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Hot Button: Civil Liberties and Terrorism

September 11, 2001, painfully exposed flaws in America's national security. Much has changed in an attempt to correct these flaws, but not without costs. The Patriot Act granted the government unprecedented powers to stop terrorists, and since then we've seen an ongoing debate about warrantless wiretapping, as well as having to sacrifice time and convenience at the airport and public events.

But how much should Americans be required to sacrifice during wartime? If we have to give up the very civil liberties that define America, have we let the terrorists win? To shed some light on conflicting viewpoints regarding civil liberties and the War on Terror,

Civil Liberties must be sacrificed because:

  • Terrorists do not commit crimes prior to terrorist acts.
  • Failure to prevent terrorist acts can result in massive loss of life, and damage our economy.
  • Law-abiding citizens have nothing to hide.
  • Checks-and-balances will prevent our government from going too far.

  • Civil Liberties should be protected because:

  • Taking away civil liberties destroys what it means to be an American.
  • The Constitution guarantees civil liberties.
  • Potential for abuse now and in the future.
  • Potential for racial profiling.
  • Government could use information for political purposes.
  • Abusing rights of moderate Muslims takes away a source of tips, keeps them from acting as partners.

  • Should we sacrifice some of our civil liberties to help fight the war on terror?

    Join The Conversation
    Soon after 9/11 occurred, the victory of the terrorists was described as causing us to live in fear. Not long after, the Bush Administration did whatever they could to get us to live in fear, so that we would permit them trampling on our Constitutional Rights. "If you're not doing anything illegal you have nothing to worry about." That statement is completely beside the point. Americans should not be punished because we were attacked. They know where to go to find the terrorists, since 98% of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Notice, Bush NEVER mentioned attacking Saudi Arabia! Does anyone know why? Anyone, anyone? Could it be because Bush's companies were funded by Saudi royalty.
    lizadilly lizadilly 9 years
    How many secret acts of rendition, torture, and constitutional desecration have ocurred since the Patriot Act? Look at history, dig deep into the news, use your brain and bypass the hype.
    piper23 piper23 9 years
    How many terrorist attacks have we seen on American soil since the Patriot Act was enacted?
    lizadilly lizadilly 9 years
    @MissLee82: Either you don't know what "socialism" means or you don't know Clinton's politics; she is as far to the right as democrats go. Socialism is a far-left economic structure; its opposite is capitalism, not democracy. Just FYI. And to everyone else who says that you are comfortable with the government eavesdropping on you because you're not doing anything illegal -- you are missing the point. The current administration is constantly expanding what is "illegal." Don't you want the right to disagree, to dissent, to hold your elected officials accountable? THAT is what they are trying to squash. They make you think they're only interested in people blowing up buildings, but they also keep lists of professors, clergy, activists, writers, politicians, students, mediators, journalists and everyday schmos who collectively undermine their policies with a tide of critical thinking. Illegal wiretapping is a way of wrangling low-threat or no-threat dissenters. Why is that true? Because if someone was cooking up something truly criminal and they knew about it, they would have a WARRANT for a wire tap! Educate yourselves! Go to YouTube and look up "Naomi Wolf The End of America" or "Loose Change." And I'll leave you with a quote: "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." --Hermann Goering (Hitler's right-hand man, 2nd in command of the Third Reich)
    seimosiev seimosiev 9 years
    "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams I value my freedom more than my safety. I take a chance walking out my front door what with muggers, murderers and rapists proliferating this planet, but I take that chance, and I do so knowing that no one is keeping tabs on them. I am willing to take that chance with "terrorists," too. I am not willing to trade my freedom for safety.
    foxie foxie 9 years
    Uh.. what? How do you figure terrorism can't be predicted and prevented?
    Eternity Eternity 9 years
    no, and its not terrorism if it can be predicted and stopped.
    MissLee82 MissLee82 9 years
    I personally do not mind at a time of WAR that government does what is needed to be done to protect our safety. Because, really, I know that I don't do anything if they happen to tap into my phone line, oh well! They won't find anything! I find it ironic that many people want to bash President Bush for the Patriot Act...but the same people would most likely elect Hillary Clinton into office, who would just LOVE to turn our country into a socialist country. Then we wouldn't have ANY civil liberties.
    onabanana onabanana 9 years
    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" -Ben Franklin
    foxie foxie 9 years
    Also, you're all crazy if you think the government is wasting resources "spying" on any of you... unless, of course, any of you are targets of interest, which I hope not.
    onabanana onabanana 9 years
    Amendment IV US Constitution The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    onabanana onabanana 9 years
    This quote has been attributed to Julius Cesar, whither he said it or not is questionable but the sentiment fits in this case: Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so."
    Beauty Beauty 9 years
    The government has no business spying on citizens. Not in my view, anyway. Then again, if you enjoy having the Feds be able to break into your home, install surveillance equipment, read your e-mails, see what books you read, and never tell you about any of it, then yeah, the Patriot Act is a good thing.
    CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
    Let the Gov look at my Bank Account, they might be shocked and take pity and just let me keep my taxes. lol I wholeheartedly back up the patriot act. I have my own reasons, and my own proof that it works.
    freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
    Checks and balances do not always prevent our government from "going too far". Especially during wartime, when paranoia is rampant. The way politics has typically played out in that situation is that the President (and his party) can have free reign. I don't mind (well, not too much) the inconvienance of a more rigorous screening process at the airports and at the borders, in the name of security. I put down my foot at getting my privacy invaded by my very own government, whom I elected to represent ME.
    syako syako 9 years
    Didn't say I don't have a side. Just said I didn't want to get into it in this forum. Not the right place imo.
    dblgoldens dblgoldens 9 years
    Syako, here's one of my favorite quotes of late from Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel: "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." He said it his Nobel acceptance speech in 1986.
    syako syako 9 years
    I hate this statement: "Law-abiding citizens have nothing to hide." It just irks me to the core. I mean seriously, it sounds like something children in communist Soviet Union read when in school learning how to be good ole' patriots. It's a huge issue that I don't really feel like debating in the comments section - since there really are tons of sides and issues - but I just wanted to point out how much I loathe that statement.
    dblgoldens dblgoldens 9 years
    (rock on sashak!)
    dblgoldens dblgoldens 9 years
    Wait what? You are both willing to allow the government, YOUR GOVERNMENT, take away your civil liberties? To listen to your private phone calls? To read your emails? Your IMs? Your text messages? To look at your bank records? Your pay-per-view and Tivo choices? Your library check-outs? To pat you down in full view of the public especially of you are deemed "ethnic" looking? Where will it end? Don't be fooled, the Patriot Act is merely another way for this current machination of our government (a government filled with greedy self-serving politicians looking to benefit personally from deregulation in favor of corporations running our lives) to get in our pockets. It is called fascism my friends; maybe Citizen should put that in her Definition glossary next time. Your government is YOU and you are the government. PARTICIPATE!
    sashak sashak 9 years
    I say no way in hell. This is America, not Stalinist Russia. I think if the govt wants to spy on its own citizens, it damn well needs to tell us why it needs to do so & what, if any, results they have gotten
    remedios remedios 9 years
    "Give me liberty or give me death."** ** Unless my govt tells me otherwise.
    foxie foxie 9 years
    I honestly don't give a rat's arse if the government wants to listen to me gab on the phone. The thing that kind of sucks is that no one, outside of the top echelon of the government, can really say how many terrorist attacks and security compromises have been prevented directly because of the Patriot Act. This sort of information isn't paraded around on a banner, it's just tucked away as another day's work. I can see both sides here I guess, but in the end the choice seems very obvious to me.
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