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Striking a Balance: Erosion of Civil Liberties vs. National Security

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Monday, May 07, 2012 6:30PM - 8:00PM

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The World Affairs Council’s International Forum (IF) is proud to present a monthly discussion group series: Global Town Hall. The discussion group is designed to allow IF and Council members to exchange opinions in a friendly, conversational forum while hearing a diversity of perspectives on complex global issues.

This month's topic - Striking a Balance: Erosion of Civil Liberties vs. National Security

In December of last year, Congress passed a bill giving the government the right to detain anyone (even US citizens) upon the suspicion of being linked to terrorism without due process. This bill, along with the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and died in Yemen fighting for al Qaeda, has launched a debate about what the US government is allowed to do by the constitution to fight terrorism.

Most recently, an American citizen who alleges that he was detained and tortured overseas at the behest of the US government has recently filed for political asylum in Sweden.

Join us for our monthly Global Town Hall to discuss the recent developments in the balance between protecting our civil liberties and keep the US safe.

Discussion Questions:
- How far should the US government go in protecting US soil?
- Do you think this new law effectively changes anything, or it does simply codify existing practices?
- Was it constitutionally legal for Obama to target the US born Anwar al-Awlaki?
- Are there any “legal” and “democratic” tools to fight against Al Qaeda terrorists? Can governments treat terrorists the same way than “ordinary” citizens?
- Do the indefinite detentions of alleged terrorists, including American citizens, improve the national security? Or are they a threat to the individual rights?

Articles:
"Military given go-ahead to detain US terrorist suspects without trial", The Guardian, December 15, 2011 

"The Power to Kill", The New York Times, March 10, 2012

"Was Obama Right to Kill Awlaki?", The Daily Beast, September 30, 2011

"What if George W. Bush had done that?", Politico, March 13, 2012

"Killing U.S.-born terrorists abroad endangers all Americans", Washington Post, March 9, 2012

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