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LII Backgrounder on Terrorism Law

terrorism defined...

...violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

--18 U.S. Code Part I, Chapter 113b, § 2331

Significant Terrorist Incidents since 1961 (U.S. Department of State: 2001)

Report on Foreign Terrorist Organizations (U.S. Department of State: 2001)

The Coordination of US Government Powers

The Executive Branch

The President declared a National Emergency by executive order by reason of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (under authority of 50 U.S.C. 33, § 1621(b)).

The Legislative Branch

Anti-Terrorism Legislation:

U.S. Code dealing with Terrorism:

Joint Resolution of 107th Congress : authorizing the use of the United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks launched against the United States on September 11, 2001 (PDF)

Legislation related to the attacks of September 11, 2001 (Library of Congress)

  • The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001 (HR 3162) was signed into law by President Bush on October 26, 2001. The USA PATRIOT Act increased the surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement agencies to detect and deter acts of terrorism in the United States or against the United States' interests abroad. The Act was introduced and passed quickly, without a House, Senate, or conference report, which most likely contributed to the emergence of recent challenges to the act on civil liberty grounds.
  • The Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act - H.R. 2926, November 19, 2001 - establishes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the Department of Transportation responsible for security of all transportation.
  • The Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act of 2001 - H.R. 2884, January 23, 2002 - provides tax relief for victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • The Homeland Security Act of 2002 - H.R. 5005, November 25, 2002- establishes the Department of Homeland Security which consolidates 22 domestic agencies under Secretary Ridge.

Post September 11, 2001 Committees and Reports

The Judicial Branch

See also: LII Backgrounder on National Security Law and War Powers