Civil Liberties vs National Security In a Post 9/11 Era

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The debate on how far the government should go in order to preserve national security is one that creates many arguments today. Many civil liberty advocates argue that citizens’ liberties should not be infringed upon as a result of national security measures. The other side argues that the actions taken by the government have been successful in preventing future terrorist attacks and keeping the nation safe. Certain legislation such as the Patriot Act gives the government, and more specifically the executive branch, the authority to violate Constitutional rights and infringe upon civil liberties. David Cole, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, says that the Patriot Act casts a cloak of secrecy over the government and the power given to them. It allows the government to go above and beyond their normal jurisdiction and take away the basic civil liberties of everyday individuals.

When examining how the Patriot Act infringes upon civil liberties, it is important to add that not all provisions in the legislation are bad or violate the rights of citizens. Some of the provisions in the Patriot Act have aided the government in stopping terrorist threats and keeping America safe. It’s reported that an almost forty terrorist plots have been prevented as a result of the expanded surveillance programs.

While expanded surveillance and power to the government has been helpful, the invasion of privacy and infringement of civil liberties is not needed. Citizens in the United States should not have to be spied on and tracked at all times in order to prevent future terrorist threats. Recently, government officials have argued that the NSA and other government agencies are not listening into phone conversations of everyday Americans, but certain whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden have announced that this is not true. Edward Snowden is considered a traitor to many, but simply reveled the criminal injustice that exists in the government today. He made society aware of the violations and infringements that the government commits on a daily basis. Some people are even going as far as comparing Edward Snowden to the great Harriet Tubman.

This video shows how the national government argues that they do not spy on individuals, but that fact has been disproven by whistle blowers and previous employees.

The overall point is that no matter what the government tells their citizens, they will continue to read the emails and listen into the phone conversations of everyday Americans. The Patriot Act is the most prominent piece of legislation that allows the government to violate citizens’ Constitutional rights and infringe upon their civil liberties, but it can be changed. In a recent poll done by Pew Research, a mere twenty-four percent of individuals believe that giving up basic civil liberties is necessary to preserve national security. No government should give themselves the authority to violate the basic rights guaranteed to their citizens by our founding fathers.


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