Liberty and Security
As we remembered the events of 9/11 in September 2003, and the thousands who died in the terrorist attacks, it became clear that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist henchmen did a lot more damage to the United States than the destruction of buildings and the murder of our people. The terrorists had spread terror and fear, as they had hoped, but they had also dealt a serious blow to our economy. Far worse, bin Laden had caused us to set aside some of our precious freedoms in the interest of increasing security and striking back at terrorism. Two years later, Americans are beginning to question the value of security over liberty, and government power over individual privacy. There are no easy answers.
This has happened before. During the Civil War, President Lincoln suspended various civil liberties in the interest of maintaining security, especially when it appeared that Southern sympathizers in the North were cooperating with the rebels. The suspension of legal norms led to abuses by security officials, including rather draconian behavior by Lafayette Baker, the head of the newly created Secret Service. People were jailed without due process, homes were raided without warrants, and surveillance of suspected Southern sympathizers was carried out without court order. These actions may sound familiar to anyone reading about the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
After fears of espionage agents and saboteurs grew in World War I, there was again an outcry for increases in homeland security. In 1917, even before the United States entered the war, after German agents blew