Civil Liberties and Terrorism 9-11 Essay

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Civil Liberties, a Price to Pay for Safety?

Terrorism is something that a country or a nation has to deal with at some time or another. The United States experienced a terrible tragedy on September 11th 2001 when the twin towers in manhattan collapsed due to hijacked airplanes. Ever since then, America has been on high alert in order to avoid another catastrophe. Some of the measures taken such as the passing of the Patriot Act to ensure such an event will not happen again restrict what can be carried on airplanes, such as smaller carry ons, smaller amount of liquids, etc.

American citizens have had issues with these "intrusions." Some have complained about the long wait times at airport check ins or the monitoring of possible "terrorist activity." However, in order for the United States to be a safer country, certain precautions must be met. American citizens should be willing to part with some of their civil liberties for the protection of the homeland. Monitoring of text, voice, websites, airport security searches, etal. should be allowed.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America made people across the country and the world take the time to reflect on the institutional framework of civil society and the commitment to democratic principles. It's difficult to maintain a proper balance of protection of citizens' rights and liberties against their ensuring peace and security. It become a constant struggle. This is especially true during crises or war. The September 11 attack surfaced the questions of whether people will allow restrictions placed on their personal freedom for increased security and a sense of personal safety.

The Patriot Act grants federal agents the right to obtain National Security Letters in order to collect evidence for criminal cases. "Prior to the Patriot Act, the letters could be used only for collection of intelligence" (Marcovitz 100). The Patriot Act emblazoned federal agents to attain warrants from the "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court" (Marcovitz 100) to wiretap suspected individuals for supposed criminal activity. Before the enactment of the Patriot Act, the court only issued wiretap warrants for intelligence-gathering purposes. People who support the Patriot Act state few terrorist attacks have risen since its passing.

Recent articles have shown that these restrictions have challenged the democratic resolve of United States citizens. Davis & Silver (2002) conducted a national survey right after the terrorist attacks during the Fall of 2001. Their results were: "In the tradition of research on political tolerance and democratic rights in context, this study uses a national survey of Americans conducted shortly after the September 11, 2001 attack on America to investigate people's willingness to trade off civil liberties for greater personal safety and security. We find that the greater people's sense of threat, the lower their support for civil liberties " (Davis, and Silver 28). To conduct and analyze the information from the survey, they also performed additional research. The additional research revealed the civil liberties allowed in the Patriot Act: "Using the contextual issues surrounding the trade-offs and the Patriot Act legislation, we identify several dimensions of support for civil liberties. Each of these became an important public issue in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Specifically, we examine support for civil liberties in relation to the following issues:

Habeas Corpus: indefinite detention of non-citizens suspected of terrorism

Racial Discrimination: racial profiling

Government Surveillance: increased wire tapping and e-mail surveillance

Freedom of Speech: school teachers criticizing anti-terrorism policy

Right to Privacy: national identity cards

Freedom of Association: belonging to or supporting alleged terrorist organization

Protection from Search and Seizure: search on suspicion without court order

Freedom of Assembly and Speech: investigate nonviolent protestors " (Davis, and Silver 32)

One of the main relevant findings of research on democracy and mass beliefs concerning civil liberties is the importance of context. Although comprehension of the support for generalities of democracy is relevant, however, the more crucial aspect is support for democratic norms when they

conflict with other significant beliefs (Leone, and Anrig 112). Context-specific events grant important insight into the level of responsibility to democratic standards. It is the actual support for democratic beliefs and its conflict with other values that shows consequences over people's everyday lives.

In order for a nation to remain democratic, it often requires a large amount of fortitude, but when individuals have to abide by and live with the aftermath of their democratic beliefs, the strength…[continue]

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