What have been the concerns?
Civil liberties and security concerns of terrorism have existed in America for many years. The 20th century saw major security threats against the American people, which included WWI, WWII and the Cold War. For example, during WWI, the Sedition Act of 1918 led to many prosecutions for those who were against the war effort. Among the Sedition Act’s provisions were restrictions against the use of the postal service and free speech (Sauter & Carafano, 2005). During WWII, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the War Relocation Authority directed the evacuation of about 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry, who were accuse of sabotage and spying. Therefore, security threats and concerns mainly arose from countries and this can be referred to as state-sponsored terrorism. However, threats have greatly changed.
What are the current concerns?
With globalization, the new global environment has changed the nature of terrorism because it has resulted in terrorist interconnectivity. Today’s terrorism consists of a sophisticated and worldwide network, with groups such as Al-Qaeda being able to mobilize many people and resources and mold them into a technologically and organizationally advanced force (Sauter & Carafano, 2005). It is the proliferation of such groups that led to the 9/11 attacks, an act that Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for. Following these attacks, civil liberties again came under threat with policy makers asserting that a line had to be “redrawn between liberty and security” (Prieto, 2009). The state was regarded to as a surveillance state. The USA Patriot Act is an example of a legislation passed by congress after these attacks that robbed Americans of their freedoms (Hardin, 2004). Therefore, with the terrorist network becoming more interconnected, and a rise in domestic terrorism, there still is a friction between security and civil liberties.
What are the future concerns?
Recently, North Korea conducted a nuclear test. Iran is suspected to be developing nuclear weapons, a claim that Iran vehemently denies. Recent cyber attacks on American companies such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have been alleged to have originated from hackers in China (Voigt, 2013). Therefore, nuclear threats and cyber terrorism will dominate the future security concerns for the country. Again, civil liberties for persons from countries perceived to be US enemies might see their freedoms violated. At the same time, cyber freedoms will come under scrutiny as agencies try to contain any form of security threat. Therefore, the balance between security and civil liberties will continue being very delicate.
Hardin, R. (2004) Civil Liberties in the Era of Mass Terrorism. The Journal of Ethics, 2004, Vol. 8, pp. 77-95.
Prieto, D.B. (2009) War About Terror: Civil Liberties and National Security After 9/11. Council on Foreign Relations Working Paper, February 2009, pp. 1-116.
Sauter, M.A. & Carafano, J.J. (2005) Homeland Security: A Complete Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Surviving Terrorism. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Voigt, K. (2013, February 2) Chinese Cyber Attacks on West are Widespread, Experts Say. CNN, 2013. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/01/tech/china-cyber-attacks