Excerpt: "No Place to Hide"

Across the city and across the country, other civil libertarians braced themselves for the fallout from the attacks. Among them was Morton Halperin, former head of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union and a former national security official in three administrations. Halperin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was personally familiar with government surveillance. While working as a National Security Council staffer in the Nixon administration, Halperin was suspected of leaking information about the secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia. His house was wiretapped by the FBI, and the taps continued for months after he left the government. Now, twenty-four hours after the attacks, he read an email from a member of an online group that had been formed to fight a Clinton administration plan to make publishing classified materials a crime. The writer warned the plan would be reprised. Halperin had been anticipating this moment for years. More than a decade ago, he wrote an essay predicting that terrorism would replace communism as the main justification for domestic surveillance. "I sat and stared at that email for a few minutes and decided that I could not do my regular job, that I had to deal with this," he would say later. Halperin banged out a call to arms on his computer. "There can be no doubt that we will hear calls in the next few days for congress to enact sweeping legislation to deal with terrorism," he wrote in the email to more than two dozen civil libertarians on September 12. "This will include not only the secrecy provision, but also broad authority to conduct electronic and other surveillance and to investigate political groups....We should not wait." Within hours, Jim Dempsey, Marc Rotenberg from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and others had offered their support. Their plan: To build on Halperin's call for legislative restraint while striking a sympathetic note about the victims of the attacks. They started putting together a meeting to sign off on a civil liberties manifesto: "In Defense of Freedom at a Time of Crisis."

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