Homeland Security Versus Constitututional Rights

Overview

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the government has taken extraordinary measures to protect our nation. The USA PATRIOT ACT became law, and President Bush issued an executive order authorizing the use of military tribunals in place of civilian courts to try suspected terrorists. While U.S. citizens all agree that new methods are necessary to protect the general population from terrorist acts, there is growing concern over their constitutionality. Their chief defender, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ...
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Overview

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the government has taken extraordinary measures to protect our nation. The USA PATRIOT ACT became law, and President Bush issued an executive order authorizing the use of military tribunals in place of civilian courts to try suspected terrorists. While U.S. citizens all agree that new methods are necessary to protect the general population from terrorist acts, there is growing concern over their constitutionality. Their chief defender, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says "Foreign terrorists who commit war crimes against the U.S...are not entitled to and do not deserve the protections of the American Constitution." But there is strong argument against today's antiterrorist measures from both the left and the right. The New York Times chastised Ashcroft, pointing out that "it is vital that the United States be seen as acting in accord with human rights principles." Ordinary citizens are split between feeling that the rights of citizens do not extend to everyone who happens to enter our country, and a fear that we are in the process of undermining the very values and principles on which our nation was established. In this carefully researched text, author Gottfried offers young adults access to both sides of the debate.

Examines both sides of the question: Are we defending our nation against terrorism at the expense of the rights of the individual citizen?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a debate has simmered regarding the balance between appropriate defense of security and civil liberties. In an age when terrorism has come to the forefront as a global threat to peace, there is growing concern that one of the first casualties of such guerrilla warfare may well be the freedom that has typified American society. Ted Gottfried tackles this complex and perplexing issue. In a balanced manner, Gottfried applies a combination of skills to an issue that has long term implications. Initially, Gottfried traces some of the history of modern terrorism and thereby crafts a position that emphasizes the extreme threat that such militants represent. However, Gottfried also notes the ways in which the very act of fighting terrorism creates an absence of democracy and due process that has long-standing implications. Topics such as racial profiling, discrimination, overly free access to personal information, and inhumane treatment are all by-products of the American government's efforts to maintain social order in the face of heinous actions on the part of terrorists. Gottfried also points out the reasons why government officials have recommended some curtailing of liberties at a time when the stakes are so high. All in all, Ted Gottfried is to be commended for providing readers with such a well written and thoughtful account of a contemporary issue of the highest priority. 2003, Twenty-First Century Books, Ages 12 up.
— Greg M. Romaneck
VOYA
Gottfried gets it just right. In clear, unemotional language, he lays out the pros and cons of the massive changes that have taken place in the United States, post-September 11, in the name of homeland security. Written after the start of the war in Iraq, his narrative carefully details the hot-button laws and actions that are unsettling to citizens and lawmakers alike. He covers the controversial U.S.A. Patriot Act, the treatment of Arab Americans and other ethnic groups, airport security, the balance of the Constitution and presidential powers during times of war, patriotism versus the right of free speech, and even the handling of prisoners of war and detainees. He points out the realities of military tribunals and even mentions the ill-fated Office of Strategic Influence and its policies of disseminating misinformation here and abroad. Dozens of powerful photographs, both current and historic, work in tandem with sections on such noteworthy events as the Alien and Sedition Acts and the suspension of habeas corpus in 1861, to describe the paths this nation has used when under attack to protect its citizens and to seek out the aggressors. Despite its sketchy indexing (i.e., no listings for military tribunals or the American Taliban although there is one for John Walker Lindh), this invaluable text is highly recommended. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Twenty-First Century, 128p.; Glossary. Index. Photos. Source Notes. Chronology., PLB. Ages 11 to 18.
—Beth E. Andersen
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Gottfried deals with the potentially explosive topic of Constitutional rights and whether or not they are violated by the added security measures deemed necessary by our government to prevent further terrorist attacks. The author references news stories heard throughout the conflict with Afghanistan and the war with Iraq, such as the treatment of POWs at Guantanamo Bay, the USA PATRIOT Act, as well as the sometimes frustrating terror code warnings issued by the government that affect the way Americans travel and live. Gottfried covers all sides of each issue, providing facts that allow readers to draw their own conclusions. Human-interest stories are included, describing the unjustified arrest of many young men of Arab descent following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Direct quotes and black-and-white photos add an additional element of human interest. The final chapter explores the idea of criticizing the government and the president as being unpatriotic as well as the conflict in Congress over President Bush's decision to go to war. The book offers more in-depth information than most students receive from newspapers or television, giving opposing viewpoints in a logical, nonthreatening manner.-Julie Webb, Shelby County High School, Shelbyville, KY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761328629
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/5/2003
  • Series: Single Titles Ser.
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Response to Terrorism 9
Chapter 2 Dealing With Terrorism 22
Chapter 3 The Detainees 37
Chapter 4 Presidential Power and the Constitution 55
Chapter 5 Keeping the Vigil 66
Chapter 6 The POW Controversy 78
Chapter 7 Patriotic Critics 91
Chronology 105
Glossary 108
For More Information 113
Source Notes 115
Index 124
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