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Under what conditions has the government altered its position toward American civil liberties?

e.g. war-time, terrorist attacks or threats)?

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At what time in the history of the United States are your talking?
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After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, many feel that American citizens' civil liberties were infringed upon due to The Patriot Act, which gave the government greater access to people's phone calls, for example. This was done to attempt to intercept any secret plots by terrorists that may have been discussed over the phone.