War on Terror: Security and Liberty
They that would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin, 1759
When the hijacked airliners crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, into the Pentagon in Virginia just outside Washington, and into a field in Pennsylvania on the bright sunny morning of September 11, 2001, America changed from a land at peace on its own soil to a land under attack by international terrorists. Thousands of innocent people—men, women, and children—had been ruthlessly murdered. Not only Americans were killed; the carnage included citizens from many nations who were in the World Trade Center at the time. This was clearly a horrible American and world tragedy.
As in prior times of danger threatening our nation, our democratic government had to plan for security against future attack. Once again, we confronted the question of whether a free society, under a Constitution that defines the people as sovereign, and under a Bill of Rights that protects the personal freedoms of the citizenry from abuse by government, can be made adequately secure from such attacks without surrendering its freedom. In short, just how durable and strong are U.S. constitutional principles of freedom and individual liberty? Is it true, as U.S. government officials in times of crisis often claim, that such principles are workable only in periods of calm and peace, and cannot be afforded in times of crisis and emergency?