How The Sunshine Laws Have Changes Since 9/11


After September 11, 2001, the government took steps to ensure that something like this would not happen again. This included the inception of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001. It was passed on October 26, 2001 and gave federal investigators "sweeping new powers to probe terrorism." The act decreased the access to public records. It stated that the government would support any “sound legal basis” for withholding information. This act is very controversial. Because it was passed when the nation was still reeling from the devastation of 9/11, it was passed without any debate or hearings and under a cloak of fear.

There was also a Patriot Act II. This bill was kept a secret through much of its inception. There were rumors about it circling the Capitol. The bill’s official name is the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. It was drafted by the Justice Department to significantly expand on the already existing Patriot Act. It gave the government new powers to "increase domestic intelligence gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives," as well as decreasing judicial review and public access to information.

These laws have decreased the availability of public records. This has been done in the name of national security. Most of the public does not recognize these laws and what they mean. There are many who are willing to sacrifice these rights if it means that the United States will be more secure and that they will not see another 9/11. There are others, however, that do not think this is a good reason to infringe on their rights. Some think that the Patriot Act is something that had been in the works long before the attacks on the world trade center.