History and Inception of the USA PATRIOT Act Archives
History and Inception of the USA PATRIOT Act

The USA PATRIOT Act [text] was passed by the Senate 98-1 and 357-66 by the House, and signed into law by President George W. Bush [official biography] on October 26, 2001. This act was in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks [JURIST backgrounder] and was introduced to Congress in an effort to combat terrorist activity [JURIST report].

In the wake of 9/11, President Bush declared [speech, text] a War on Terror. Soon after this declaration, a series of anti-terrorism bills became a large part of this effort and were being introduced into Congress. The goal of the new legislation was to provide better tools and increased power to law enforcement in order to better investigate and prevent future terrorist attacks. The draft of the USA PATRIOT Act was entitled “the Anti Terrorism Act” of 2001. It was drafted by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch [official biography] and Arlen Specter [official biography], along with Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy [official biography]. This draft bill evolved into the USA Act/PATRIOT Act which then became the foundation for the now known USA PATRIOT Act.

The original legislation contained 10 titles authorizing the government to conduct a wide range of activities aimed at preventing future terror attacks. In May 2011, Congress extended the Act for another four years [JURIST Report]. Since its inception, the PATRIOT Act has led to significant controversy over the balance of civil liberties and national security [JURIST backgrounder].