Literature Review Chapter: Counterterrorism the Future of Counterterrorism Policies: Examining

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The Future of Counterterrorism Policies:

Examining Partnerships


Special Operations Forces

Law Enforcement Agencies

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten by the millions of people who witnessed them, whether live or on television, whether American or foreign, and whether old or young. This date has surely joined others as an infamous date in American history. In addition to the palpable shockwaves of grief and shock that these attacks sent around the world, the September 11 attacks have also ignited a fight between the United States and the forces that plot against it, namely the terrorist forces that exist all around the world, hidden from sight. This "fight" has been labeled by the United States government as a fight against terrorism, and numerous "counterterrorism" measures have been employed since 2001 to attain success. Despite these various efforts, however, one important question still remains. This question relates to how the United States government should, over a decade later, evaluate the success of its counterterrorist measures and how it should, if necessary, improve upon them.

For this reason, this review serves to illuminate upon existing counterterrorism measures, as well as upon proposed improvements, such as the potential for counterterrorism partnerships between Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Law Enforcement Agencies. In order to expand upon this important latter point, the following paragraphs will focus upon governmental efforts that can enable agencies to work in complement with SOF and how such a cooperation will be achieved. These issues will be examined due to the fact that SOF will never attain the efficiency and strategic utility necessary in combating terrorism if it disregards coordination cooperation and combined operations with Law Enforcement Agencies, a point which will also be demonstrated below. More specifically, the following section will also examine whether SOF units need to be trained in police and forensic investigative techniques to work with interagency, particularly the law enforcement community, to achieve mission success, and ultimately, a lasting success for the United States.

Counterterrorism: Background and Introduction

Congress must, at some point, evaluate every single governmental policy in order to determine effectiveness and potential modifications for ensured future success. Such an evaluation came about in 2007, when the 110th Congress was presented with a report written by Raphael Perl, a Specialist in the International Affairs division of the Department of Defense. This report focused on measuring the effectiveness of the country's counterterrorism policies. This was and remains a very important topic in governmental debate, and one which Mr. Perl evaluated in exactly 15 pages.

This report summarized quite succinctly how Congress should look at counterterrorism policies. It began by referencing, not specific actions taken by the nation, but rather broad aspects of its efforts in combating terrorism with just as broad a criteria for evaluation. The report was, therefore, "not intended to define specific, in-depth, metrics for measuring progress against terrorism," according to Perl (2007, p.2). Nor was this report intended to expand upon or evaluate in-depth any other aspects of counterterrorism, such as definitions, statistics, and country profiles (i.e. country-related threats). Such issues were left to other reports, many of which are very hard to find. Indeed, one of the hardest reports to find is an update to Perl's 2007 overview. Thankfully, however, counterterrorism is such a hotly-debated topic that many others have written upon it, and with better analysis.

Despite its relative vagueness, the Congressional report did provide members with some background on the problem of counterterrorism and how it is addressed by the United States. Counterterrorism is defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as those efforts which protect "the American people from terrorist threats," efforts that the Department has as its founding purpose (Department of Homeland Security, 2011, p.1). In this scope, the DHS undertakes "efforts to battle terrorism, [which] include detecting explosives in public spaces and transportation networks, helping protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks from attack, detecting agents of biological warfare, and building information-sharing partnerships with state and local law enforcement that can enable law enforcement to mitigate threats" (Department of Homeland Security, 2011, p.1). Though, again, the report did not examine these definitions it did mention that there were some discrepancies in measurement mechanisms and current strategy. One of the most important sections of the report, though short, was that which commented upon the problem to be examined, and hopefully corrected, by suggestions below, namely "Describing and Measuring Progress against Terrorism" and improving counterterrorism measures in the future.

Today's Counterterrorism: An Evaluation

In order to better contextualize the above-mentioned report and the issues it raises, one must understand how counterterrorism measures work at present. According to Perl, progress and lack thereof may be defined with certain criteria including incidents of terrorist activities, trends towards terrorism, and attitudes towards terrorism (Perl, 2007, p.13). Yet this is not the only criteria that can be utilized to evaluate counterterrorism measures. In fact, it is difficult to find a uniform criteria, which may explain the lack of true evaluation statistics in this respect.

In essence, the point raised by the previous section has been to note that there is a problem, and much confusion, with the way counterterrorism is defined, examined and evaluated. Whereas the DHS has, in its opinion, a clear mission, the fact that this cannot be referenced in a Congressional Report prompts the question of whether there is agreement on the complex topic of counterterrorism, and on the various characteristics utilized to define its success. Thus, such a problem may be remedied by proposing not only a uniform definition for the processes related to counterterrorism, but also a solution for its future, which will be the subject of the next section.

To expand upon today's counterterrorism, however, one need only look at various academic, defense, and news sites. It is here that one will find something truly troubling that the Congressional report did not touch upon: the monetary aspect of counterterrorism. According to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) report, counterterrorism is expensive in every single aspect, where as terrorism is "cheap, requires little manpower, captures the world's attention and gives the weak the ability to terrify the strong" (Lomborg, 2008, p.1). Counterterrorism is expensive, and potentially ineffective because countries will spend massively simply because of political pressure and extreme risk aversion tendencies.

The question of finances when it comes to funding counterterrorism measures is perhaps one of the most important and least discussed aspects by Congress. In other words, why does the country keep spending money if the policies are effective? Where does this money go? Alternatively, if the policies are ineffective, why is this so and how can it be remedied? These questions are very important, and have come up time and again throughout the research progress, and the next section will aim to propose a first step solution to a large problem. Yet first, there are some important sources that also comment upon the financial aspect, which can be included in this literature review for further validity of the necessity to find a solution to effectively undertaking counterterrorism measures.

The next commentary thus comes from Richard Barrett, the coordinator of the United Nations Taliban and Al-Qaida Monitoring Team. Barrett states that there are direct and indirect consequences of counterterrorism measures that are constantly enacted by various governments, especially that of the United States, and these countries must all make an effort to closely examine their policies and make sure that they are effective first and foremost, and, secondly, ascertain that they are not harmful to the developing world (Barrett, 2006, p.3). Other organizations agree that there are problems including STRATFOR Global Intelligence, in a 2011 report, and the Washington Post, who exposes the redundancies of counterterrorism policies and the misguided hand with which it has been dealt and which it deals, in turn, to the American people, who hope for success, yet receive only more financial requests.

The Future of Counterterrorism: Opening a Partnership

Perhaps, in order to solve such complex problems as presented in the previous section, it is worth looking at a simple and potentially effective solutions. This solution aims at addressing cooperation and streamlining of activities between SOF and Law Enforcement Agencies, with a view to better equip the nation for success against terrorism. The cooperative coordination which can be achieved by the close collaboration of these organizations will amount to the most effective counter-terrorism strategy possible in the 21st century. Struggles will persist, however, as budgets, attention, technology, and politics all interfere with the potentially flawless counter-terrorism strategy created in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Interagency cooperation is, in effect, contradictory to the best interests of the agencies themselves, as clout is delivered to the most successful agency and mistakes are blamed on the less successful. The White House, as well, has its own priorities for the various counter-intelligence agencies, as a large scale terrorist attack would surely harm the political legitimacy of any administration, and therefore the community has gained some redundancy in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Counterterrorism the Future of Counterterrorism Policies: Examining.  (2011, November 25).  Retrieved May 19, 2019, from

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"Counterterrorism the Future of Counterterrorism Policies: Examining."  25 November 2011.  Web.  19 May 2019. <>.

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"Counterterrorism the Future of Counterterrorism Policies: Examining."  November 25, 2011.  Accessed May 19, 2019.