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Are Constitutional Liberties At Risk?

Are Constitutional Liberties At Risk?As the government increases its focus on security measures, Tufts experts say constitutional liberties may be undermined.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.20.01] In the days since last week's attacks, federal, state and local authorities have begun a massive investigation, hoping to learn more about the terrorist cells believed responsible. Already, scores of people have been detained or arrested, evidence seized and homes and businesses searched. As U.S. authorities continue to make security a top priority nationwide, experts at Tufts say constitutional liberties may be at risk.

"We have crossed a tremendous threshold," Tufts' Richard Shultz told National Public Radio. "Just think about the questions that are going to be asked about domestic security -- a very sensitive subject because that cuts right into the area of our own rights."

According to Shultz -- director of international security studies at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy -- Tuesday's attacks may lead to the erosion of rights within the United States.

"Shultz says he foresees a clash between America's much-cherished constitutional freedoms and a new appetite for security," reported London's Financial Times.

The ongoing federal investigation may be the start, he said.

"[The Tufts expert] thinks law enforcement organizations will be given new powers of search and surveillance to investigate the attacks," the newspaper reported. Already, the FBI has reportedly asked e-mail companies for access to their networks.

Michele Malvesti agrees with Shultz.

A former terrorism analyst at the Pentagon, Malvesti is a student at Tufts' Fletcher School. She says that while security will be "beefed up," it is almost impossible to ensure that no further terrorist attacks will occur.

"Unfortunately, we are not going to prevent terrorists willing to kill themselves," she told The National Journal. "We can minimize the threat, though."

But, she said, the U.S. must be sure it balances security measures with individual constitutional rights.

"We do not want to turn our country into an armed fortress," she said.

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