While Continuing Voice in Patriot Act Debate, PRCB Fights Administration's Warrantless Domestic Spying Program

Although the USA Patriot Act has passed through Congress and been signed into law by President Bush, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB) continues to fight for Americans' freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution. We will take on any issue that similarly infringes on Americans' rights, including an issue of grave importance today ' unlawful federal government spying on Americans.

>> Click here to read more about PRCB's call for the government to investigate warrantless domestic spying.

>> Click here to see the full text of the USA Patriot Act.

Chronology of the USA Patriot Act

The USA Patriot Act was enacted 45 days after 9/11, expanding the government's ability to gather information on Americans. At that time, Congress voted overwhelmingly and purposefully to have certain provisions expire by the end of 2005 in order to give Congress a second chance to assess their impact on the traditional checks and balances on government powers that protect basic American freedoms.

The law was reauthorized and signed into law on March 6, 2006. PRCB made advances in restoring checks and balances in the final authorized legislation, but much more work needs to be done.

October 24, 2001 ' Less than six weeks after the 9/11 attacks and shortly after the anthrax letters to congressional offices, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the final USA Patriot Act (H.R. 3162).

October 25, 2001 ' With little debate, the Senate passes the bill. Congress purposefully includes sunsets on the most contentious parts of the law, which require Congress to take a sober second look at the provisions before the end of 2005.

October 26, 2001 ' President Bush signs the Patriot Act. The final bill ' which becomes Public Law No. 107-56 ' replaces a compromise measure agreed to unanimously by the notoriously partisan House Judiciary Committee not three weeks before. The bill, as passed, closely resembles the expansive authority initially requested by the Administration in the days after 9/11.

March 18, 2002 ' Denver, Colorado becomes the first major metropolitan area to pass a resolution critical of the Patriot Act. It affirms Denver's support for the war on terror and the city's commitment to the Constitution.1

February 7, 2003 ' Legislation drafted by the Justice Department as a sequel to the USA Patriot Act is leaked. The proposed legislation would grant federal law enforcement sweeping new powers to wiretap, detain and punish suspects while limiting court review and cloaking certain information from the public.

April 14, 2003 ' Various organizations from across the political spectrum join forces in a loose-knit coalition to oppose any effort by the Administration to expand the government's powers through a sequel to the Patriot Act, now dubbed 'Son of Patriot' or 'Patriot II.'

April 27, 2003 ' An editorial in the Orlando Sentinel (Florida) states that the Bush Administration's call for eliminating the sunset clause the make the Patriot Act permanent, is 'not only bad faith; it's bad policy.'2

July 22, 2003 ' The House of Representatives votes overwhelmingly to support an amendment offered by Rep. 'Butch' Otter (R-ID) prohibiting implementation of section 213 of the Patriot Act, which permits federal agents to search your home and confiscate property without notifying you that a search is happening. The provision is stripped from the final legislation by a conference committee.

August 21, 2003 ' An editorial in the Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colorado), urges Congress to give the Patriot Act the kind of 'close scrutiny and skeptical inquiry that were absent in those panicked days following Sept. 11' when the Act was passed.2

October 2, 2003 ' Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduce the bipartisan Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act that would preserve the added authority in the Patriot Act, but would surgically add more court review and other checks against abuse.

October 20, 2003 ' Durham, NC, becomes the 200th city to pass a resolution in support of civil liberties and Patriot Act reform.

October 20, 2003 ' An editorial in the Orange County Register (California), expresses support for the bipartisan SAFE Act.

November 18, 2003 ' Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that he 'strongly believe(s) Congress must act now to rein in the Patriot Act, limit its use to national security concerns and prevent it from developing 'mission creep' into areas outside of national security.'2

January 24, 2004 ' Attorney General John Ashcroft sends an extraordinary letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) saying he will advise President Bush to veto the bipartisan SAFE Act, should it pass.

February 4, 2004 ' The New York City Council, sitting just a few blocks uptown from Ground Zero, passes a resolution calling for Patriot Act reform and a restoration of checks and balances.1

March 23, 2004 ' The state of Maine joins Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont as the fourth to pass a statewide resolution in support of Patriot Act reform and civil liberties.1

April 25, 2004 ' While acknowledging that the core of the Patriot Act is vital to fighting terrorism, an editorial in the Rocky Mountain News urges Congress to 'temper the ability of law-enforcement agents to carry out searches without informing a property owner that a warrant has been issued.'2

July 8, 2004 ' The House ' on a tie vote -- fails to amend part of the Patriot Act that allows the government to learn the books people buy or borrow.

July 16, 2004 ' Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduces a bill (Tools to Fight Terrorism Act), which bears a remarkable resemblance to the 'Son of Patriot' legislation leaked from the Justice Department in February 2003. In response to overwhelming public opposition from across the political spectrum, the Senate does not consider the legislation.

July 30, 2004 ' The well-publicized report of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission states that 'a full and informed debate on the PATRIOT Act would be healthy.' The Commission also specifically recommends that 'The burden of proof of retaining a particular government power should be on the executive, to explain (1) that the power actually materially enhances security and (b) that there is adequate supervision of the executive's use of the powers to ensure protection of civil liberties . . . to properly confine its use.'

September 22, 2004 ' Bob Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the 'post-9/11 debate over civil liberties is the most important issue faced by America in a generation.' Noting that he voted for the Patriot Act because he believed the Administration would respect Congress' inclusion of sunsets, he now urges the Senate to rein in the Patriot Act by passing the SAFE Act since it is clear the Administration is vigorously campaigning to have the sunset provisions made permanent.

September 29, 2004 ' A federal judge in New York rules that the section of the Patriot Act expanding the FBI's ability to demand information from Internet services providers without judicial oversight or public review is unconstitutional.

October 4, 2004 ' The In Defense of Freedom Coalition sends a letter to Congress outlining issues that should be considered as legislation is drafted based on the 9/11 Commission recommendations. The letter warns that there may be unintended negative consequences for privacy and civil liberties if precautions are not taken.

December 17, 2004 ' Bush signs a bill prompted by the 9/11 Commission's report, which includes law enforcement provisions augmenting the Patriot Act even though they were never called for by the 9/11 Commission. One provision gives the FBI unchecked power to demand disclosure of financial records and other information, without the approval of an independent judge and without proof of a connection between the individual and a terrorist group.

February 14, 2005 ' At a swearing-in ceremony for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, President Bush asks Congress to immediately make the entire Patriot Act permanent.

March 22, 2005 ' Leading conservative organizations, led by former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, launch a new alliance -- Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances ' to urge Congress to review those provisions of the Patriot Act that are up for renewal in 2005 to bring them in-line with the Constitution. Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances sends a letter to President Bush urging him to reconsider his blanket support for making the Patriot Act permanent.

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