Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


L. Sandy Maisel

Second Advisor

Cal Mackenzie


The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 shocked the American security apparatus, placing greater pressure on the security actions of the U.S. government, particularly regarding information gathering. Laying out a framework that examines different notions of national security and privacy, this paper examine three case studies to illustrate the role of the government and the inherent friction between privacy and security that increased information gathering inherently creates. The shifting balance between the two variables forces us to reexamine how we want our government to protect us and what we will sacrifice in order to ensure our own well being. With the government’s actions after 9/11, intelligence agencies admittedly sacrificed some individual privacy in order to ensure national security. Must we, as Americans, give up some of our civil liberties in the age of metadata and cloud technology to ensure our security? Or, do the government’s actions represent an unwarranted and unnecessary violation of our privacy? By examining the government’s actions leading up to, immediately following, and extending past 9/11, this paper seeks to explore these questions and contextualize the evolution of the government’s national security strategy and the subsequent implications for America moving forward in the 21st century.


National Security, Privacy, surveillance, 9/11, NSA, Snowden, Terrorist Surveillance Program

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