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This Critical Debate is part of a Debate Comparison:

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Duration
Less than 30 minutes
Topic(s)
  • National Security
  • Politics
  • War
Grade(s)
  • 9-12
  • College/University

Looking Back: 9/11 Connections

Use the artifact viewer to explore the image below and discuss the following questions:

  • What happened/is happening in this image? What story does it tell?
  • How is this image connected to the events of Sept. 11, 2001?
  • How could you use this image to make an argument about the state of freedom in the U.S.? About national security?

What would you do if you were asked to use your freedoms of speech and political association to help a designated terrorist organization?

You work for a U.S. organization dedicated to protecting human rights and promoting peaceful resolution of armed conflict. Your organization is recognized by the United Nations.

You wish to advise a foreign group about how to abandon violence and bring its grievances before the United Nations. However, a 1996 law makes it a federal crime to provide “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization” and the U.S. government has formally designated this foreign group as a terrorist organization. In addition, in 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress updated the definition of material support to include expert advice.

What do you do?

  1. Help the group.

    It’s not up to you to monitor all of its activities. Challenge the law, if necessary.

  2. Help, but be careful to limit your support to peaceful humanitarian projects.

    By doing this, you can help bring about international peace and promote “rule of law.”

  3. Do not help the group at all.

    Providing advice gives the group legitimacy and is illegal.

  4. Something else.

    Explain your idea.

  • Should giving written or spoken advice about how to bring a group’s political grievances to the United Nations count as “material support”? How is giving advice different from giving money or supplies?
  • Could advising this group potentially change them from being a terrorist organization into something more peaceful? If so, how?
  • Could advising this group potentially lead to new conflicts and/or national security risks? Why or why not?
  • Can you be sure the group will interpret and use your advice for peaceful purposes?

Have students use the Analyzing Evidence and Making Your Argument handouts to collect and organize additional information about the case, then form an argument supported by evidence. Give groups 30 minutes to prepare, or assign as homework. (Note: Students may wish to organize their sources and evidence using a spreadsheet, such as Google Sheets.)

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