September 11, 2021
How 9/11 Radically Expanded the Power of the U.S. Government
In a recent article by Time Magazine, ACS President Russ Feingold and Director of Policy and Program Debra Perlin reflect on the expansion of executive power and sweeping legislation that followed the attacks on 9/11.
Many of those changes are a “cautionary tale” of rash decision-making. “When a president has what appears to be unlimited powers… the only thing holding them back are the norms of the office of the presidency and their own personal accountability,” Perlin says. “Fail-safes that we have all painfully learned can be insufficient.”
Congress also took several steps that furthered surveillance, including passing the Patriot Act in 2001, which drastically expanded surveillance tools used by law enforcement to investigate crimes. “As a result, the government has much more power than it needs, actually, to go after people that have done nothing wrong,” says Russ Feingold, the president of ACS who was the only U.S. senator to vote against the bill during its first vote in 2001, when he served as a Democrat from Wisconsin.