Render your opinion on the issue of balancing the U.S. war on terrorism with the imperative of civil rights. Specifically, under what conditions, if any, can you see a justification for the authorities to institute tough security measures to safeguard the well being of the American citizenry if doing so might drastically curtail our civil rights?
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I was going to use that exact same quote #6! In order to achieve security from others you must not give up your freedom from the state. Then you will be safe from international threats, but vulnerable to attack from your own government.
Benjamin Franklin said "any society that would give up a little liberty for a little security will deserve neither and lose both." It is one thing to create long lines at the airport or add additional security measures. These things do not infringe upon our civil liberties. When we start talking about more drastic measures, I think the answer is clear. We should not sacrifice our liberty for security. What good is security without liberty?
The biggest problem with curtailing liberties is that once they are gone you cannot get them back. Now that our government has the Patriot Act, they will never stop watching us. People say that if you don’t have anything to hide it’s no big deal. However, what begins as just computers analyzing communications for terrorist activity can easily turn into something more invasive. There has to be a better way.
If the authorities are going to "drastically curtail" our rights, there has to be something that is extremely important to justify their doing so. In other words, there has to be some sort of dire emergency where inaction would cause worse harm than the harm caused by taking away our rights. So I would say that "drastic" curtailment of our rights should only come in a "clear and present danger" type of situation, not just any time when terrorism might happen.
I don't particularly like the idea of electronic eavesdropping without prior judicial approval. I think that could easily be abused. However, things like extensive searches at airports and no-fly lists are fine, in my opinion. I don't think we have a civil right to be free of a search (any search is reasonable if it means that hundreds of lives will be saved as a direct result) or to not have our name flagged for a good reason. I realize there are mistakes to no-fly lists, but that's human error, which will always happen.
This is a question that comes up very often in these discussions. In terms of justification, I would argue that torture is not justified, since that is one issue that has emerged from the war on terror. I would also suggest that we ought to have a pretty strict test to determine what "tough security measures" are necessary. It is a fundamental legal principle in the United States that agents of the law must show probable cause in order to restrict the liberties of an individual. I think this same principle must be applied here.
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