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USA Patriot Act

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Congress Speaks

Congress Explains the USA PATRIOT Act

The Patriot Act Protects Both the Nation and Citizens' Rights
Senator Baucus (D-MT) said, "I strongly support this important counter-terrorism bill because it will give law enforcement officials the flexibility and resources to eradicate acts of terrorism. . . . There's a thin line between increasing the powers of the federal government and maintaining Americans' and Montanans' civil liberties. I believe the bill we passed today balances the needs of protecting the country from terrorism and protecting our rights as citizens of this great country." (Senator Baucus, Press Release, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Applies Pre-Existing Tools to the Fight Against Terrorism
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said, "[T]he FBI could get a wiretap to investigate the mafia, but they could not get one to investigate terrorists. To put it bluntly, that was crazy! What's good for the mob should be good for terrorists." (Senator Biden, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Helps Ensure Coordination
Senator Edwards (D-NC) said, "We simply cannot prevail in the battle against terrorism if the right hand of our government has no idea what the left hand is doing." (Senator Edwards, Press Release, October 26, 2001)

The Patriot Act In One Word: Balance
Senator Schumer (D-NY) said, "If there is one key word that underscores this bill, it is 'balance.' . . . The balance between the need to update our laws given the new challenges and the need to maintain our basic freedoms which distinguish us from our enemies is real." (Senator Schumer, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Addresses Coordination, Communication, and Cooperation
Senator Snowe (R-ME) said, "One of the most critical elements of this anti-terrorism package-which also includes expanded authority to hunt down and identify terrorist activity within our own borders-addresses the 'Three C's' that have been lacking among those federal agencies that are integral to preventing terrorism: coordination, communication, and cooperation." (Senator Snowe, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Combats Terrorism Without Losing Constitutional Freedoms
Senator Levin (D-MI) said, "[T]he antiterrorism bill [Patriot Act] which the Senate is about to pass reflects the sentiments the American people have expressed since the events of September 11 -- that we must act swiftly and strongly to defend our country without sacrificing our most cherished values. The Senate antiterrorism legislation meets that test. It responds to these dangerous times by giving law enforcement agencies important new tools to use in combating terrorism without denigrating the principles of due process and fairness embedded in our Constitution." (Senator Levin, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Fills the Gaps in Our Counter-Terrorism Strategy
Senator DeWine (R-OH) said, "It's imperative to provide our law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools to help protect Americans and prevent the types of cowardly acts that were committed against our great nation on September 11th. . . . This package goes a long way to fill the gaps in our national and international counter-terrorism strategy." (Senator DeWine, Press Release, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Is a Common-Sense Update
Senator Fitzgerald (R-IL) said, "Much of the new anti-terrorism law is a common-sense update of existing procedures, adapting investigators' techniques - and the legal hurdles to which they are subject - to the new generation of technology. . . . Another important change made by the new law is the improved access that it provides to key information about terror suspects, especially information discovered in grand-jury proceedings. . . . Finally - and perhaps most importantly - the anti-terrorism legislation recognizes that we cannot hope to stop terror simply by catching terrorists only after they have infiltrated our enormous country. The new law increases immigration officials' power to make sure that terrorists never arrive and settle here in the first place." (Senator Fitzgerald, Op-Ed, "Patriot Act Good Step in Fighting Terrorism," The Pantagraph, November 18, 2001)

The Patriot Act Allows Law Enforcement to Keep Up with Modern Technology
Senator Biden (D-DE) said, "The anti-terrorism bill we consider today is measured and prudent. . . . It takes a number of important steps in waging an effective war on terrorism. It allows law enforcement to keep up with the modern technology these terrorists are using. The bill contains several provisions which are identical or nearly identical to those I previously proposed." (Senator Biden, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Combats Terrorism Without Compromising Civil Liberties
Representative Capito (R-WV) said, "Congress has also passed a comprehensive anti-terrorism bill [the Patriot Act] that protects the safety of all Americans while preserving our cherished freedoms and liberty. This plan provides greater sharing of information by law enforcement, enhances penalties for terrorism, updates wiretapping laws to keep up with changing technologies like cell phones, voicemail and e-mail, strengthens control of border abuse by foreign terrorists-all without compromising the civil liberties woven deep into our American society." (Representative Capito, Weekly Column, Representative Capito Website, October 26, 2001)

The Patriot Act Protects Us Without Sacrificing Our Civil Liberties
Senator Hagel (R-NE) said, "This legislation [the Patriot Act] gives our law enforcement officials the tools they need to help protect the United States. . . . The laws that protect us must be relevant to the dangers that threaten us. We have done this without sacrificing the essential civil liberties to which every American is entitled." (Senator Hagel, Press Release, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Wages War on Terrorists and Protects Constitutional Freedoms
Senator Hatch (R-UT) said, "[T]he President of the United States asked Congress to pass legislation that would provide our law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they needed to wage war on the terrorists in our midst. . . . At the same time, the President asked that, in crafting these tools, we remain vigilant in protecting the constitutional freedoms of all Americans -- certainly of all law-abiding Americans. After several weeks of negotiations . . . we have developed bipartisan consensus legislation that will accomplish both of these goals." (Senator Hatch, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Reflects the Balance of Civil Liberties and Law Enforcement
Senator Daschle (D-SD) said, "This reflects the balance between protection of civil liberties and privacy with the need for greater law enforcement." (Leon Bruneau, "U.S. Senate Passes Anti-Terror Bill, Sends It to Bush for Signature," Agence France-Presse, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Keeps the Balance Between Law Enforcement and Civil Liberties
Senator Biden (D-DE) said, "The agreement reached has satisfied me that these provisions will not upset the balance between strong law enforcement and protection of our valued civil liberties. This bill is not perfect. No one here claims it embodies all the answers to the question of how best to fight terrorism. But I am confident that by updating our surveillance laws, by taking terrorism as seriously as we do organized crime, and by recognizing the important role state and local law enforcement has to play in this campaign, that we are taking a step in the right direction by passing this bill today." (Senator Biden, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Starves Terrorist Financing
Representative Oxley (R-OH) said, "I rise in support of the legislation, particularly the provisions in title III which would represent the most comprehensive anti-money laundering legislation which the House has considered in more than a decade. The legislation gives the administration important new tools with which to wage a global financial war on terrorism, and to starve Osama bin Laden and others like him of the funding needed to commit their acts of evil." (Representative Oxley, Congressional Record, October 23, 2001)

The Patriot Act Provided the Necessary Tools to Fight Terrorism
Senator Feinstein (D-CA) said, "As we look back at that massive, terrible incident on September 11, we try to ascertain whether our Government had the tools necessary to ferret out the intelligence that could have, perhaps, avoided those events. The only answer all of us could come up with, after having briefing after briefing, is we did not have those tools. This bill aims to change that. This bill is a bill whose time has come. This bill is a necessary bill. And I, as a Senator from California, am happy to support it." (Senator Feinstein, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Will Help Us Prevent Another Terrorist Attack
Senator Hatch (R-UT) said, "I personally believe that if these tools [in the Patriot Act] had been in law-and we have been trying to get them there for years-we would have caught those [9/11] terrorists. If these tools could help us now to track down the perpetrators-if they will help us in our continued pursuit of terrorists-then we should not hesitate to enact these measures into law. God willing, the legislation we pass today will enhance our abilities to protect and prevent the American people from ever again being violated as we were on September 11." (Senator Hatch, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Helps Law Enforcement Target Terrorist Financing
Senator Kerry (D-MA) said, "I support the conference report before the Senate today. . . if one is going to cope with an al-Qaida, with a terrorist entity such as Osama bin Laden, who moves his money into this legitimate marketplace, law enforcement has to have the ability to be able to hold people accountable where it is legitimate to do so. . . . With the passage of this legislation, terrorist organizations will not be able to move funds as easily and they will not be able to have their people move within our country with bank accounts that we cannot penetrate, with major sources of funding transferred to them from the Middle East or elsewhere to empower them to be able to do the kind of things they did on September 11." (Senator Kerry, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Is a Bipartisan Compromise
House Speaker Hastert (R-IL) said, "I am most pleased that this bipartisan compromise knocks down current legal barriers that prevent the FBI, CIA and other law enforcement officials from sharing information with one another. . . Our goal must be stopping terrorists . . . rather than wasting time, energy and resources fighting bureaucratic legal hurdles." ("House OKs Anti-Terrorism Bill," Philadelphia Daily News, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Is a Common-Sense Approach to Fighting Terrorism
Representative Pitts (R-PA) said, "The Patriot Act is a common-sense approach to an international emergency. . . . The attacks of September 11, 2001 marked the beginning of a new era in history. We're at war, and we need to give those who are fighting it the tools they need to win." (Representative Pitts, Press Release, October 26, 2001)

The Patriot Act Ensures the Tools to Track and Target Terrorists
Senator Santorum (R-PA) said, "The anti-terrorism bill [the Patriot Act] will better enable our federal law enforcement communities in detaining and apprehending the criminals and groups associated with terrorism and its many forms of destruction. The bill also provides the tools necessary to initiate more aggressive involvement by our local law enforcement communities in the national fight against terrorism. . . . This bill maximizes law enforcement's ability to locate criminals through surveillance and wiretapping provisions and helps intelligence communities to coordinate information sharing on terrorist activity." (Senator Santorum, Press Release, October 26, 2001)

