Security, But At What Cost? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     After September 11, measures were taken to preventsuch a tragedy from happening again. In the beginning, airports and importantbuildings were heavily guarded while the government researched the terrorists andthe events leading up to the attacks. With thousands dead, it was plausible thatthe U.S. take precautions.

Soon after September 11, Attorney General JohnAshcroft asked Congress for more powers that he claimed would help stopterrorism. Six weeks later an anti-terrorism bill called the USA Patriot Act waspassed, which expanded the meaning of terrorism and allowed government officialsto view personal records in the name of homeland security. The movies you rentand the books you borrow from a library are activities that used to be completelyconfidential but are now accessible if the government suspects you are a threatto the nation. The right to privacy will evaporate as federal workers siftthrough our email and the Justice Department taps into phone lines. In the areaof business security, some privately owned businesses can submit criticalinfrastructure information in return for protection from lawsuits in health,safety or environmental pollution.

The rights guaranteed by ourforefathers are being ignored in the name of security. But the September 11attacks were more due to improper coordination between the CIA and the FBI ratherthan a lack of information gathering. Agencies had warned of a

massiveterrorist attack weeks before 9/11 yet did not take action.

One goal ofthe Patriot Act is to stop local terrorism. To do this, the government createdthe Department of Homeland Security. Its purpose is to increase the communicationbetween the FBI and CIA. According to David Walker, comptroller of the GeneralAccounting Office, "It's going to take years in order to get this departmentfully integrated." The result may be wasted money with no significantimprovement in intelligence sharing between the two agencies for years tocome.

Even with a new branch to staff, the Administration plans to replaceover 800,000 government workers with private contractors. Already every airportscreener in the country who lacks U.S. citizenship has been laid off. How canthis be justified when most of the terrorist acts before September 11 were causedby people born in this country? Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber were homegrownextremists. Countries that have dealt with terrorism long before the U.S. had tohaven't taken such actions.

Instead of making multiple changes for homesecurity purposes, only one truly needs to be made: The government shouldconcentrate on combining the FBI and CIA into one agency under tough leadership.If this is achieved, the country will get the security it needs, withoutcitizens having to give up basic rights.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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