Perhaps the most controversial and least understood law in recent memory, the USA PATRIOT Act is a rambling 342-page hodgepodge that amends more than a dozen separate federal statutes, many in ways that dramatically erode the privacy and due process rights of American citizens and our immigrant population. It goes without saying that it defies easy distillation.

This manual explains key provisions of the PATRIOT Act for those who want to understand it better and especially for those who want to use that knowledge to change it. The ACLU is profoundly concerned about the loss of civil liberties since 9/11, having identified it as the highest organizational priority since the passage of the PATRIOT Act in late 2001. The information herein, having been scrupulously researched and documented, is accurate, to be sure. But the manual’s purpose is to persuade-- to persuade the reader to persuade others to contact their congressional representatives, pass anti-PATRIOT Act resolutions in their locality, or simply pass on their outrage to others so that they too might act to restore our lost liberties.