How the Patriot Act Works

Titles III-X of the Patriot Act

Organization Chart of the FBI National Security Service
Organization Chart of the FBI National Security Service
Photo courtesy of the FBI

Title III - This section of the Patriot Act is aimed at cutting off the financial support of terrorist groups. It has provisions requiring banks to take steps to prevent money laundering, allows law-enforcement agencies to gather information from banks and creates longer prison terms for money laundering and smuggling.

Title IV - This section has provisions intended to strengthen border security. It authorizes increased funding for border patrols, customs officials and immigration officials. Foreigners with ties to terrorist organizations are banned from entering the United States, and the monitoring of foreign students is expanded by Title IV.

Title V - The most important part of Title V is the use of National Security Letters (NSL). An NSL is a demand for the release of information and paperwork related to a person under investigation. The Patriot Act makes NSLs much stronger, allows them to be used against U.S. citizens and contains a gag order preventing the target of the NSL from ever knowing about it or telling anyone else about it. There is no judicial review or need for probable cause when an NSL is requested and issued.

Title VI - This section contains provisions for providing financial compensation to victims of terrorism and their families.

Title VII - Authorization and budgeting for increased sharing of information between law-enforcement agencies and jurisdictions are contained in this section.

Title VIII - This portion of the Patriot Act adds several crimes to the list of things considered acts of terrorism, including attacking a mass transit system, using a biological weapon, supporting terrorism and computer hacking. The penalties for terrorist crimes are also increased.

Title IX - This section creates a method for the sharing of national intelligence information between government agencies.

Title X - The final section of the Patriot Act contains a number of relatively minor, miscellaneous provisions.