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Alfredo Gonzalez
HIST-2710
Ted Moore
December 13, 2016

Final Essay Exam -

A Glimpse into National Security and the High Cost of


American Freedom

During the 2008 dedication of the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial


in Arlington Virginia, former republican president George W. Bush said
in his address One of the worst days in Americas history saw some of
the bravest acts in American history. Well always honor the heroes of
9/11. And here at this hollowed place, we pledge that we will never
forget their sacrifice. This was of course in reference to the fallen
heroes (servicemen, emergency responders, and civilians alike) of the
2001 terrorist attacks. The dedication ceremony was solemn and was
also, perhaps unintentionally, a conspicuous reminder of the very real
threat that terrorism poses against the integrity of the United States. In
the months and later years following the 9/11 attacks, countless laws
were passed to ensure that an act of terror of like magnitude never
again be repeated against the United States. Most notable was the USA
PATRIOT Act, a set of laws that would grant government authorities the

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intelligence resources to fight terror domestically and internationally in
the hopes of intercepting any future attack and eradicating threats
early on by any means necessary. The Act was passed by a 98-1
Senate vote and 357-66 vote in the House of Representatives. The
means by which government authorities would deliver on their mission
to serve and protect was through restricting certain freedoms of the
people in order to enhance national security. Some of these included
active vigilance and surveillance of private means of electronic
communication, electronic transactions, and business records,
amongst other information1 (Horowitz, Richard. Summary of Key
Sections of the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Print. Pg. 1). All these changes
in the aftermath of the attacks brought light to an age-old dilemma
involving the juxtaposition of freedom and security. The relationship
between freedom and security, both economic and physical, exists on
the same plane but is inversely proportional. The need for security
however, will always far outweigh the need for freedom; security is
vital whereas freedom is merely an overvalued popular commodity.

The quid pro quo between freedom and security is polarizing by nature.
And as stated above is inversely proportional meaning that any

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept
and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, otherwise known as the USA PATRIOT Act or simply
Patriot Act is a 132 page public law document containing hundreds of sections and provisions.
The selection on electronic communication and business is but a small fraction of the
legislation found in the bill.

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increase in one factor would represent a decrease in the other, this
concept holds universal to any society. The idea that an individual
would willingly give up personal freedom in exchange for social
benefits and security is the basic idea behind a theory in political
philosophy developed in the 18th century known as the political or
social contract. Swiss philosopher and political theorist Jean Jacques
Rousseau (whos work perfectly embodies the zeitgeist of the Age of
the Enlightenment) wrote: Now, as men cannot engender new forces,
but can only unite and direct those which exist, they have no other
means of preservation than to form by aggregation a sum of forces
which could prevail against resistance a form of association which
shall defend and protect with the public force the person and property
of each associate, and by means of which each, uniting with all shall
obey however only himself, and remain as free as before. (Rousseau,
Jean-Jacques. The Social Contract (1762). Print. Chapter VI, Pg. 105)
American society, both modern and antebellum is no exception to this
social contract. To further explain this concept renowned American
author and security technology expert Bruce Schneier said, in his 2011
TED talk at Pennsylvania State University: If you look at security from
economic terms, its a trade off. Every time you get security, youre
always trading off something else whether this is a personalor a
national decisionyoure going to trade off something, either money
or time, convenience, capabilities, maybe fundamental liberties. And

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the question to ask when you look at security is not whether this
makes us safer, but whether its worth the trade-off. (Schneier, Bruce.
The Security Mirage. Conference. TEDx PSU 2011)

One would not be erroneous in noting that the vehement opinion and
actions of many Americans in regards to freedom over security conflict
with the reality of what is needed in order to maintain a functioning
society. Freedom is highly valued, perhaps even overvalued, while
security is often overlooked and sometimes even thought to be an
infringement of unalienable rights as stated by the Constitution.
Security is often taken for granted and freedom resonates in its place,
but of what good is freedom if the security to life is absent? Freedom is
of no use to anyone that for lack of security has lost life [aka is
deceased]. To aid the reader in further understanding the logic behind
this, the following metaphor uses an intrinsic biological need to
illustrate the phenomenon. When an individual is not faced with
hunger he or she does not seek food but rather focuses his time,
energy, and resources in the pursuit of other fulfillments. When hunger
strikes however, food becomes a priority and the individual or
organism will zealously seek nourishment to preserve his life at which
point all other endeavors become secondary. As hunger intensifies, the
organism will become desperate for survival and will willingly renounce
all civil liberties for the opportunity to continue to exist and be saved

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from demise. Likewise when security is not compromised one would be
inclined to defend civil liberties and rights as the most important
components of an effective, just, and successful society; but when a
nation is faced with an immanent threat, under attack, or in a state
where security and sovereignty have been compromised, the people
will desperately turn to their government for protection and soon learn
that security is vital whereas freedom is not.

