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National security laws and procedures have changed significantly since September 11, 2001, triggering a nationwide debate about the relationship between civil liberties and national security that remains heated to this day. The changes were codified in the U.S. Patriot Act. The first version was passed in October 2001. Since then, the Act has been renewed twice and has also gone through numerous legislative overhauls. The Patriot Act extends the rights of numerous governmental agencies as well as the executive branch of government. These extensions were put into place to better enable the fight against terrorism, however many critics believe the extensions went too far. For example, interrogators can delay informing suspects of a warrant out for their arrest until they have completed questioning. This decreasese the likelihood that suspects will withhold valuable information. Organizations such as the ACLU continue to aggressively advocate against such policies as violations of American civil liberties. Another important change in National Security after 9/11 is the degree of communication between various governmental bodies and agencies. Before 9/11, threats to national security tended to be handled by specific agencies, with little to no outside influence. After 9/11, organizations developed a culture of sharing and cooperation rather than independent pursuit. This trend has also raised privacy concerns. The changes to national security brought on by 9/11 remain controversial.
Since 9/11, the government has done a number of things (that are directly related to terrorism) to try to increase national security. Let's look at three examples.
- Transportation Security Administration. There is so much more security screening at airports today than there was before the attacks. This is perhaps the most visible aspect of heightened concern for national security.
- The war in Afghanistan/use of drones in Pakistan and elsewhere. The government is trying to make it impossible for Al Qaeda and other terrorists to set up camps and strongholds anywhere in the world (as they did in Afghanistan before 9/11).
- Patriot Act. The government has taken for itself more expansive powers to conduct surveillance on and otherwise investigate suspected terrorists.
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