The Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security

The Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security made a report on Counterterrorism intelligence Capabilities and Performance before the 9/11 attack. According to this report, one of the reasons why this tragedy was not prevented was their less than satisfactory management of resources particularly information that could have be used to forewarn about terrorist intentions. It was reported for example, that the FBI, Homeland Security and the other agencies had very limited ability to watchlist terrorist suspects because of their inadequate access to up-to-date data collected by the different agencies and resources.

In addition, it was found out that the actions of the FBI were more towards the investigation of possible terrorist attacks and less focus was placed on the prevention of such. (Report of Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, 2002). These features harmed the Intelligence Committee’s ability to foresee possible threats of terrorism. Needless to say, foreknowledge of an attack is necessary for its prevention. This necessitates infiltrating communities especially those with significant Arab populations.

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Still, it is important to note that this infiltration is not an act of discrimination but an act based on the great probability that those involved in terrorism would belong to such nationality. There is a greater probablility that sympathizers and supporters of terrorism would belong to the members of the Islamic population than other populations of different religions. The situation demands that efforts never go below minimum if the safety of the population is to be considered. But this infiltration has drawbacks. One, it sacrifices the people’s liberty and privacy.
Two, it creates exaggerated fear among the people especially if the infiltration is most obvious. To minimize the resultant fear among the people, it is necessary that infiltration be done in the most discreet way possible. Clearly, barricading the community with FBIs would not be wise as this would not only cause alarm but would also harmful to the intelligence we are trying to gather. This demands the need for informants and secret agents in the said community, from the said community and in all parts of the community, including mosques.
It is very important that informants who are to be sent are selected among those already living in that population. These people are already knowledgeable about their community; they know the important people; have a personal concern over the safety of their community and would be more knowledgeable in finding important information given the right directions. This limits the time and effort required for information gathering, focusing the officials’ efforts in the interpretation and analysis of data, which speeds the process of investigation.
The result is a more efficient transmission of deeply analyzed information, which is exactly what is needed in the prevention of terrorism according to the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security (2002). But then, using informants, especially if these informants were selected from the same community involved would entail precautions. The danger here lies on the informant’s loyalty. Since the informant is selected from those already living in that population, it would be wise to assume that his loyalty is not absolutely focused towards the progression of the government’s cause.
The possibility that his loyalty would lie towards the side of a guilty individual or the investigated individual, who, like him belongs to the same community cannot be denied. Also it cannot be ascertained whether or not he is in league with the terrorists and is providing them with reports, or probably bound by the same ideals completely against the government’s. In using informants from the involved community, the danger lies in the uncertainty of one’s role: who is pulling the strings and who is the marionette. To manage this danger requires the use of a trusted agent who is beyond the bounds of devotion instilled by community membership.
This agent would act as the control, monitoring the local informants’ actions and reporting any act that signals treachery. This way, it is possible to determine the reliability of the reports given, pinpoint possible leak in intelligence and manipulate information disseminated, to the advantage of the intelligence committee. Definitely, there is more to war ethics than preventing needless deaths through terrorism, that is, the need to protect the people has made it to the point that the liberty and privacy of the people are sacrificed.
Some means of protecting the people such as expanded surveillance and “seize and interrogate anyone (O’Connor, 2006)” is in itself an act that would incise the people’s freedom. Infiltrating the community with informants and agents, may also, in a way, harm community’s liberty and privacy but in a relatively less degree compared to other counterterrorism strategies. According to O’Connor (2006), counterterrorism strategies involving technology and the use of informants are the most effective in terms of ensuring the people’s safety and at the same time limiting disadvantages in people’s liberty.
In any case at this point, all actions aiming to provide people with their deserved safety entail a cost to the people’s civil liberty. 2. In any undertaking, it is very important to stick to the objective. This does not exclude counterterrorism, war against terrorism or any war for that matter. The war against terrorism is not an end in itself but simply a means to another end which are to protect the peoples’ rights to safety and to provide, in the long run, freedom. I intend to base my answers on these premises.
All peoples in the act of terrorism or fighting against the ideals of counterterrorism with the intention of harm would be enemy combatants, without any distinction of citizenship, soldier or non-soldier. This is very different to the status accorded to different people involved in the war on terrorism today where they are classified as enemy combatant, unlawful combatants, prisoners of war or noncombatant, each with different provisions ideally based on International Standards. Whether or not a terrorist is a citizen of Afghanistan, or a citizen of the United States, anyone captured in the act of terrorist violence is considered a terrorist.
Simply being an American does not excuse someone from the punishment accorded to crimes of terrorism and the only possible status, rights and protection I could afford an American citizen in the act of terrorist violence is that of a criminal charged with terrorism. He will be interrogated, given a trial and punished according to law without disregard to his rights as human that is without the use of unnecessary torture. A foreign national engaged in terrorism in the United States would be treated in the same way, based on his actions and without regard to his nationality.
There would be no more and no less harsh treatment given to a foreign national engaged in terrorism compared to an American counterpart. “American national birth should not protect American-born terrorists or fail to protect naturalized citizens (Criticisms of the War of Terrorism, 2006). ” In affording rights, status protection and punishment, giving such special considerations would be a question to the justice system and to the real intent and objective of this undertaking. Counterterrorism is not a matter of nationality and citizenship.
Counterterrorism is defending the peoples’ rights and freedom, a state’s sovereignty against people who disregard such ideals by instilling fear and uncertainty through violence. Double standards should have no place in the justice system. If nationality and citizenship is to be considered, in deciding rights and punishment, then the efforts to realize the underlying goal which is the safety of the people would be for naught. This would not be counterterrorism but a war against a specific community. This can be applied in the case of the American Citizen who fights against American forces.
Again, this is beyond the matter of citizenship. If the American citizen fights against the American forces, he is considered as a threat against the realization of the objectives of the war against terrorism, which is to protect the innocent citizens. The American forces would have no reason not to fight back. Torturing any of these subjects would never be justified in the context of just war. I, personally would say that the torture of these subjects would not be necessary. Eliminating terrorism does not entail the necessity to torture any of the perpetrators of terrorism.
Elimination and torture may be similar in a way that it would provoke the wrath of the enemy but they are different in a way that elimination is exactly what it is—that is, it is supposed to eliminate terrorism by eliminating its perpetrators possibly through conviction and application of just laws. Torture, on the other hand would only provoke the wrath of the enemy without the assurance of eliminating terrorism resulting in possible retaliation. Surely, the means of saving lives of peoples would not be limited on a torture or no torture system.
Solving terrorism with terrorism is not only unjust but also unwise. 3. Disregarding popular theories on just war, let me say that a war that is just is a matter of perspective. To the leaders, all wars are just as long as it promotes the ideals and purpose they try to protect and achieve. To the US and maybe to some, the war against terrorism is just because its purpose is supposedly to protect the lives, safety and liberty of innocent people against terror. To the leaders of the terrorists, they are supposedly protecting a certain ideal.
To some, war is a religious undertaking. Terrorism may be an unpopular act to most but to its supporters, terrorism is their means of fighting for their ideals and achieve their purpose, which they personally believe are just whether others agree or not. But to some people especially those affected negatively by this war, this war would never be possibly just. The families left behind by innocent people who died in the 9/11 attack and those civilians who have become victims of bombs would never think of agreeing to any argument saying that wars could possibly be just.
Those who sympathize with these civilians and those who fear the possibility that someday they would become the unknowing victims of war would think the same way. Theorists, most popular of whom, St. Augustine, conceived of criteria that characterize a just war. The just war theory provided guidelines in determining when a war is just (jus ad bellum), how combatants should fight in war (jus in bello), and when to end a war (Just War, 2006). According to the Jus ad bellum, wars should only be engaged in if there is a just cause.
Just cause means that wars should only be engaged in to correct wrongdoings, as an act of defense against threats to freedom, rights and sovereignty. The cause is said to be just if it is an act to resist aggression (Orend, 2005). Right intention is also necessary in a just war. Engaging in war for material gains is outside the scope of right intention. In general, intention should always be to defend or correct suffered wrong doings (Orend, 2005). The proportionality and last resort states that gains should always outweigh the casualties incurred and wars should only be engaged in if all other possible means have been exhausted to no avail.
Jus ad bellum also emphasizes the importance of legitimate authority and the probability of success. War should only be engaged in if the chance of success is high because doing otherwise would undermine the theory of proportionality, also one criterion in considering a war as a just war (Orend, 2005). In engaging in a just war, combatants are expected to act in a way that violence and casualties are restrained and attempts to recognize human rights of both allies and enemies are made.
According to the Jus in bello, combatants of a just war are expected to apply the principle of discrimination in which war is directed only to the perpetrators of wrong and definitely not to civilians. Similar to the Jus ad bellum, in the Jus in bello, proportionality is expected. In this case, the force to be implemented must be justified when compared to the problem that occurred and the possible good outcome. The more civilian casualties, the more the war being waged are questionable (Just War, 2006).
The Jus in bello also preaches the use of minimum force, respect for prisoners of war, and derides the use of torture (Orend, 2005). In the same way, in the just war theory, wars should be terminated only with just cause: if both parties are willing to negotiate and violations made by the aggressor have already been recognized and vindicated; right intention, discrimination, proportionality and public declaration and authority (Orend, 2005). Fighting terrorism would cease to be just if it has lost the purpose and ideals which are its foundations.
That is, if fighting terrorism has become a mere machination for purposes other than the ideals it stands for. Fighting terrorism would cease to be just if it resorted to unnecessary ways; if it violates human rights; if it in itself resorted to terrorism which is the exact ideal it is supposed to stand against. Fighting terrorism would cease to be just if it has become an act against the principles proposed by the just war theory. Others assert that the presence of any civilian deaths would define an unjust war (Bell, 2006).
If all these would classify wars as unjust, then the impossibility of a just war is definite especially when applied to the war on terrorism. Still, criticisms of the just war theory stresses the inapplicability of the just war theory in the present real wars, such as today’s war on terrorism which is unconventional one. When fighting terrorist groups such as the Al Qaeda, the conventional guidelines for war become obsolete. Therefore, “just war” has to be redefined (Bell, 2006). 4. Schools, colleges, universities, the press and some institutions have the power to carry out or instill ideas among the people.
Unfortunately for the government, these institutions are the breeding ground of radical ideas, some, supporting terrorism and most of which pertaining to anti-militaristic views attacking any actions involving the war against terrorism, inspiring terrorist support. People who incite violence when they glorify violent acts against America may be responsible, indirectly for such acts because of the inspiration they give. They are indeed indirectly accountable but they should not be punished unless they themselves engage in violent acts directly.
America, as it professes, hold most deeply their love for freedom and democracy, and part of this freedom and democracy that they allow their people is the freedom to express one’s insights, beliefs and emotions. If a person feels like glorifying violent acts against America, if that person feels that in himself, he is against the beliefs and ideals that America stands for, then he or she is free to communicate, glorify or say anything about it whether or not it inspires violent acts among others. He should be free to say everything as long as he does not directly engage in such violence.
It is, after all, his right. Now this freedom allowed to citizens is exactly what makes it difficult for the government to deal with schools, mosques and charities that indirectly support terrorism because imposing sanctions on such indirect actions would undermine the liberty that they strive to protect. The only thing the government can do is to make parallel actions that would negate the actions of the supporters of terrorism. If there are local institutions that support terrorism, then they would have to use their power to tap what available resources they have, to negate such support and ideals.
They have to make an effort to promote their ideas and market it, indirectly targeting the ideas of the supporters of terrorism and at the same time, indirectly making an effort to reach out and win the key supporters of terrorism. Part of the war against terrorism is to put out ideas that make possible the perpetuation of support of terrorism and not the people who support these ideas (if they do not directly engage in terrorism). In this case the war against terrorism is simply not a guns and bombs war, but also a challenge to make some people realize the correctness of the ideas imposed.
If the ideas that support terrorism start from ideas imposed by some institutions, then actions should be targeted toward making powerful institutions publicly support ideas like the government’s. Or better yet, infuse anti-terrorist ideas to the institutions that support terrorism. In a way, this would be propagating anti-terrorist ideas as well as killing ideas that support terrorism. 5. “The fight against terrorism is now the first and overriding priority of the Department of Justice. (US Department of Justice, 2004).
” Following this is the revision of the US Patriot act, which expands the power of Intelligence Officials in gathering information. In general, the main purpose of this expansion is for a more efficient targeting and prevention of terrorism by revising previous acts that limited the government’s ability to gather and use information and provide sanctions to terrorists. The revisions include a freer access to information, allowing information sharing among government agencies, “strengthening criminal laws against terrorism and updating the law to reflect new technology (US Department of Justice, 2004).
All these revisions are said to be required to eliminate hindrances to the investigation of terrorist acts. The main purpose of this revision is to provide a more efficient means of using critical information especially those related to terrorism. Prior to the approval of the USA Patriot Act was a report submitted by the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security in 2002, analyzing the possible causes of failure to prevent the 9/11 attack.
The main points of the report is the mismanagement of intelligence caused mostly by certain restrictions in the law prior to the 9/11 attack, and the need for certain revisions to accommodate the present need regarding terrorism (Report of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, 2002). Apparently, the revisions in the US Patriot Act are the response. Undeniably, the revisions in the US Patriot Act are a significant incapacitation of terrorist plans and are a great advancement, although not absolute, in terms of reducing the number of terrorist attacks and thus, ensuring the safety of the people.
This has been proven by situations exemplified in a report by the US Department of Justice in 2004 entitled, “Report from the Field: The US Patriot Act at Work. ” The US Patriot Act has temporarily slowed and probably prevented many acts of terrorism, thus improving the perceived safety of the population. But this advantage comes with the price of increased deprivation of civil liberty. The Act could definitely justify secret wiretaps, increase arrests even at a lower threshold of evidence, increased secret access to personal accounts, records, technological usage, mails and conversations (O’Connor, 2006).
The not so few accounts of erroneous arrests that have been recorded since the approval of the US Patriot Act confirm this (Criticisms of the War on Terrorism, 2006). Critics of Militarism and the US Patriot Act, and the proponents of civic liberty agree that “it is better to think before doing anything drastic (O’Connor, 2006). Those for the Patriot Act agree that in the war against terrorism, time is of the essence as a moment of hesitation could disastrously spell doom (Department of Justice, 2004).
Another point to be considered in the US Patriot Act is the p of time when provisions of the Act would still be deemed effective in preventing terrorism and ensuring the peoples’ safety. Anyone motivated by a perceived moral cause would not be stopped by simple revisions of laws, or more appropriately, by “laws” per se. And this is exactly what characterizes the terrorists in question: their motivation to terrorize is beyond any physical or material cause; they are motivated by their perceived definition of morality and justice.
Soon, they will find a loophole in the laws that are presently slowing them down, and continue towards their goals. The question now is would the government foresee possible threats that are beyond the treatment of laws? And if they do, how would they handle and prevent these possible threats? Would it spell more demands on the peoples’ civic liberty in exchange for the more extensive need for safety? And if they do, what if the bombs and terrorist attacks are mere guises to remove our attention from how they are working on their real target—the peoples’ liberty—the ideal the state is trying to protect.
Because if you are a terrorist, what better way to attack than attacking the foundation of your enemies’ framework. Is it not possible that the state is unknowingly working towards the achievement of the enemies’ real goal? Although the approval of the Act has provided the government with better capability to reduce threats of terrorism, it is still very important, especially with the erratic movement of priorities, that such questions be given consideration and other threats to the peoples’ security continue to be studied, understood and monitored (Report of Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, 2002).
Given the present circumstances when the safety of the peoples is at risk, the US Patriot Act seems to be working satisfactorily in terms of preventing terrorist attacks. It would not be wise to change the provisions of the Act if the objective is to ensure the peoples’ safety. But it would be nice to be hopeful that there would someday be a proposal that would ensure the peoples’ safety without sacrificing the peoples’ liberty. At present, all we can do is choose the lesser evil, and think of ways to eliminate “evil” as a choice.
References Anti-Americanism. (2006, August 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:02, August 6, 2006, from http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=AntiAmericanism &oldid=67844288. Bell, D. (2006). Can the War be Just? Or What is Just War Good For? In Crosscurrents Magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2006, from http://www. crosscurrents. org/Bellspring2006. pdf Criticisms of the War on Terrorism. (2006, August 4).
In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:03, August 6, 2006, from http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=Criticisms_of_the_War_on_Terrorism&oldid=67579159. Just War. (2006, August 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:02, August 6, 2006, from http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=Just_War&oldid=67920472. O’Connor, T. (2006, June 6). Civic Liberties in Domestic Terrorism. In Megalinks in Criminal Justice. Retrieved August 6, 2006, from http://faculty. ncwc. edu/toconnor/429/429lect19. htm. Orend, B. (2005). War. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Retrieved August 6, 2006, from http://plato. stanford. edu/archives/win2005/entries/war. Report of Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Counterterrorism Intelligence Capabilities and Performance Prior to 9-11 (2002, July). In Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Resource Program. Retrieved August 6, 2006 from http://www. fas. org/irp/congress/2002_rpt/hpsci_ths0702. html. US Department of Justice (2004, July). Report from the Field: The US Patriot Act at Work.

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