Terror and the Patriot Act of 2001, Implemented in the Immediate Wake of 9/11

In the fall of 2001 members of the U.S. executive branch terrorized Congress into passing the Patriot Act that assaulted the rights of citizens.

Graeme MacQueen

Tom Daschle was at the U.S. Capitol when news of the 9/11 attacks broke. He began watching events unfold on television like other Americans. But shortly after 10:30 a.m. a Capitol police officer ran into the room. “Senator, he said, “we’re under attack. We have word that an airplane is heading this way and could hit the building anytime. You need to evacuate.”[1]

The plane in question was probably the one that was eventually destroyed in Pennsylvania (allegedly United Airlines Flight 93). On September 11 and for some time after there was a widespread belief that this plane had originally been headed for the Capitol, the intention being to decapitate the republic by killing many of its elected members.

Daschle says “the scene was total chaos.” The halls “were filled with fear and confusion.” This was “the first time in history that the entire United States Capitol had been evacuated.”[2] With no procedure in place for this kind of attack, senators and representatives scattered. Daschle, as Majority Leader, was put by his security detail into a helicopter and flown to a secure location. Later, in the evening, members of Congress drifted back to the Capitol, listened to speeches, and broke into a spontaneous rendition of God Bless America.[3]

The unity that threat and war induce was already taking hold. Daschle says “we turned to one another like long-lost members of a large family and embraced.”[4] Of the day as a whole, he remarks: “I can’t think of a time in my life when I have witnessed such deeply felt unity and connection among our countrymen.”[5]

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