The USA Patriot Act of 2001
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The terrorist attacks of September 11th sent the nation and its leaders into a shock the degree of which had not been felt since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and plunged the United States into World War II. During the initial days following the attack, American’s and their leaders were angry, grief-stricken, and struggling to comprehend the fact that such an attack had taken place on their home soil. Before most American’s were able to shrug off the initial shock, Congress and President Bush were already putting in place new laws that would help protect American’s from future attacks. By the end of October, the USA Patriot Act was signed into law. This Act, which stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, significantly broadened [and changed] immigration laws, expanded the legal use of electronic surveillance, and tightened controls on money laundering.
The USA Patriot Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001, amid protests from several organizations, including many civil liberties organizations. Spurred on by President Bush and the continued warnings that more attacks were to come, the House approved the Act by a vote of 356 to 66 and the Senate approved the Act by a vote of 98 to 1.
The USA Patriot Act differs from other legislation in several key ways. First, it was passed in record time. Second, although the Act consists of approximately 342 pages, it was passed without a conference or committee report, and with practically no public hearings or debates.
U.S. concerns about terrorism and Osama bin Laden goes back many years. In 1990 and 1991, the U.S. led an international coalition to free Kuwait from Iraq. Known as the Gulf War, this coalition fought back dictator Saddam Hussein and his troops and restored Kuwaiti leadership in the area. After the War, the U.S. kept military forces and bases in the area, a decision that outraged Osama bin Laden who claimed the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia defiled the regions holy cities. Osama bin Laden tightened ranks with Hussein, blaming the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s on U.S. sanctions implemented against Iraq in an attempt to convince Hussein to implement ceasefire agreements.
On February 26 1993, a terrorist team planted a van bomb in the World Trade Center. The explosion in the underground garage of the North tower killed six people and injured over a thousand. Although six Islamic extremists were arrested and convicted of the crime in 1997, the U.S. firmly believed that the plot was orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, although at the time they were unable to prove it. In the year following the World Trade Center bombing, Osama bin Laden’s Saudi Arabian citizenship was revoked and he fled to Sudan.