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In fighting the war on terrorism, has the United States been acting within reasonable...

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af5 | Teacher | Honors

Posted July 18, 2012 at 4:15 AM via web

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In fighting the war on terrorism, has the United States been acting within reasonable limits to maintain its civil liberties? 

In fighting the war on terrorism, has the United States been acting within reasonable limits to maintain its civil liberties? 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2012 at 4:22 PM (Answer #2)

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Yes, the United States has acted in a fairly reasonable way to preserve civil liberties even as it fights a "war on terrorism."

If the United States were to be unreasonable, it could easily have taken much greater steps to protect itself.  It could have done away with the entire need for warrants when performing surveillance on potential terrorists.  It could have allowed for indefinite detention even of citizens suspected of terrorism.  It could have forced them to be tried as enemy combatants.  Instead, such drastic measures have not been taken.  The US has not turned into a police state.  There may be certain laws or actions taken that rub some people the wrong way, but it is hard to argue that the US has been completely unreasonable in its actions, at least within the country.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 18, 2012 at 6:59 AM (Answer #3)

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I agree with Post #2, the U.S. has definitely managed the delicate balancing act of protection versus liberties.  I think the Patriot Act raised a lot of red flags for people who feared invasion of privacy with the law's provisions for wire-tapping and surveillance, but with the threat level what it was (and still probably is), the government intelligence agencies have done well to work within those parameters. Like post #2 pointed out, it could have been much, much worse.

Kristen Lentz

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 18, 2012 at 2:03 PM (Answer #4)

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I agree with the posts above, but would like to make this point for the sake of conversation and in the interest of nit-picking. The US has acted reasonably to maintain civil liberties in the context of its war on terrorism but could have done better.

When compared to a liberal ideal, the administrations of the 2000s have done a good job to increase international and national security while largely avoiding impingements upon individual privacy and freedom (at least it seems that way to me), yet some of the legal maneuvers in this period have seemed unnecessary for security and detrimental to liberty. (I think here of airport security and Guantanamo Bay Prison.) 

So, if this were a yes or no question, I'd respond with a yes, but a qualified yes. 

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mwalter822 | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted July 18, 2012 at 4:48 PM (Answer #5)

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Opinions vary widely on this topic. I don't feel that any of my personal liberties have been violated. Waiting at airports does not qualify as a violation of personal liberty, in my opinion. My view might change if I suddenly found myself on a no-fly list, as has happened to a few people.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 18, 2012 at 8:47 PM (Answer #6)

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Absolutely, different people would answer this question in different ways, depending upon their personal experiences and situations. Persons who are United States citizens by virtue of being born in the USA and who have lived here their entire lives but are now being given "special attention" because their heritage, skin coloring, name is Hispanic or Arabic may have a different answer than someone whose family roots come from Scandanavia, for example.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 18, 2012 at 11:24 PM (Answer #7)

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Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush commented that "freedom is not free." As much as one would prefer to have civil liberties uninfringed, the need for security makes this impossible. I agree with the above posts that the U.S. has masterfully balanced the rights of individuals with the need to provide security. Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once commented: My right to swing my fist stops where the other man's nose starts." For the greater good of us all, it is necessary that some inconvenience be tolerated. Even so, I do not believe that anyone can truly claim that his/her rights under the Bill of Rights have been violated in the name of security.

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lffinj | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:50 AM (Answer #8)

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I think the answer to this question would also vary based upon personal experiences.  If one lived overseas during one of the embassy attacks or lived in the NY or Washington DC area on 9/11, they may have a different opinion than someone who lives in the mid-west or someone who was personally affected by a terrorist attack.  However, in terms of civil liberties, mine have not been that impacted but I would have no problem if they were slightly affected.  This is because I am not hiding anything regarding any terrorist attack and if it helps to save our country from another attack or saves one person, I would be more than willing to be inconvenienced.

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM (Answer #9)

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There is a new government complex going in south of where I live. It's quite hush-hush but the word going around is it's for The Department of Homeland Security and the people there will be listening in on telephone conversations all over the country to help find potential terrorists. We call it "the spy building." The 4th Amendment to the Constitution states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses . . . etc." Correct me if I'm wrong, but eavesdropping on private telephone conversations within the confines of my private home violates my right to be secure. I'm sorry if I'm having a problem with that!

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 1, 2012 at 12:34 AM (Answer #10)

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This is a volatile topic thus controversial and seemingly (though perhaps not rightly) solely a matter of opinion. I say perhaps not rightly because there are objective facts from which to draw logical conclusions. Those facts are in our National Documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and in the Founding Fathers writings, speeches and proclamations. In my opinion the question goes the other way: Have our civil liberties been violated? I believe the answer is "Yes" though I agree that measures are required for protection against would-be attackers and enemies. In my opinion, the violations bean with Congressional missteps after 911.

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