14 Years of the Patriot Act | Sojourners

14 Years of the Patriot Act

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Today (Oct. 26) marks the fourteenth anniversary of the passage of the Patriot Act, an initiative designed to strengthen the U.S. government’s ability to monitor and deter potential terrorist threats.

Though key provisions of the Patriot Act expired earlier this year, many of them were restored by the Senate via passage of the USA Freedom Act, and will be effective through 2019. At the same time, the Senate also voted overwhelmingly to end the NSA’s unmonitored mass surveillance and data collection of phone and email records, formerly justified under the language of the Patriot Act.

This mass surveillance was uncovered by Edward Snowden in June 2013. Snowden remains in exile in Moscow, wanted on federal espionage charges.

The Patriot Act, which was one of the domestic legislative components of President Bush’s “War on Terror,” was dogged by controversy long before Snowden’s revelations.

While the Patriot Act may now be known as the USA Freedom Act, and President Obama no longer refers to the “War on Terror,” under his presidency many of the tactics of the Bush Administration have continued, and even increased, such as drone strikes overseas.