The US Patriot Act, one of the most controversial laws of our time, consists of ten titles which, among other things: give federal law enforcement and intelligence officers greater authority (at least temporarily) to gather and share evidence particularly with respect to wire and electronic communications; amend federal money laundering laws, particularly those involving overseas financial activities; create new federal crimes, increase the penalties for existing federal crimes, and adjust existing federal criminal procedure, particularly with respect to acts of terrorism; modify immigration law, increasing the ability of federal authorities to prevent foreign terrorists from entering the US, to detain foreign terrorist suspects, to deport foreign terrorists, and to mitigate the adverse immigration consequences for the foreign victims of September 11; and authorise appropriations to enhance the capacity of immigration, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies to more effectively respond to the threats of terrorism. However, the American Library Association (ALA) Council declares that the ALA "considers sections of the USA PATRIOT Act ...a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.
And civil rights activists have decried the government's interpretation of the act with respect to detaining individuals who may be guilty of nothing more than being born in the Middle East. This new reader presents a section by section analysis of the Act and highlights the provisions that are supposed to expire and when.
Alphonse B Ewing, Editor