Chapter 15: Classroom Activity 1

The Impact of Post 9/11 Policies: PEOPLE TELL THEIR STORIES

This lesson will help students think about the impact and effectiveness of post 9/11 government actions, and where the balance should be between security and rights.

  1. Print out the six narrative statements that tell personal stories that have actually happened since 9/11.  Make sure the class is aware that these people are real, and the statements are based on real life situations. 
  2. Ask for six volunteers from the class.  Give each student a narrative statement to read aloud to the class.
  3. After each student has finished reading the statement, ask leading questions that keep the student "in character."  Keep the dialogue going with the student for a few minutes, trying to draw out his or her impressions of the situation faced by the person. 

    Suggestions for the kind of questions you could ask:

    Dr. Steven Kurtz: 
    "You must have been in a horrible state of shock that morning. Were you amazed when you were arrested?"

    "Why do you think the government is still going after you?"

    Attorney Frank Dunham:
    "Did you ever think as a public defender you would get a case like this?"

    "Are you surprised that the government would hold American citizens in prison without access to lawyers and the courts?  Where does that leave the Bill of Rights?"

    Sami al-Hussayen:
    "What were your feelings when that huge police force arrived at your door?"

    "Did you expect the jury to acquit you of terrorism charges?  Were you surprised when they did?"

    Attorney Brandon Mayfield:
    "Do you think they targeted you because you are a Muslim?"

    "What do you think would have happened to you if the Spanish police hadn't intervened?"

    Barbara Bailey:
    "You seem to think that people who use libraries should not be spied on without suspicion of wrongdoing – is that right?"

    "Can you understand why the FBI wouldn't want you talking about their visit? And why the government wouldn't want you testifying before Congress?"

  1. Then bring the entire class into the discussion.   Get student feedback on what they have heard and learned.  Where would they draw the line between protecting national security and protecting rights? 

For more on Barbara Bailey:

For more on Steve Kurtz:

For more on Brandon Mayfield:

For more on Frank Dunham/Yaser Hamdi:

For more on Andrew Mandell:

For more on Sami al-Hussayen:

Chapter 15: Classroom Activity 2

Is the Bill of Rights out of date?

  1. Ask students to read about the USA PATRIOT Act and the material contained in this chapter.
  2. Give students copies of the Bill of Rights.
  3. Discuss which amendments have been most affected by post 9/11 actions.  
  4. Ask them to write a 100-word editorial that does one of the following:5. 

    a.) condemns the way the Bill of Rights has been undermined by government actions undertaken in the name of "national security."

    b.) explains that at times of crisis, the government has no choice but to alter the balance between public safety and preserving civil liberties.

  5. Email us the best editorials produced by your class for publication on
  6. Suggest they redraft the Bill of Rights for the post 9/11 era. 


Should there be "national security exceptions" to the Bill of Rights, especially since the "war on terror" may last for generations?

Or should the Bill of Rights remain the same, and be enforced?

Copyright 2006, ACLU of Massachusetts