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Two years after the Act became law, local governments in Ann Arbor, Oklahoma City, New York, and Philadelphia passed resolutions against it. Members of the U. In light of the continuing threat of terrorism in the United States, it is worth exploring the reasons why anti-terrorism laws like the USA PATRIOT Act can prove difficult to scale back.The list of causes below is not meant to be exhaustive, but to show how a constellation of variables can help to cement anti-terrorism laws in place.A public outcry ensued, with some loudly opposing the NSA’s surveillance programs and others forcefully defending them.The New York Times condemned the NSA surveillance in an editorial and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the NSA, challenging the constitutionality of the NSA telephone call metadata collection program.An initial draft of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001 developed within a week of the September 11terrorist attacks. At approximately the same time, government officials’ and popular media outlets’ offices nationwide received anonymous letters containing weapons-grade anthrax. Bush signed the Act, it increased law enforcement powers within the United States, began to break down historical barriers against information sharing between police and intelligence agencies, and expanded the definition of terrorism in 18 USC § 2331. Moreover, the Act assigned lead investigative authority in terrorism cases to the U. Putting aside section 215 of the Act, which relates directly to the NSA’s collection of telephone call metadata from Verizon, another contentious area is the Act’s permitting searches of personal library records and other organizational files via issuance of National Security Letters (NSLs).
Sensenbrenner stated that particular provision of the Act requires government lawyers to prove to the FISC that a request for specific business records is linked to an “authorized investigation” and further stated that “targeting US citizens is prohibited” as part of the request.Posner and Vermeule call ratchet effect explanations “methodologically suspect.” They note that accounts of the ratchet effect often ring hollow, for they “fail to supply an explanation of such a process…and if there is such a mechanism [to cause the ratchet effect], it is not clear that the resulting ratchet process is bad.” I argue that the recent controversy surrounding the NSA’s intelligence collection efforts underscores the relevance of the ratchet effect to scholarly discussions of anti-terrorism laws.I do not seek to prove or disprove that the recent NSA surveillance controversy illustrates the ratchet effect at work, nor do I debate the potential strength or weakness of the ratchet effect as an explanation for the staying power or growth of anti-terrorism laws.Senator Lindsay Graham said “I am a Verizon customer…it doesn’t bother me one bit for the NSA to have my phone number.” Max Boot, a senior fellow with the think tank Council on Foreign Relations, credited the NSA surveillance with helping to reduce the number of terrorist incidents on US soil since the attacks of September 11, 2001.A Pew Research Center poll suggested that there was significant support among the American public for the NSA’s surveillance efforts.