News / USA

Post 9/11, Americans Seek to Balance Security, Civil Rights

Mike O'Sullivan

America's collective sense of security changed dramatically after terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. Many Americans now feel vulnerable, not only to more attacks, but to new measures meant to prevent terrorism.

Airport security

Travelers in the United States have faced heightened security at airports for the past 10 years.

Some measures still stir controversy, but for traveler Bob Dubois, they are necessary.

"I think it's something that we need in this day and economy as it is right now with what's going on," Dubois said. "You never know what's going to happen and the people that are out there, and I think that we need to do this."

Oscar Del Castillo agrees the new measures are needed.

"A few procedures, I'm not entirely pleased with, such as the full-body scans," he says. "However, I understand their importance."

Transportation Security Administration worker Shane Quintard , right, examines an unidentified passenger's items at a security checkpoint at Boston Logan International Airport (AP file photo)
AP photo

Profiling


Ameena Mirza Qazi, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, complains that the heightened procedures target observant Muslims.

"When I travel, I get pulled over almost every single time I go through security for extra pat-downs because of my head scarf," she says.

Although transportation security officials say they do not specifically target Muslims, many Muslims say they suffer discrimination.  Last year, a mosque near San Diego faced neighborhood protests over its plans to expand.

Civil rights advocates sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year for allegedly using informants to monitor Muslims.  FBI officials would not comment, but they say they take action only when they suspect criminal behavior and that agents operate under strict guidelines.

Ahilan Arulanantham of the American Civil Liberties Union says those guidelines are too broad and intrusive. He says the nation's founding fathers lived in a time of turmoil after the revolutionary war and intended that basic rights enshrined in the constitution be sacrosanct.

"And the rules that they created were designed to protect us and strike that balance even during that time," Arulanantham explains.

Real threat

Steven Martinez of the FBI's Los Angeles office says the United States remains committed to an open society, but the risk of terrorism is real.

"If we want to maintain that sense of freedom, we’re always going to have vulnerabilities in places where people gather - theme parks, movie theaters, shopping malls," notes Martinez. "Those present opportunities for our adversaries and those are very, very difficult to secure."

Security expert Erroll Southers of the University of Southern California says Americans need to face, and manage, the new risks.

"The same as they're told about the challenges we have with earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes," Southers says. "This is a disaster of a man-enabled paradigm, so we should be educating them on what the real threats are. And then second, we should make sure they understand how they can help."

Southers says tips from the public are crucial in stopping terrorists, but effective security measures still must respect the rights of Americans. Finding the right balance is the hard part.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid