The International terrorists’ attacks against the United States have demonstrated a disquieting escalation of hostility. These attacks are now being conducted on the U.S soil, instances being the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, attacks on New York City’s Lincoln and Holland tunnels in 1993 and the 1995 attempt to explode eleven American aircraft. The 1999 car explosion was targeted at the people who had assembled at the U.S – Canada border, in order to celebrate the arrival of the new millennium and depicted, in the words of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, an example of “an international ad hoc coalition of terrorists [who] have expressed the intention of causing harm to Americans and their allies.” (L. Paul Bremer III, 2001).
In 1999 the U.S Congress instituted the National Commission on Terrorism in order to evaluate U.S. efforts in countering international terrorism. In its report, this commission recommended further measures necessary for the protection of U.S citizens. These recommendations are set out below (L. Paul Bremer III, 2001).
One of the main recommendations was that the intelligence gathering capacity of the U.S had to be improved in order to make it more effective in determining the identity and plans of the terrorists. Superior quality intelligence on terrorists can save precious lives of the innocent; an example of this contention is the frustration of large scale overseas attacks on Americans in 1999, due to effective intelligence cooperation with Jordan (L. Paul Bremer III, 2001).
The National Commission on Terrorism has opined that endeavours to collect information about terrorist attacks and then to distribute it to analysts and decision-makers in the federal government seldom meet with success due to the near obsessive proclivity of the bureaucracy to maintain secrecy (L. Paul Bremer III, 2001).
The Commission’s recommendation in respect of policy is that the U.S has to vigorously make counterterrorism efforts against the supporters of terrorists and that in this endeavour it has to concentrate on first, nations that either support terrorist activity or ignore it; second, private individuals and organizations that supply terrorists with material goods. In this effort the U.S has to clearly indicate to the leaders of countries that support terrorists “that it expects changes in their support for terrorism” (L. Paul Bremer III, 2001).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI, has warned that there has been a significant increase in the threat of the use of CBRN or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons in the United States in the recent past. Due to the gravity of the consequences of such attacks, the Commission has recommended that some drawbacks in the U.S approach have to be dealt with at once and in order to bring about effective controls on biological agents, the U.S. government has to:
w Make unauthorized possession of dangerous biological agents a criminal offence.
w Enforce strong measures to prevent the pilfering of such agents.
w Impose stringent control on the sale of such equipment as is essential to convert biological agents into weapons.
The protection of U.S. citizens necessitates the adoption of an unremitting national strategy that employs intelligence of a very high order to implement “he full range of measures against terrorists and their supporters. Some of these measures are diplomatic, economic, and commercial pressures; covert action; and military force.” In the year 2000, legislation was formulated that would implement most of the recommendations made by the Commission (L. Paul Bremer III, 2001).
Initially, while developing a plan to estimate a security threat to an aircraft a threat assessment has to be made. Subsequently, the concerned security agencies have to implement such protection measures as are deemed essential to counter threats when the aircraft is not yet airborne and when it is flying. In this connection, it would be very useful for a few of the flight crew to be trained in close-fighting techniques and the use of less-than-lethal weapons (Robert L. Oatman, 2002).
At present all U.S airports have implemented enhanced security measures, which include a ban on liquids, gels and beverages in carry-on baggage. Moreover, federal air marshals are being utilized to provide additional security on flights. Furthermore, enforcement measures at all ports of entry have been enhanced and some of these are the use of “advanced passenger screening, additional baggage and aircraft search teams, baggage X-ray equipment, trained canine units and explosives detection technology.” Despite the fact that many of these procedures are not easily discernible, the fact remains that they provide a safe air travel (Michael Chertoff, 2006).
The detection of such chemicals poses a much lesser problem than that posed by the existing detection processes, which either result in significant false alarms or require the screening of items one by one, due to which air travellers would have to wait for hours on end at airports. Therefore, the U.S government intends to develop detection technology that will not cause unreasonable delays or create obstacles for genuine air travelers (Michael Chertoff, 2006).
As a result, the Transportation Security Administration or TSA has put in place a security system based on several independent security layers, some of these layers are first, dependence on human skills and resourcefulness; second, screening of passengers on the basis of intelligence reports in order to identify potential terrorists and third, deployment of adequately trained TSA officers to check passengers and their carry-on baggage. A great deal of effort has been made in this area as in evidenced by the fact that in the year 2005, 30,000 officers were trained in order to enable them to “identify bomb components and modern detonation equipment, including liquid explosives” (Michael Chertoff, 2006).
Homeland security policy implementation depends on effective intergovernmental relations and requires the active cooperation of federal, state, and local agencies.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created the Department of Homeland Security or DHS, which constitutes the lead agency for synchronizing the efforts of the federal, state, and local governments in combating terrorism. Moreover, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 5 required the DHS to formulate and execute a National Response Plan and a National Incident Management System or NIMS, whereas the Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 8 directed the DHS to create a National Preparedness Goal (Townsend 2006).
The purpose of the NIMS and the National Preparedness Goal is to regulate the manner in which federal, state, and local entities administer homeland security. The NIMS was issued in March 2004 and offers a “standardized, unified framework for incident management to be used by emergency managers and responders across jurisdictions.” From the fiscal year 2006, all federal preparedness grants to state and local governments are dependent on their observance of rules contained in the NIMS and eligibility of the State and local governments for such grants requires them to submit a certification of compliance. In December 2004, the National Response Plan was released. It consists of an all-discipline, all-hazards framework for tackling terrorist incidents in the country. Its main objective is to bring about a better synchronized response from the federal, state and local organizations (Townsend 2006).
The National Preparedness Goal constitutes one more federal mechanism for bringing uniformity in vigilance and response activities in the various strata of the government. However, reorganization at the federal level is needed as “[T] he required relationships are not in place and, in many instances, may not be even understood. . . . Homeland security implies a significant reconfiguring of a substantial portion of the public service. Changes are being made-and will continue to be made in the political, financial, legal-regulatory, and operational dimensions of intergovernmental functioning” (Kiki Caruson, Susan A MacManus, 2006).
Although, National security is the primary duty of the central government, terrorism due to being a highly localized phenomenon, has made it essential for intergovernmental cooperation. Initially, after the terror attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C there was a lack of such cooperation and the local government partners had to undertake severe fiscal, administrative, and decision-making burdens (Peter Eisinger, 2006).
Subsequently, the federal cooperation resulted in the capability to adapt, change and bring about improvements in the face of terrorist attacks, although there are several difficult issues in respect of the expenses and difficulties involved in protecting American towns and cities by means of the extant federal partnership, which is not centralized to any significant extent (Peter Eisinger, 2006).
A major change is expected to take place with the establishment of A new Department of Homeland Security in respect of the manner in which the federal government supervises internal security of the U.S. In the event of the functioning of the department optimally, there will be an efficient collection and analysis of intelligence data leading to a befitting response to terrorist threats (Thomas E. Ricks, 2002).
However, the experts on national security are of the opinion that although this proposal would bring about the unification of the bureaucracy it would be inadequate as it ignored the failure of the FBI and the CIA in properly sharing information (Thomas E. Ricks, 2002).
This could be a major disadvantage for the head of this new department. Further, it would be incorrect to assume that the FBI is capable in performing such functions, because, “The huge weakness of the FBI has been in intelligence and analysis… It’s not an analytic culture, it’s a police culture.” (Thomas E. Ricks, 2002).
Furthermore, this new department would have to obtain information by relying on the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency and this would make it susceptible to the very same problems that have been constantly troubling these agencies (Thomas E. Ricks, 2002).
The USA Patriot Act of 2001 has impacted civil liberties. It is essential to realize that civil liberties should not be curbed in order to bring about security measures. This makes it essential for the US political bodies to comprehend and meaningfully participate in an effort to bring about a proper balance (Lee S Strickland, 2002).
Security strategy and its adoption have become universal and this is similar to what has taken place in respect of the world’s economy. There has been an overlapping of political borders from the time that economies have come to be dependant on knowledge and not on land as had been the situation in the past (Shimon Peres, 2002).
Analogously, security issues have transformed from situations in which countries had to countenance specific enemies to one in which “the threats are of a global nature.” With the introduction of ballistic missiles, it has become possible for terrorists to attack targets located at great distances without affording any prior warning. Since, terrorism is global, the efforts and strategies employed against it must also be global. In respect of the Al Qaeda network, which is independent of any state or law, the free world has to shoulder collective responsibility on a national, regional and global level (Shimon Peres, 2002).
In the Middle East, there has been a proliferation of ballistic missiles, chemical and biological weapons. Moreover, the presence of terrorist cells with transnational influence denotes that these terrorists pose danger to the world and not merely to the regional. This is the reason for the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, combining forces in order to meet the menace of terrorism in the Middle East. This initiative is being led by the United States and satisfies their strategic needs (Shimon Peres, 2002).
The safety of the US citizens has been greatly enhanced due to the USA PATRIOT Act. There has been a significant reduction in the commission of terrorist attacks due to the destruction of terrorists’ cells and the conviction of terrorists. Moreover, terrorists and criminals are not being allowed to enter the United States. It has been the contention of several opponents of the Bush regime that the USA PATRIOT Act impairs the civil liberties of the U.S citizens. These persons have further stated that this act allows the US government to indulge in espionage against U.S. citizens even in the absence of a warrant or criminal suspicion (Malkin, 2004).
“Fortunately the PATRIOT Act expanded the capabilities of our joint Terrorism Task forces, which combine federal, state and local law enforcement officers into a seamless anti-terror team with international law enforcement and intelligence agencies” (Ashcroft, 2003).
The National Strategy indicates that success in deterring terrorism will be possible only if there is a “sustained, steadfast, and systematic application of all the elements of national power.” This will emasculated international terrorist organizations and terrorists will be deprived of the sponsorship, support and sanctuary that is essential for their survival. Moreover, the National Strategy will make the U.S emerge victorious in the war of ideas and at the same time mitigate if not eliminate the causes that compel people to adopt terrorism. This strategy not only provides for protection against attacks within the country but also makes adequate provisions for safeguarding U.S interests and citizens around the world. Moreover, this strategy utilizes the active cooperation of other freedom loving countries and endeavours to rally others to this common cause in order to combat terrorism and build lasting mechanisms for combating terrorism (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, February 2003).
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