- Polling Issues
Patriot act

Forty-five days after 9/11 and with little debate, President Bush signed into law the USA Patriot Act of 2001 which authorized the use of wartime procedures to capture and prosecute terrorists. In such haste, many lawmakers admitted they did not even read the bill’s text before voting for its passage. This law reversed many of the restrictions we imposed on our government after it was caught spying on private citizens and political groups in the 1970s. The Patriot Act suspends many of the civil liberties basic to our democracy. It allows the use of military tribunals, racial profiling, and indefinite incarceration without due process or evidence of wrongdoing. It also allows law enforcement agencies, with little oversight, to seize bank telephone and e-mail records for counterterrorism investigations.

Disclosures by former NSA contractor Eric Snowden reveal the NSA has used the Patriot Act to justify the eavesdropping and collection of private communications between many millions of law-abiding Americans. Earlier, a New York federal appeals court judge ruled NSA’s systematic collection of Americans’ phone records is illegal, saying the program "exceeds the scope of what Congress authorized." A Justice Dept. report stated the FBI cannot produce a single example of this surveillance program being responsible for foiling a terrorist plot. The Patriot Act was due to sunset, or expire, in 2005 but has been continuously reauthorized since then.

Patriot Act supporters say we must choose between civil liberties and fighting terrorism, a choice of being either inconvenienced or unsafe. They believe the best way to prevent future NSA abuse is to strengthen congressional oversight over this agency. Opponents say this law puts at risk the personal freedoms and rights embodied in the Constitution which, in the past, we have gone to war to protect. They wish to repeal the Patriot Act saying it is unnecessary because our usual civil procedures are capable of identifying, prosecuting and punishing terrorists. However, even after 22 years in existence and long after the end of our war of terror, the Patriot Act is still with us.

Proposed Legislation: Reintroduction of H.R.1466 - Surveillance State Repeal Act (114th Congress (2015-2016)
Prospective Sponsor: Rep. Mark Pocan (WI)

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Poll Opening Date
March 13, 2023
Poll Closing Date
March 19, 2023

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