National Security

chklt_natsec_100: National Security

Throughout this country's history, national security has often been used as a pretext for massive violations of individual rights. In the name of national security, President Jefferson countenanced internment camps for political dissidents; President Wilson authorized the round-up and deportation of thousands of foreign-born suspected "radicals" during the Palmer Raids; and President Franklin Roosevelt interned 120,000 Japanese Americans. The Cold War era brought loyalty oaths, blacklisting and travel restrictions; the Vietnam War era saw the government's attempt to censor the "Pentagon Papers". None of these measures were actually necessary to preserve national security; all of them violated civil liberties.

Since September 11, 2001, our government has introduced countless new security measures as part of its "war on terrorism." Unfortunately, many of these new measures are either ineffective, unnecessary, or both, and they violate civil liberties principles. Whether we are looking at secret arrests and detentions, national ID cards, facial recognition technology, military tribunals, the USA Patriot Act, racial profiling, or the TIPS program encouraging people to spy on one another, we see security measures that will not stop terrorism, but will require us to give up our freedom. Terrorism, by definition, is not just intended to kill and destroy, it is also intended to make us act in fear, and make choices against our best interests. The United States was founded on the principles of freedom, justice and equality; if we give up these beliefs because of fear, then terrorists will have won.

Legal Cases


General Information


Newsletter Articles

Stay Informed

Join the Action Alert e-mail list to stay informed about current issues and campaigns, upcoming events, and how you can get more involved in the fight to protect and expand civil liberties.

ACLU of New Jersey is part of a
network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National