Terrorists often don't commit crimes until they carry out the terrorist act itself.
Thousands or millions could potentially be killed if we fail in our efforts.
The economic damage of attacks can put many people out of work and destroy wealth.
Intelligence and circumstantial evidence can lead agents to the identification of a
likely terrorist, but they may not be able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
We would have additional tools for fighting non-terrorism related crimes such as drug
trafficking and racketeering.
A certain amount of trust has to be put in the hands of the government if we are to accomplish anything.
Terrorists will be forced to re-organize and plan around all the new anti-terror methods, which can
be expensive and time-consuming.
New methods of data collection can help law enforcement increase the probability of zoning in on the guilty
people and avoiding harassment of the innocent ones.
Our American system of checks-n-balances prevents the government from going too far.
Taking away civil rights essentially destroys the very definition of what it means to be an American, which
in effect gives the terrorists a victory.
Constitutional protections are being violated.
There is a potential for abuse by this administration or future administrations.
It could lead to racial profiling and other methods of discrimination & harassment.
The government could use the information for non-terror political purposes (e.g. blackmail, embarrassment of
Abusing the rights of moderate Muslims and certain other groups may push them to the side of extremists,
possibly taking away a source of tips on finding existing terrorists and also possibly creating new terrorist
The large scale of the 9/11 attacks exposed some obvious security flaws in our system. Terrorists slipped through immigration
and airport checks and managed to live, train, and plan in the U.S. for several years. Fears were justifiably raised of
several other groups of terrorists (called sleeper cells) waiting and planning for the order to commit their designated
terrorist attack. Congress almost immediately passed the Patriot Act, which gave the government substantially more powers to
track down these terrorists. Security has been tightened at airports, ports, borders, etc. and a Department of Homeland
Security has been created to oversee the efforts.
As more government power has been added, many have charged that our privacy and civil rights are being slowly taken away.
For example, people are being locked up without a trial or access to a lawyer. Another example is
the integrated system, called Total Information Awareness (TIA), which
is in the process of being created to track data on
everyone in the country, including credit card purchases, library book checkouts, group affiliations, cell phone records, and
gun ownership. Also, the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration
before it, undertook certain domestic NSA spy operations on Americans
without court oversight. Civil rights advocates say a dangerous form of government "Big Brother" is being established that threatens to
destroy the American way of life. Dubious wartime efforts throughout our history, such as Japanese internment, the Palmer
raids, and Cold War McCarthyism, have been cited as justifiable reasons for these fears.
Many of the policies continued under President Obama, including other techniques
such as setting up wiretaps without a court warrant.
The question remains, how much should our civil rights and privacy be reduced to fight the war on terror? What is the proper