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Do Post 9/11 securities outweigh the losses of personal freedom?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/6/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 679 times Debate No: 62740
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




Firstly, I am researching this topic in a debate for school in a week, where I am pro post 9/11 security measures. I would like to see what it would be like to be on the opposing side so that I can better prepare for rebuttal. I am hoping for a great debate with whoever my opponent is!

My first argument will focus on the TSA which arose right after 9/11. Firstly I would say that there is too much money being wasted on security measures, as TSA has cost the nation's taxpayers over 1 trillion dollars since 9/11, and they really aren't making that much of an impact. There have been a few other bombs brought into airports that have gone unnoticed by TSA.

The underwear bomber on Christmas in 2009, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, brought a bomb sewn to his underwear on a plane headed to Detroit from Amsterdam. It was not TSA that caught the man, it was a passenger, Jasper Schuringa, who tackled Abdul.

At Newark Airport on February 25, 2013, an undercover federal agent was cleared to board a commercial flight with a fake bomb. He had a simulated IED in his pants, but was not caught. The "bomber" was part of a 4 man "Red Team" that posed as ticketed passengers at Newark. (Source: United States Department of Homeland Security)

Are Americans' hard earned tax dollars going to the right location, and does the lack of freedom getting on an airplane justified by the TSA's incompetence and invasion of personal space during security checks?


Let’s begin with history and budget. U.S. airport passenger screening began in 1971 in response to a rash of hijackings, including a spectacular incident where the hijacker attempted to parachute from the aircraft. In the early years, this consisted of walking through a metal detector and X-ray of carry-on bags. Screening was contracted out to private security guard companies free to hire anyone without a felony background and pay them as little as the job market would bear. As you know, September 11 changed all this.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now handles airport screening but a number of other tasks as well, such as screening domestic train traffic and freight. The $1 trillion cumulative budget you’re thinking of is not for the TSA, but for the larger Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that includes the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, FEMA, and a number of other agencies as well as the TSA. (Budget in Brief, pp. 21, 23: ). The TSA makes up only 13% of DHS spending. A good guess is that about $70 billion has been spent on airport screening since 2002.

The fake bomb you mention was part of a performance audit of TSA. It’s good these audits are done. But TSA screens 50 to 70 million passengers every month (DOT figures: ); only a few hundred turn out to be carrying weapons of any kind, usually sharps or handguns but almost never bombs. It’s not surprising the fake bomb made it through. Whatever security hole it revealed has been patched; a second attempt to carry a bomb using the same ruse is less likely to work now.

I’ve omitted other post 9/11 issues such as the expansion of police powers because that would take too much space to argue about. The airport measures against terrorism are certainly worth the money spent, however.

Debate Round No. 1


The Patriot Act:

The Patriot Act was originally used to allow investigators to have greater warrant to search and investigate those that were thought to be committing acts of terror. ultimately, the surveillance was greatly increased by the Patriot Act, and that is now hindering Americans today. Because of the Patriot Act, the government can tap into your cell phone, view your engine search history, and conduct other privacy violations.

The Patriot Act gives the FBI investigation rights which are quite frankly unfair to American Citizens. "The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for "probable cause" that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. All the government needs to do is make the broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation (

The Patriot Act also violates the first and fourth Amendments. First and foremost, it violates the fourth Amendment, which states that cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime. It also violates the fourth Amendment because it fails to provide notice - even after the fact - to persons whose privacy has been compromised. Notice is also a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. It violates the first Amendment by prohibiting the recipients of search orders from telling others about those orders, even where there is no real need for secrecy, and also for effectively authorizing the FBI to launch investigations of American citizens in part for exercising their freedom of speech (

Thus, the Patriot Act is an Unconstitutional violation of personal freedoms.


I will assume we agree that TSA screening at airports is settled as you have not contested it further. Unfortunately I can't argue on constitutional law, a subject well beyond my expertise. The USA Patriot Act has not been overturned by the Supreme Court, notwithstanding successful lower court challenges such as Doe v. Ashcroft in New York’s Southern District against National Security Letters that allowed certain warrantless FBI searches. Constitutionality, however, is a tangential issue—the debate question is whether the lost liberty is balanced by improved public safety.

Instead, I will ask how much significance the law has had for most citizens. I think very little. The use of FBI police powers, for instance, is constrained by the agency’s manpower. They simply can’t tap phones at random and, while the FBI indeed sometimes abuses its power, still it must concentrate on cases of interest to them. In the 1960s Martin Luther King was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover. By now, except where economically injured parties exist, such as in animal liberation, the FBI has probably concluded that most youth activism is harmless. With no direct proof I infer this because September 11 and attempts at repeating it do constitute real threats likely to consume the FBI’s energies.

In practice, the FBI can gain at most only dates and phone numbers for past calls via phone company searches. The Section 215 your ACLU source cites covers library records—but the San Francisco Public Library ( ) says it no longer keeps patron history beyond items currently out. I suspect most Libraries, belonging to a group that doesn’t like Patriot, have followed suit.

Like most citizens, I don’t relish loss of freedom. Perhaps laws should be modified to lessen grants to police. Yet a hiatus in terror plots from good counterintelligence would be the development most likely to make reconsideration of Patriot feasible. Until then, it's needed.
Debate Round No. 2


I have nothing else... looks like we have a winner of this debate!

Any other evidence that could help me for my debate in school?

Thanks again for all of the help!


You're as likely good on that as I am...USA Patriot will probably be the sticker point more than TSA, because airport screens are accepted but FBI intrusion isn't.

You may want to look at what Google has done to resist NSA spying. It's locked up its servers and tries to encrypt everything now. I don't know what the best source on that is, you might try Harper's Magazine,

good luck !
Debate Round No. 3


dwill_0597 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by dwill_0597 2 years ago
Yes Faustianjustice, I am saying that the loss to personal freedoms outweigh the benefits of security.
Posted by Big_Nick 2 years ago
I would love to take up this debate with you, and help you out, but I am strongly against the post 9/11 "security measurements," as I don't feel they have done anything to make us safer and trample way to many of our civil liberties. As such, I don't think I could form a decent argument to support this debate.
Posted by FaustianJustice 2 years ago
So I can assure myself before I accept, you are taking the position that the loss of freedom does outweigh the current security, correct?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture