The following is an excerpt fromThe War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights by lawyer, activist, andCity Pages contributor Elaine Cassel. The excerpt gives a break-down of specific actions made legal under the Patriot Act.
What the USA Patriot Act Does (1)
The USA Patriot Act gives law enforcement officials broader authority to conduct electronic surveillance and wiretaps and gives the president the authority, when the nation is under actual attack by a foreign entity, to confiscate any property within U.S. jurisdiction of anyone believed to be engaging in such attacks. The measure also tightens oversight of financial activities to prevent money laundering and to diminish bank secrecy, all in an effort to disrupt terrorist finances. The act, almost 400 pages in length, amends dozens of existing laws. It also stretches the Bill of Rights in several respects. It particularly allows incursions into rights protected by the first and fourth amendments (2). Some of the more controversial civil rights incursions had been on the executive branch's "wish list" for many years (3). September 11 provided just the impetus needed to change some rules of criminal procedure for all crimes--not just crimes of terror. Some of the more drastic incursions on civil liberties resulting from the Patriot Act are: