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CIVIL LIBERTIES AFTER 9/11

Beginning soon after 9/11, there was an immense public outcry over the measures which the Bush administration was taking in its effort to avert future terrorist attacks. This outcry did not emanate solely from the far Left. From the libertarian Left, for instance, Anthony Lewis in the New York Times Magazine accused President Bush of having undermined civil liberties in a way that Lewis “did not [previously] believe was possible in our country.” And from the libertarian Right, William Safire denounced the Bush administration’s effort to realize “the supersnoop’s dream” of spying on all Americans.

But the anger of left-wing civil libertarians was unmatched. Specifically, they condemned what they viewed as the indignities of security checks at airports, the tracking of Muslim visitors to the United States, the detention of suspects for indefinite periods without access to the courts, and the government’s attempt to limit accused terror suspects' access to important evidence. Still worse, in the view of civil libertarians, was the Bush administration’s plan to use military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. Finally, and most troubling of all to critics, was the government's proposed Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) program—initially known as the Total Information Awareness program—which would employ computers to gather and assess vast amounts of data relating to the transactions of, among others, unknowing American citizens.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) purchased a full-page newspaper ad charging that the Patriot Act, the linchpin of the Bush administration’s security initiatives, went “far beyond fighting terrorism” and “allowed government agents to violate our civil liberties—tapping deep into the private lives of innocent Americans.” Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington office, claimed that Attorney General John Ashcroft had “clearly abused his power,” “systematically erod[ing] free-speech rights, privacy rights, and due-process rights.”

This section of Discover The Networks examines the substance of the foregoing objections, which cast virtually all anti-terrorism measures as egregious violations of civil liberties.


Adapted from "Civil Liberties After 9/11," by Robert Bork (July 4, 2003).

 

RESOURCES:

Civil Liberties After 9/11
By Robert Bork
July 4, 2003

The Real Threat to Civil Liberties
 By Victor Davis Hanson
July 11, 2007

Taking Liberties
By Ann Coulter
July 17, 2003


SEE ALSO:

* September 11th



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