In U. S. , the bill of rights protects civil liberties. People in the United States, hold civil rights, which are those privileges, immunities and rights held by all Americans and political rights, which are the rights that are restricted to those who are entitled to participate in elections, as candidates or voters. The distinction is important since not all are eligible to vote though they all should enjoy their freedoms. This may no longer be feasible as majority of the civil rights are taken to include the political rghts in this age.
National security can be defined as a country’s need to maintain its survival by use of military, political and economic power for diplomacy. Civil liberty are freedoms and rights exercised by individuals in any country provided by their country’s legislation or international laws, for example the right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, the right to privacy, the right to security and liberty and many more. National security issues arose after the second world war in the united states of America with initial emphasis on the military.
For any country in this day and age, national security encompasses energy security, economic security, environmental security and many more. Security threats range not only from external states but also from illegal drug cartels, multi-national organizations and terrorists groups. The civil liberty concepts are protected under a country’s constitution, bill of rights. Other legal legislation are also adopted by country’s to uphold this civil liberties by giving effect to international laws passed in conventions such as the International Covenant and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
The protection of civil rights is deemed as the responsibility of a country’s people and government. The extent of some civil liberties, such as reproductive rights, property rights and several others are subject of debate. The debate of whether or not civil liberties should or can be infringed to ensure national security has been subject to never ending debate. The extent to which civil liberties can be altered and, or suspended with respect to the security of a nations interests calls for a reat deal of care in striking the correct balance.
Posner (2001) disputes the ideology of civil libertarians that national security will lead to an erosion of civil liberties. He proposes that the basic mistake is the prioritizing of liberty and is both a mistake about history as well as law when it comes to striking the needed balance between civil freedoms and national security. In his view, under law, these civil rights can rarely be altered to suit the time within which they exist to uphold the same rights as before.
Cole (2002), in contrast states that the nation’s response to national security threats has time and again infringed civil rights. The Supreme Court of the United State’s in tandem acknowledges that, “History abundantly documents the tendency of Government, however benevolent and benign its motives -to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies. ” that said, this is not a problem that is unique to the United States, but the constitutional structures, political will and religious structures do not protect the people’s rights.
He further points out that our governments subvert the freedoms that constitute the defense in the well being of a nation. Glenn Greenwald talks of the misconception of combating terror in the name of national security while upholding civil liberties. He emphasis that the meaning of this civil rights has been distorted and often misunderstood due to the description of combating terrorism to preserve national security. The meaning of terrorism has been built on the notion that, if one was not on our side then they were definitely against us.
This has grown fear within people that infringe on basic human rights e. g of residence, movement, expression, association and many more. The misinterpretation of upholding national security ends up marginalizing and curtailing the freedoms of some of the patriotic residents who may be involved directly or indirectly with particular religions and groups seen as potential threats. The F. B. I, has significant legal powers, excellent resources, and a jurisdiction that has overseas coverage.
They have in recent years penetrated and prosecuted many organized criminal gangs, uncovered public corruption and successfully caught up with terror attacks. Still the same F. B. I has curtailed the basic freedoms of association, speech e. t. c The bureau while protecting their national security freedoms has infringed the human rights by disrupting and neutralizing peaceful protests. It has more so focused its resources on neutralizing and curbing political activity other than investigate criminal activities.
The force, does not have accountability to the the public while incriminates on the basis of association instead of relying hard facts and evidence to get hold of the real criminals. The adoption of legislation such as the Anti-terrorism Act (1996), is a good indicator of past injustices and the unrestricted investigations by the bureau based on political agendas. The Act’s deliberate criminalization of peaceful activity gave the F. B. I. leverage to involve itself in the religious, ethnic and political grouping involving themselves in peaceful and humanitarian work.
Afterwards, it grew to encourage politically motivated investigations. The deportation and exclusion of immigrants on the basis of guilt of association completely discredits the protection of the civil rights. Other legislations such as the enactment of the secret evidence against alleged terrorists infringed on their basic freedoms e. g the right to confront one’s accusers. For any society, political freedom is key, thus allowing peaceful ways to express their dissatisfaction which in turn initiates social change.
Civil rights have been infringed since the legal regime established under Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower who facilitated the worst abuses in the FBI’s history, and eventually led to reforms. The FBI under new and better legislation undertook an intensive campaign with the aim of capturing suspected Communists,. The committees that were set up drew up lists and constructed links among organizations. They were confronted with incriminating evidence with no room for self defense and compelling testimonies from individuals who lost their jobs if they did not agree to testify, and to some extent were locked up.
Posner insists that these freedom should be curtailed up to the point where the benefits outweigh the costs of reduced liberty. In all this, legislation ought to be responsible as well as the officials so that they maintain the balance between the civil liberties and national security. History depicts officials generally exaggerate the dangers to the country’s security which is not entirely true.
Officials tasked with the responsibility to estimate the occurrences and magnitude of these dangers failed, thus led to the occurrences e. the civil war of Japan on the U. S that led to the distraction at Pearl Harbor,of Soviet espionage in the 1940s, the September 11 attacks and many more. The Government in times of crisis, will exercise its power to conduct a comprehensive domestic intelligence. The difference between legal dissent and criminal conduct is often forgotten. The work of the church, is to recommend means to make sure that the distinction will always be observed. The unfortunate bit arises when, you incompatible and outdated ways to deal with issues that threaten your national security.
Legislations that deem an individual guilty by association of group, color, race, religion should be put aside to ensure that the fundamental rights of each human being are respected and up held. In the ongoing balancing debate between civil liberties and national security is never ending. However, the constitution has an already balanced point between personal freedoms and government power. Hence the curtailing of individual rights is a personal decision or the government’s irresponsibility with the power vested in it by the same people it ought to protect.
Anti-terrorism can be used as a measure to the extent of infringing right. Despite the intense war to eradicate terrorism everywhere, the terrorist threat in reality cannot be eliminated. We need to come up with very good responses. However, this should be careful planned out and executed to avoid sacrificing the fundamental principles that constitute our democratic identity. Otherwise, it is best is to follow our liberal principles, to use the set criminal laws to punish and prosecute those who plan or carry out violent deeds and encourage critics of our government into the practice of tolerance and democracy.
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