The Patriot Act Provides Fair and Adequate Tools
Senator Schumer (D-NY) said, "[T]he scourge of terrorism is going to be with us for a while. Law enforcement has a lot of catching up to do. There is no question about it. In this bill, at least, we give them fair and adequate tools that do not infringe on our freedoms but, at the same time, allows them to catch up a lot more quickly." (Senator Schumer, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Takes Constitutional Steps
Senator Snowe (R-ME) said, "This Senate legislation [the Patriot Act] is designed to offer the type of strong measures necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks on American soil. . . . With this legislation, we will take reasonable, Constitutional steps to enhance electronic and other forms of surveillance, without trampling on the rights of Americans. We also institute critical measures to increase information sharing by mandating access to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC), by the State Department, and INS." (Senator Snowe, Press Release, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Is Balanced, Comprehensive, and Bipartisan
Representative Oxley (R-OH) said, "[L]et me also thank the administration for working closely with the committee to ensure that the new legal authorities that the executive branch will receive under this legislation are carefully tailored to meet the nature of the threat that our Nation now confronts. The bill that Members will have an opportunity to vote on later tomorrow is balanced, comprehensive, and bipartisan. It sends the strongest signal we can send to the terrorists and to those countries that offer them aid and comfort that the war against terrorism will be fought in the financial theater as aggressively as the war now being waged by our brave men and women in uniform." (Representative Oxley, Congressional Record, October 23, 2001)

The Patriot Act Triples Immigration and Customs Agents
Senator Snowe (R-ME) said, "President Bush signed into law landmark legislation [the Patriot Act] designed to bring the full resources of the federal government to bear in our war on terrorism. This bill includes provisions I fought for to triple the number of immigration and customs agents on our Northern border, and takes steps necessary to meet the terrorist threat here at home." (Senator Snowe, "Anti-Terrorism Legislation Will Provide Greater National Security," Weekly Senate Update, October 26, 2001)

The Patriot Act Is in Accordance with Our Constitutional Rights
Senator Specter (R-PA) said, "[I]t is important that law enforcement have appropriate tools at their disposal to combat terrorists. In the United States that means careful legislation which is in accordance with our constitutional rights and our civil liberties. I believe Congress has responded appropriately in this matter with due deliberation . . . and now have a good product." (Senator Specter, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Cracks Open the Secret World of Hawalas
Senator Bayh (D-IN) said, "This bill [the Patriot Act] gives law enforcement new tools to crack open the secret world of hawalas, and to crack down on those who are engaged in illicit activities. . . . No longer will those who wish to do us harm be able to legally move thousands of dollars in and out of the country without any paper record of the transaction." (Senator Bayh, Press Release, October 25, 2001)

The Patriot Act Makes a Statement About Our Determination to Eliminate Terrorism
Senator Graham (D-FL) said, "[I]t is my hope that today as we pass this antiterrorism legislation and as we will in future days take action on issues of resources to fight antiterrorism and changes in organizational structure, we will be making as significant a national statement about our will and determination to eliminate the scourge of global terrorism as previous generations did about other scourges that afflicted our country." (Senator Graham, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Modifies the Wall Between Foreign Intelligence and Domestic Law Enforcement
Senator Schumer (D-NY) said, "When we are facing a war where it is more likely that more civilians will die than military personnel, the homefront is a warfront. The old high wall between foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement has to be modified. The bill does a good job of that. . . . The other provisions in the bill are good as well." (Senator Schumer, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Provides the Powers to Prevent Terrorist Attacks
Representative Skelton (D-MO) said, "The anti-terrorism bill [Patriot Act] will provide law enforcement officials responsible for protecting American citizens with the intelligence information and the powers they need to prevent terrorists attacks, respond to attacks when necessary, and bring terrorist criminals to justice." (Representative Skelton, Weekly Column, Representative Skelton Website, October 28, 2001)

The Patriot Act Aids in the Collection of Intelligence Information
Representative Lofgren (D-CA) said, "And I frankly think we think the Patriot Act will go a long ways to making sure that our agencies that are collecting intelligence information get that information to the agencies in charge of immigration and consular affairs." (Representative Lofgren, House Judiciary Immigration and Claims Subcommittee Hearing, December 19, 2001)

The Patriot Act Allows the FBI to Focus on Investigations
Senator Edwards (D-NC) said, "When I met with FBI agents in Charlotte shortly after September 11, they told me their number-one priority was to streamline the process for conducting investigations of foreign agents operating in the United States. We've done that. . . . We have made sure the FBI can focus on investigations, not filling out unnecessary paperwork." (Senator Edwards, Press Release, October 26, 2001)

The Patriot Act Advances Our Ability to Deal with Terrorism
Senator Dorgan (D-ND) said, "The legislation [the Patriot Act] that is on the floor is legislation I will vote for and support. I think it advances our country's interests in dealing with the issue of terrorism." (Senator Dorgan, Congressional Record, October 25, 2001)
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The Patriot Act Is a Good Balance
Senator Boxer (D-CA) said, "It's [the Patriot Act] a good balance." (Mark Sandalow, "House Easily Approves Anti-Terrorism Package," The San Francisco Chronicle, October 25, 2001)

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