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The USA Patriot Act: A Reference Handbook is an in-depth examination of the difficult wartime task of balancing civil liberties against national security. Can the government make your library turn over a list of books you've checked out and websites you've visited? Can FBI agents search your home without telling you they've been there? Under normal circumstances, the answer is a resounding no. In today's world, constitutional guarantees are not so firm. Within weeks of the September 11 terrorist attacks, overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress passed the USA Patriot Act. The act immediately aroused bitter controversy. Some claim it impermissibly infringes on constitutional rights; others argue it is a necessary tool to ensure the security of the American homeland. Distinguished scholar and prolific author Howard Ball provides the background necessary for a reasoned, historical examination of both positions.;He details the threats to America in the last 60 years, emphasizing terrorist acts; examines the temporary surrender of civil rights during past American wars; and uses that history to analyze the USA Patriot Act, both as it exists and as arguments rage over whether to strengthen or weaken the law.