One of the most significant side effects of 9/11 is how international travel has been impacted. The ability for a variety of people around the word to meet, recreate, and conduct business was a vital and robust part of economic and cultural exchange. The delays and headaches of travel since that fateful day have been well documented, and the fallout continues.

The United States, in an effort to better track the comings and goings of foreign visitors recently implemented a program to fingerprint and photograph many who enter the country with a visa.

Despite significant concerns, the travel industry appears to be mollified that the system works well. Logistically most were pleased “the problems were minimal and that the procedure added perhaps a minute at most to immigration processing.”

As always in matters such as these, some wonder if the delicate balance between liberty and security was tipped in a dire direction. Also cause for concern is how this might impact America’s perception by other nations. Brazil recently began a retaliatory fingerprinting program aimed at American tourists entering their country. The program is being lobbied against heavily by Rio and other tourist-centric Brazilian cities. Ironically proving once again how desperately people thirst for unfettered travel.


America’s efforts to bring terror suspects to trial has suffered some embarrassing setbacks in recent weeks. The decision to try some suspects in special military tribunals and other’s in federal courtrooms has been perceived by some to be unfair or unjust and certainly has the taint of arbitrariness. The conundrum, as Thomas Powers writes, is that there is a need for openness and due process that is at odds with the premium placed on secrecy.

Ordinary criminal courts are not designed for trying terrorism suspects. As a practical matter, they do not routinely provide the kind of security for witnesses, judges, and jurors that is required where terrorist attack and reprisal are a concern. More important, they cannot meet the need for secrecy that may arise from the use of sensitive testimony derived from confidential sources.

He suggests that a third way should be embarked upon, federal terrorism courts.

To deal with terrorism cases that could be handled under the ordinary criminal law (as were, for example, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, and the case of Zacarias Moussaoui), Congress should create a new specialized court. This terrorism court would incorporate special security measures, protect the secrecy of sensitive information and sources, and make provision in its evidentiary rules for the peculiar situations arising from operations on a battlefield or its equivalent. Terror suspects should know the charges against them, have access to attorneys (specially trained, with the proper security clearances), and enjoy a right of appeal. To ensure independence from executive branch influence, federal judges with lifetime appointments should fill the bench. A terrorism court would provide a framework for the emergence of a body of precedent and the development of a cadre of specially trained expert judges and lawyers. There is some precedent for a roughly similar arrangement in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, created in 1978 and expanded under the Patriot Act.

If the rule of law is to be used to combat the horrors of terrorism is there a way to balance the need for secrecy with the desire for justice?