searching for sensible alternatives

Links:

American Civil Liberties Union
Amnesty International
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
CATO Institute
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Democracy and Technology
Constitution Project
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
First Monday
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
National Lawyers Guild
National Security Agency
People for the American Way
Privacy International
Rights and Liberties - AlterNet
Southern Poverty Law Center
U.S. Department of Justice

Documents:

Declaration of Independence
Bill of Rights
U.S. Constitution
Homeland Security Act of 2002
The Patriot Act
Patriot II - draft

Credits:

Posters on each page - Copyright 2003, Micah Ian Wright, Visit The Propaganda Remix Project for more information.

 

Law and Liberty in a
"Secure Homeland"

Kenneth Mentor J.D., Ph.D.
Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice 
University of North Carolina Pembroke

"To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends."

-- United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, December 6, 2001.
 

ABSTRACT

Policy responses to incidents of terror have resulted in significant restructuring of government agencies, a retrenchment of civil rights and civil liberties, and a level of surveillance that some suggest was unthinkable in the past. It may be argued that the confluence of terrorism, authoritarianism, corporatism, and technology has enabled rapid adoption of policies with broad implications. These policies, adopted in the face of seemingly ineffective legal and social opposition, will lead to many legal challenges in the coming years. These policies have the potential to profoundly change society, in America and throughout the world. This presentation outlines the issues and controversies surrounding the push for a governmental response that has been bundled and marketed as “Homeland Security.”

Introduction

This web site has been prepared to provide information about a range of issues related to "Homeland Security," "The Patriot Act," and "Civil Liberties." My intent is not to "scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty." The goal is to provide information that can empower site visitors who are interested in reviewing, and critically thinking, about the issues. I hope visitors leave this site with an informed opinion about the issues presented on these pages. Each page includes "reflection questions" that can be used for individual learning or incorporated into a course assignment.

Since the events of 9/11, the federal government has been significantly restructured. In many cases, this restructuring has resulted in increases in the government's ability to collect information about citizens and others. Some suggest that this is necessary. Others argue that this is a necessary evil that citizens should accept, at least during a time of crisis. Others argue that such severe threats to our civil liberties cannot be justified in any situation. Some even suggest that the administration is shamelessly using 9/11 as an excuse to do what they were inclined to do anyway.

The truth lies somewhere between these extremes - and everyone is likely to come to a different "truth." This site includes topically arranged discussion and links. The links are intended to provide a range of perspectives. As with any learning experience, it is helpful to keep an open mind as you search for your truth. The reflection questions do not lead to clear answers. Think through the issues, examine your feelings, and question whether you are "filtering" information as a result of personal bias.

As we know, much of what can be found on the internet would not be considered "scholarly." In contrast to scholarly journals, internet content is not always subjected to peer review. The links included in this presentation were selected, in part, because of the quality of the content found at the sites. Although each site may not be fit your definition of "quality," I hope you find that the links provide valuable information and perspectives. Remember that sites may contain valid information even if that information runs counter to your beliefs.

Finally, many of the links included in this presentation could be defined as critical. In part, this is due to the nature of the internet. People and organizations who are happy with the status quo do not typically start a web site to tell everyone how well things are going. Critical information is also included as a counterbalance to information found in media and government sources.

Reflection Question #1:

Does the Internet provide "balance" or is the critical content found on the internet so biased that it cannot be trusted? Assume, for the sake of argument, that the internet does provide balance. What is on the other side of the scale and why is balance necessary?

Site Structure:

This site includes this introduction and four additional pages. Links to each page are found below and at the top of each of these pages. The "Civil Liberties" section includes general information about U.S. Constitutional law, civil rights, and civil liberties. The "Homeland Security" section presents information about The Patriot Act and the state of civil liberties in 2003. The third section, titled "Why Now?," moves to a discussion of the combination of events that have allowed such rapid, and wide reaching, alterations of civil liberties. This section also includes a discussion of limits placed on civil liberties during times of war or crisis. The "Challenges" section includes links related to various efforts to protect civil liberties. A list of addition readings is also included.

I hope you find this site interesting and educational. You are encouraged to provide feedback to Kenneth Mentor.

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