The USA Patriot Act and the Politics of Fear

Mark S. Hamm, Indiana State University

The USA Patriot Act was enacted by Congress against the backdrop of two monumental events: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the cutaneous anthrax outbreak that occurred a month later. Although the Act's long-term objective was to curb the fears of the 9/11 and anthrax attacks, it would actually reproduce those fears in its own execution. This paper explores the lived politics of that fear. It discusses controversies surrounding the Act's implementation, public resistance against the Act, and governmental responses to the resistance. Finally, I discuss the implications of conducting terrorism research in a time of war.

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Updated 05/20/2006