Reducing terrorism is not an easy feat. Methods to identify and manage potential terrorism tend to fall along a continuum from the general to the specific. General measures are those in which many people are affected, such as screening of large numbers of people and their belongings to detect plans or material related to terrorism. This typically takes place at airports, train stations, and immigration/customs services. Similarly, the U.S. government has accessed all cell phone records. More specific methods to identify and manage potential terrorism have included monitoring “chatter” that consists of communication among possible terrorists. Forms of profiling have also been conducted to examine personal and ecological aspects of potential terrorist suspects or terrorist-prone regions. In very specific cases, relevant terrorist-related data are gathered based on interviews with known or suspected terrorists.
Some of the methods to reduce terrorism might infringe upon citizens’ civil rights to freedom and privacy. In the United States, the following constitutional amendments are some of the specific civil rights afforded citizens that may conflict with methods to reduce terrorism:
Amendment I, Free speech and freedom of religion: Does the government have the right to stockpile and monitor cellphone, internet, or other forms of communication among its citizens? Can people of a certain religion be forced to give up their religion or face strict government control?
Amendment IV, Freedom from unreasonable searches or seizure of property by legal authorities: Can the government search or confiscate property without due process?
Amendment V, Due process that consists of having a predictable form of justice in which citizens are formally accused of potential crimes through specified legal procedures that allow them to view evidence against them and argue against the charges: Can certain people have their activities and whereabouts monitored and recorded without due process?
Amendment XIV, Rights of U.S. citizens are further defined and include due process and rights not to be deprived of “life, liberty, property” without due cause: Can citizens be questioned or detained by legal authorities without due cause? (U.S. Senate, n.d.)