by Us History, Pittsburg High School

This WebQuest is designed to help you pick your topic for the Unit 4 research paper on National Security vs. Civil Liberties. This investigation will allow you to read about laws/policies established by the US government and determine their limitations at creating both a secure and free nation.


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 Civil Liberties vs. National Security 

The Bill of Rights included in the Constitution of the United States is considered one of the most important additions we as a nation have added to the world.  With this document our founders established protections for the people of the U.S. from the government, and it has been the basis for many other nations' constitutions and bill of rights.  

Throughout the history of the U.S., though, this document has been tested many times, most often under the pretense of protecting our nation, aka "national security".  The government's argument is based on the idea that in order to make sure that our nation is safe and that we are all protected, they may have to impede on our civil liberties (those rights protected in the Bill of Rights).  We as a nation have been asked to do this many times before:

These are only a few of the instances where this limitation of our civil liberties has occurred throughout our short history.  The question though is, should we as citizens of the United States of America be required to give up our basic rights in order to feel safe?  Is this something we have to do in order to truly protect ourselves in our globalized world?  Is there a way to find a balance between freedom and security that we can all agree on?


Terms to know:

National Security - a concept that a government should protect the state and its citizens against all kind of "national" crises through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, and so on.

Civil Liberties - personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation without due process – such as the Bill of Rights 

Globalization - a process of interaction among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, driven by trade and information sharing.