The evidence provided does not morally justify government overreach;


it simply demonstrates that security is of higher inherent value than
freedom. In a journal study conducted by Michigan State University
titled Civil Liberties vs. Security: Public Opinion in the Context of
Terrorist Attacks on America, Darren W. Davis and Brian D. Silver
(authors of the journal) state and provide ample evidence to support
the following: We find that the greater peoples sense of threat, the
lower their support for civil liberties. This effect interacts, however,
with trust in government. The lower peoples trust in government, the
less willing they are to trade off civil liberties for security, regardless of
their level of threat. (Davis, Darren W. & Silver, Brian D. . Civil
Liberties vs. Security: Public Opinion in the Context of Terrorist Attacks
on America (2004). Midwest Political Science Association. Print. Pg. 28).

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Throughout [modern] American history it has been observed time and
time again the powers of government and people, as well as the
correlation between safety and freedom and the way these elements
interact (long before the attacks of 9/11). It is plausible and at times
almost certain that governments with too much power will overstep
their constitutional boundaries in the name of national security and for
the preservation of national interests or power. These acts too should
be condemned and can be unwarranted. A prime example of said
violation of the fundamental rights of American constituents in the
name of protection was the Espionage Act of 1917 and the
consequent Sedition Act of 1918 (not to be confused with the Alien
and Sedition Act of 1978, though similar in legislative nature), a legal
extension of the former.

The Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 and 1918 were laws that, as
defined by doctorate professor, author, and historian Eric Foner, limited
criticism of government leaders and policies by imposing fines 2 and
prison terms3 to those who opposed American participation in the First
World War (Foner, Eric. Give me Liberty, an American History, vol. 2.
New York. Norton & Company. Print. Pg. A-48).

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Fine up to $10,000 USD [$185,090 adjusted for 2016 inflation].

Up to 20 years of incarceration according to: Nash, Jeffrey, Howe, Frederick, Davis, Winkler,
Mires, and Pestana. The American People, Creating a Nation and a Society, vol. 2. Boston.
Pearson. Print. Chapter 20, pg. 658

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The act also granted the United States government the power to
censor media and intercept mail communication; two acts that
deliberately acted against the Constitutional Bill of Rights (first
amendment). During the years that the acts were enforced multiple
infringements of constitutional rights took place, Hispanic minorities
were harassed by authorities and law enforcement agencies for
allegedly being pro-German, University professors across multiple
states were being censored or discharged for questioning the validity
of the new laws, and most famous perhaps, was the trial and
conviction of former socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs,
who said in his statement to the court before his sentencing in 1918:
My purpose was to have the people understandthe social system in
which we live and to prepare them to changeby peaceable and
orderly means. I have never advocated violence. I have always
believed in education, in intelligence, in enlightenment; and I have
always made my appeal to reason and to the conscience of the
peopleI believe in the right of free speech, in war as well as in
peace. In total over two thousand people were prosecuted and over
half of those, convicted under the Espionage and Seditions acts. (Nash,
Jeffrey, Howe, Frederick, Davis, Winkler, Mires, Pestana. The American
People, Creating a Nation and a Society, vol. 2. Boston. Pearson. Print.
Chapter 20, pg. 657). The Espionage and Sedition Acts were not the
first, nor would be the last time government overreach would

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compromise the freedom of thousand of Americans other examples
include: the House of Un-American Activities Committee [HUAC], the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the USA Patriot Act, Guantanamo
Bay Detention Camp, Military Drone Regulation and Rules of
Engagement, the list goes on.

In conclusion, with all the evidence provided it seems that the sensible
solution to find a balance between freedom and physical and economic
security, is for the American people to be educated and recognize the
interrelation of the two polarizing concepts as well as accept the status
quo as always changing; rising and falling like ocean tides. In times of
distress people may have to give up certain freedoms for the
preservation of national security but it is also crucial that the
government give freedom and civil liberties to the people during times
of economic prosperity and peace. Security should always be a priority
but should not neglect the peoples need for opportunity and selffulfillment or critical thinking and rational decision-making.
Paradoxically, the price of freedom may at times be too high to pay in
order to preserve said freedom.