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Discussion Guide

  • Have we done all we can to prevent, or to be prepared for, an attack?
  • How far are we falling short?
  • In our treatment of terrorist suspects, do we risk undermining the values we stand for as a nation?

This In the Balance series on terrorism brings together leaders dealing with almost every aspect of the prevention of, and response to, terrorism. Participants come from the media, the police, the FBI; from public health and hospitals; from city halls, state capitals, Congress and the White House. We challenge them with two scenarios that draw on their experiences, their plans—and their fears.

This series explores some very hard choices facing leaders. But the questions this series raises are not just for the politicians or first responders: They are for you.

As you watch the programs, ask yourself some of these questions: What have you done, and what more can you do, to prepare yourself and your family in case of an attack? What does it mean for an individual to be "vigilant"? Where do you stand on the trade-offs between civil liberties and security, and how have you made your opinions known?

This discussion guide provides a framework for beginning to answer challenging questions such as these. Use the guide as a catalyst for discussion in school, community groups, or at home with your family. As you wrestle with some of the issues raised in the guide, you will examine some of your most deeply held beliefs about the nature of liberty, the responsibilities of government, and the role of an engaged citizenry in national security. You will also learn about how you can get involved with preparedness efforts.

The attacks of September 11 irrevocably changed the nation. But the challenges we face also present an opportunity for each of us to change for the better: to be better prepared, better informed, and better able to help ourselves and each other. It is our hope that the In the Balance programs, discussion guide, and Web site will help each of us as we rise to the challenge.

Discussion Guide PDF