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This week’s readings discuss the dichotomy that exists between providing for security and preserving civil liberties. Discussion Question: How can we best balance civil liberties in homeland security/homeland defense in the future?Instructions: Fully utilize the materials that have been provided to you in order to support your response. Your initial post should be at least 500 words. Forum posts are graded on timeliness, relevance, knowledge of the weekly readings, and the quality of original ideas. Sources utilized to support answers are to be cited in accordance with the APA writing style by providing a general parenthetical citation (reference the author, year and page number) within your post, as well as an adjoining reference list. Refer to grading rubric for additional details concerning grading criteria.Grading: Forums are graded using the following rubric: SSGS Discussion Forum Grading Rubric

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Lessons  WEEK 7: Civil Liberties and Homeland Security/Homeland Defense  Lesson
WEEK 7: Civil Liberties and Homeland Security/Homeland Defense
Civil Liberties
One of the most controversial areas of homeland security continues to be the balance between security and civil
liberties. One point of view is that people must give up some individual rights, because the alternative – being
defeated by the terrorists – is so horrible even to contemplate, that one simply cannot allow it to happen,
whatever the cost in terms of our rights. The other point of view is that says that one cannot lose their values,
because that is exactly what the struggle is all about and to give up one’s freedoms is to say that the terrorist
One of the liberties which many people have claimed has been greatly infringed upon is the right to privacy. It
happens in this context: it is known that America has millions of illegal aliens in the country. It is also known
that there are homegrown and non-state terrorist actors are in the country. How does one get them out, and
keep them out? One way to do this is by identification.
Biggest problem – and the biggest debate – is what can we use to identify a person? There are many
proponents of a national identification (ID) card. Will that mean the card is an infallible form of identification, or
not? Well, there is evidence that it will, and evidence that it won’t. Here’s why: the physical card itself has to be
based upon what are called “breeder” documents – things such as a Social Security card, a birth certificate
(and/or certificate of live birth), a driver’s license, a state-issued identification card, passports, etc. The problem
is that these documents are notoriously easy to forge or acquire fraudulently. Even if we can produce some sort
of valid national identification card, we have no guarantees that this identification wouldn’t be stolen by
Moving beyond the issue of a national ID, the issue many have heard of as regards privacy and civil liberties is
the passage of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and
Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, better known as the USA PATRIOT Act. The Act was passed a mere 30 days after
the 9/11 attacks. As a sidebar, and for better or for worse, our federal and state governments passed a flurry of
major and wide-ranging laws and Executive Orders, as well as restructuring, in the wake of September 11, 2001
(9/11). If the government had intended for their actions to be seen by the public as “doing something,” they
surely succeeded. One little known part of the USA PATRIOT Act, Title II actually made an expansive list of
crimes which do not – repeat do not – require a warrant or court order for monitoring. Some recent additions
(and this is because of an increased perception and probability of an attack) are cyber crime, terrorist-related
crimes, the activities of hackers, and crimes involving interstate and foreign commerce.
Murphy (2012) observed that over 10 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, there is little indication
that the homeland security revolution is slowing (p. 925). This observation is consistent with the findings of
Donohue (2009) who noted that laws passed to address terrorism often were applied across a broader spectrum
of legal issues and such laws were difficult to remove once passed, even if the law contained sunset
provisions. The difficulty of retiring a law can be seen in the continuation of contentious sections of the USA
PATRIOT Act past their initial sunset dates. This difficulty is rooted in the fact that passage of the law is normally
given a needed to prevent terrorism and when the sunset provision come up it is unlikely that legislators can
state that the threat of terrorism is past, repealing the law will not affect the chance of a terrorist event or that
a terrorist attack would be more acceptable than the law (Donohue, 2009, p. 372).
The issue of civil liberties and security is a continuing discussion with the area of homeland security. The
National Security Strategy states that “Advancing our interests may involve new arrangements to confront
threats like terrorism, but these practices and structures must always be in line with our Constitution, preserve
our people’s privacy and civil liberties, and withstand the checks and balances that have served us so well” (U.S.
President, 2010, p. 36). The passage of the USA PATRIOT Act raised a lot of concern with citizens regarding how
much civil liberty was being lost and if that signified a win for the terrorists. As the events of September 11,
2001 continue to move to the past there will be continued reflection on whether too many liberties have been
surrendered to ensure a safer and more secure nation. Hopefully the future will reflect the observations of
(2009) th t “Th fi t
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ith th
Donohue (2009) that “The first and most important step is to do away with the old assumptions – foremost
among them being the need to align security and freedom on opposite sides of a fulcrum that favors security”
(p. 390).
Homeland Security
In the wake of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security was formed, by merging 22 agencies. This means
that there were many agencies that were not merged – including the Department of Defense, CIA, the
Department of Justice (which includes the FBI) and the CDC. To better understand this, one must realize that
presently there are 35 different agencies involved in counterterrorism and DHS with its 22 agencies is only one
of them.
The 9/11Commission, among other things, called for integrated joint action by the federal agencies responsible
for homeland security. If one wants accountability, the starting point at the federal level should be aimed at joint
action rather than activities of the individual agencies. If one takes just one singular objective –
counterterrorism – it is evident that there cannot be a score of agencies doing their own thing. To take it a step
further, this federal mandate should be extended to state and local levels.
Looking at the state and local levels, one can see that every state in America has created a homeland security
department, or something with that function with words that are very close to “homeland security.” Recognizing
this fact, one can appreciate the problem of, and the need for, joint action from scores of different agencies at
the federal level, is fair to multiply that number by 50 (the 50 states) to get an idea of why accountability can
only be obtained from joint action. It gets even more obvious when you know that many locales also have their
own counterterrorism agencies. There are approximately 2,800 agencies in this country that deal with
counterterrorism. While all of this may show some complexity to the coordination of homeland security efforts,
there is yet another issue complicating coordination efforts-new threats.
Donohue, L. (2009). The perilous dialogue. California Law Review 97(2), 357-392.
U. S. President. (2010). National Security Strategy Barack Obama. Washington, DC: White House. Retrieved

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