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Civil Liberty-Homeland Security Debate: Historical Context And Government Response

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The focus of the report is the Civil Liberty-Homeland Security Debate. The report offers a historical context of security and liberty. Following this, a discussion of the primary issues in this context is conducted. The report concludes by arguing that the counter-measures have rarely addressed the dissent, calling for a long-term solution through political inclusion, social reform, and protection of rights.

Civil Liberty-Homeland Security Debate

The term homeland security is common to the security environment, as well as the modern political lexicon (Alperen, 2017). Even though homeland security remains a new term that was formulated in the context of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, the concept has always existed in times of political crisis and national security. Whenever there has been a national security issue or a political crisis, controversial measures were implemented in such times. One of the common examples of these measures includes media restriction.

Restrictions to security-related information access have been undertaken in the United States from time to time. The logic behind the introduction of such measures is understandable in crisis. The policy decision introduced by the government was that counterterrorism policy or war effort imposition of limitations on the media, in terms of preventing information from reaching in the enemy hands and preventing the enemy from their propaganda. Democracies find it increasingly challenging to balance to ensure a balance between unbridled propaganda and control of information for national security.

According to the preamble of the US constitution, the main aim of the government system is the provision of welfare, security, and peace to the citizen, as well as securing the liberties of the citizen. There are lies a difficulty in balancing the desire between safeguarding human rights, as well as, securing the nation. Therefore, there is often a debate on how to achieve these goals. The purpose of the case study is to discuss the primary issues related to the debate. To achieve the aim of the case study, it is essential to understand the historical context of security and liberty.

The historical context of Security and Liberty

Numerous security-related policies have been integrated into domestic society and politics. The reason behind the introduction of such policies was protecting the nation from threats. Over the years, various instances have occurred when American leaders have enacted policies for managing the crisis. These countermeasures were essential and popular during the time, the reason was that domestic security was identified as a necessity. Even though there remained support for these policies, there was strong opposition and criticism regarding the implementation of the policies. The ethics, as well as the constitutionality of the laws, came under question after the post-crisis years. During the Early Republic and Civil War, the government introduced laws such as the Alien Enemies Act, Alien Friends Act, Naturalization Act, Sedition Act, and various acts were introduced.

Achieving Security

Advocates on civil liberties contend that it is vital to ensure that there is a balance between the protection of civil liberties and achieving security. To ensure security, the government should take a proportionate response to the threat and ensure the implementation of the measures. Simultaneously advocates on civil liberties have argued that as the response of the government is mostly reactive, it is essential to devise a permanent solution by countering extremism through reform (Alperen, 2017). In the next part, we discuss the context of the balance between civil liberties and homeland security.

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Government Response and Civil Liberty

The focus of homeland security experts is primarily on achieving counterterrorist objectives. Through these objectives, they minimize, instead of eliminating the threats related to terrorists. In a practical sense, the objectives are as follows:

  • Disruption and prevention of domestic terror organizations from hatching conspiracies.
  • Deterring the activists from cross the line between political violence, and extremist activism.
  • Implementing task forces, as well as laws for creating a cooperative environment for counterterrorism.
  • Minimizing causalities, as well as the physical environment.

Balance of theory and practice

There remains no method or model to apply security across the terrorism environment or other scenarios. Due to the reality, the process to present a counterterrorism model should include a framework on theory, as well as practical necessities.

The theoretical models must incorporate respect for the protection of human rights and balancing them against the options regarding low enforcement and usage of force. For the models to remain practical, constant updating as well as adaptation of the models to the threats is critical. Perhaps, adapting the models would help in controlling terrorism by controlling extremists and violent dissidents. The adaptation of the counterterrorism policy might require controlling the information from media, as well as engaging in surveillance of private communications. Both of these factors have a significant impact on civil liberty.

Media regulation

Freedom of the press is an ideal standard in the United States (Alperen, 2017). According to the phrase, the press must enjoy the freedom to liberty to report information even in the case when the information is politically sensitive. Whenever there is a criticism of the news published by media, a common citation by media is that people have a right to know. The primary question that arises is whether the right to know extends to even the information that might have an impact on national security.

In this respect, a counter-argument is that absolute freedom of the press means press regulation. Issues start when information that must not be taken into consideration by the public is published by the media. When national security is at stake, regulation is a genuine option. When these kinds of concerns occur, the question for the editors and policymakers is that should there be an official regulation of the media and if regulation is desirable then to what extent is it acceptable.

Electronic surveillance and Civil Liberty

One of the major issues that have emerged in recent years is the electronic surveillance. Unregulated interception of emails, conversations, telefacsimile, or other forms of transmission raises fear regarding civil liberties. There remains a worry that the government would make use of these technologies for illegitimate reasons. The absence of strict protocols raises concerns regarding liberty, privacy, and security (Persyn and Polson, 2012).


Extremist beliefs, as well as ideologies, are ground for violent behavior. Some of the core motivations behind terrorism include nationalism, ethnocentrism, racism, religious fanaticism, ideological intolerance. History has always shown that coercive measures used for countering tendencies have not been significantly successful. Suppression and repression of civil liberties might lead to a backlash where the members who are suppressed are justified in the resistance.

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Civil Liberty-Homeland Security Debate: Historical Context And Government Response. (2021, September 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from
“Civil Liberty-Homeland Security Debate: Historical Context And Government Response.” Edubirdie, 29 Sept. 2021,
Civil Liberty-Homeland Security Debate: Historical Context And Government Response. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2022].
Civil Liberty-Homeland Security Debate: Historical Context And Government Response [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 29 [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from:
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