Ten years ago today, on Oct. 26, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the odious legislation known as the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, perhaps the single most unconstitutional enactment by the U.S. Congress since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1789.
A panicked Congress, eager to be seen as “doing something,” overwhelmingly passed the law only weeks after the Sept. 11, 2011 terror attacks in New York and Washington.
In an atmosphere of palpable fear, with haste and secrecy, in the name of the “war on terrorism,” Congress adopted the Act without hearings, giving the U.S. executive branch and its police agencies sweeping powers that undermine both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The Act was passed with little debate by senators and congressmen – most of whom did not, and could not, even read the bill. When the vote was taken no final printed copies were available.