The USA PATRIOT Act - The USA PATRIOT Act, commonly known...

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The USA PATRIOT Act , commonly known as the "Patriot" Act, is an Act of Congress that President George W. Bush signed into law on October 26 , 2001 . The acronym stands for: U niting and S trengthening A merica by P roviding A ppropriate T ools R equired to I ntercept and O bstruct T errorism Act of 2001 ( Public Law Pub.L. 107-56 ). The Act expanded the authority of U.S. law enforcement agencies for the stated purpose of fighting terrorism in the United States and abroad. Among its provisions, the Act increased the ability of law enforcement agencies to search telephone and e-mail communications and medical, financial and other records; eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and enhanced the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include " domestic terrorism ," thus enlarging the number of activities to which the Patriot Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied. Although the Act was passed by wide margins in both houses of Congress , it has been criticized from its inception for weakening protections of civil liberties . In particular, opponents of the law have criticized its authorization of indefinite detentions of immigrants; "sneak and peek" searches through which law enforcement officers search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge; the expanded use of " National Security Letters ," which allow the FBI to search telephone, email and financial records without a court order; and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records. Since its passage, several legal challenges have been brought against the act, and Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional. Many of the act's provisions were to sunset beginning December 31 , 2005 , approximately 4 years after its passage. In the months preceding the sunset date, supporters of the act pushed to make its sunsetting provisions permanent, while critics sought to revise various sections to enhance civil liberty protections. In July 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a reauthorization bill with substantial changes to several sections of the act, while the House reauthorization bill kept most of the act's original language. The two bills were then reconciled in a conference committee that was criticized by Senators from both parties for ignoring civil liberty concerns. [1]
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The USA PATRIOT Act - The USA PATRIOT Act, commonly known...

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