related investigations.

In September 2004, a federal judge ruled that the Act did indeed violate the Constitution, by giving federal authorities unchecked powers to acquire private information.

Another common argument is that the Patriot Act oversteps its stated boundaries of working to eliminate terrorism, as many of the provisions in the ACT apply to all situations, not only those involving terrorist crimes.

Critics, who are found in both the Democratic and Republican political parties, say the Patriot Act is too large and complex, and that it was constructed in a rush shortly after the September 11th attacks in 2001. The goal then was to put legislation into place quickly in order to help ensure the prevention of additional terrorist attacks. Further debate and discussion may have produced a more acceptable set of provisions.

Numerous U.S. communities have debated in town hall and city council meetings as to whether or not the Patriot Act violates civil liberties. Resolutions stating an opposition to the Patriot Act have been passed in 389 communities in forty-three different states according to the ACLU. Of those, seven were statewide resolutions (including Colorado, Montana, and Idaho).

Many of the provisions in the Act expired at the end of 2005. Extension of, changes to, or permanent adoption of measures in the Act, are decided upon by the U.S. Congress, and ultimately must be signed into law by the President.



Julia Preston. "Judge Strikes Down Section of Patriot Act." New York Times. September 30, 2004.

James G. Lakely. "Conservatives, liberals align against Patriot Act." Washington Times. June 14, 2005.

Web sites

Jurist "The USA Patriot Act and the U.S. Department of Justice: Losing Our Balances?" <<a href="">> (accessed July 4, 2005).

American Civil Liberties Union. "USA Patriot Act." <<a href=""> > (accessed July 4, 2005).

United States Department of Justice. "The USA PATRIOT Act: Preserving Life and Liberty." <<a href="">> (accessed July 7, 2005).