The issue of civil liberties during wartime is as crucial today as it was during the Civil War. The detention of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay prison has led to endless debate and confusing equivocation regarding the rights of detainees and civil liberties during war time. The confusion is nothing new. Curbing civil liberties during war time is something the United States experienced not only in the Civil War, but also in World Wars One and Two. Is the introduction of internal securities measures curbing civil liberties ever justified? Is it necessary? Civil War historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Mark Neely took some time to answer these questions for the House Divided project at our June 13th workshop.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative political think-tank, examines Lincoln’s restrictions of civil liberties during the War. The Hon. Frank J. Williams uses his article to examine also the restriction of civil liberties enacted by the Bush Administration as a part of the War on Terror. Williams acknowledges the unique situation of the rebellion faced by the Federal government during the 1860s, and draws a parallel between the uniqueness of that era and that of our current war.