Loss of Civil Liberties Due to International Terrorism Research Proposal

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Terrorism and Loss of Civil Liberties

Terrorism and Civil Liberties

The aftermath of September 11 has been a controversial and challenging period for the U.S. Ethnic profiling and speculation without any accountability have undermined the rule of law and overridden civil and constitutional rights of thousands of citizens. The former president's acceptance that Iraqi invasion was a 'terrible mistake' is enough proof of the strategic misadventure of a failed intelligence system backed by emergency terror legislation.

The new millennium brought with it strange developments. On the one side we witnessed unthinkable terrorist plots killing thousands of innocent people on our homeland. On the other hand we saw the adoption of new anti-terror regulations granting unprecedented powers to law enforcers. The new 'preventive paradigm' strategy endorsed by the Bush administration included drastic changes in the form of the 'patriot act' that has placed security at a higher pedestal than civic liberties. Proactive profiling has created much furor among the minority population while privacy violations have evoked outcry among the public. Are the anti-terror initiatives overextended and highhanded? Has the new 'preventive paradigm' been successful in controlling terrorism or has it undermined the democratic society, which it seeks to protect? A brief discussion would provide us better insight into the issue.

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Research Proposal on Loss of Civil Liberties Due to International Terrorism Assignment

One of the arguments of the Bush administration is that highhanded measures against the 'rogue states' has helped them contain attacks by these rogue states in the U.S. In the Bush administrations "paradigm of prevention," hundreds of minority Muslims have been detained and tortured in prisions in Syria. In the name of security, freedom and the privacy of people are totally invaded. The case of canadian Maher Arar, who was deported to and tortured in Syria while he was returning from his holiday in Tunis in Sep 2002 is now a well-known case of violation of constitutional and international human rights. He was tortured in syria for a whole year only to be acquitted and awarded $10.5 million compensation by the canadian government. However, the U.S. government still lists him on its watchlist without having any evidence that relates him to alqueda, the original premise on which he was arrested in Sep 2002. Based on such speculation alone, thousands of Muslims have been detained and interviewed by FBI and asked to complete mandatory registration. [David Cole, 2007] This is a clear violation of the madisonian principles, "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself " [Russell Hardin, 2004]

Not to mention the guantanomo debacle and the horrible treatment of hundreds of prisoners in utter disregard of both international and U.S. laws, The Bush administration tried to justify these atrocities saying 'unlawful enemy combatants' did not deserve any measure of law. [Karen J. Greenberg, 2007] This was a serious infringement of the civic rights of the detainees, the majority of whom had nothing to do with terrorism. It makes sense to reiterate justice Goldberg famous 1963 ruling in the Kennedy v. Mendoza Martinez case, "The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action." [Theresa H. Nguyen, 2002]

Has this alienating attitude helped in managing the terrorist problem better? Quoting 'The Economist', "The whole point of the terrorist act is to provoke a reaction disproportionate to the act itself." [Barnet RJ, 1996] There is always retaliation round the corner waiting only for opportunistic moment to explode. It just falls into the terrorists' hands of creating more panic and tension. Retrospectively speaking, the use of force and violence to create political change has largely failed as can be witnessed by the continued violence by these rogue states or organizations that seem to have gained in sympathy and support in what has now become an ideological battle. There is reason to believe that alienating attitudes against minorities would only play into the terrorists' hands and help them establish 'recruitment networks' and 'logistic bases' across the world. [Anja Dalgaard, 2004]

The Patriot Act

The 'Patriot Act' was passed in Oct 2001 to provide the U.S. government with the means and methods to stop terrorism and terrorists before they implement their heinous plans. The Los Angels Times poll taken in the next few days following the Sep 11 attacks had found that 61% of people nationwide felt the necessity to 'give up some civil liberties' for the safety of the nation. One-year post introduction of the 'patriot act', the support dwindled to 33% clearly indicating the potential for misuse of the act. In fact, the patriot act gives the State security department several unconstitutional powers like detaining non-U.S. citizens without charging, indefinitely detaining them after charging, tapping all telephonic conversations, access to all personal records including medical records, seizing "any tangible things" that are supposedly useful for investigation, etc. In march 18, 2002, the Denver democratic mayor signed the anti-Patriot resolution by a vote of 7 to 4 that concluded that the war on terror, "not be waged at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties of the people of Denver and the United States." To show the measure of public outcry against the patriot act was the anti-patriot resolution passed by the New York city council in February 2004. As Bill Perkins, the NY city democrat put it, "It was challenging in the sense that we were the target of terrorism,." As a surprising turn, in 2005, the Idaho state legislature which is a republican stronghold (85% republican) also passed the anti-patriot resolution-seeking amendments to the act so that "it does not unnecessarily compromise essential liberties of the citizens of the United States." [David Weigel, 2005]

Several instances of abuse of the patriot act have turned the public opinion against the act. Public awareness about the abuse of patriot act increased with the case of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a Saudi Arabian student, who was pursuing his PhD at the University of Idaho. Al-Hussayen was arrested in Feb 2003 on '3 counts of terrorism', '4 counts of making false statements' and ' 7 counts of visa fraud'. His only mistake was to help the Islamic Society of North America in building their website. However, the government viewed the organization as providing "radical Islamic ideology." And therefore under the patriot act provision, "expert advice" for such organizations was prohibited and criminal. After spending a year in jail, Al-Hussayen was finally acquitted of all charges as the jury felt that the government had clearly violated his first amendment rights. As David Cole, the Georgetown University Law professor said, "When President Bush and Dick Cheney say, 'You have not shown me a single abuse of the Patriot Act,'" "I think people can now say, 'Look at the Sami Omar Al-Hussayen case.'?" [David Weigel, 2005]

Confirming the wide spread concerns against the patriot act was the 2004 national elections in Wisconsin. Russ Feingold, the democratic candidate for Wisconsin, was the only U.S. Senate who cast a negative vote on the Patriot act and was accused of putting 'his liberal ideology before our safety'. This was the electoral strategy of the republican candidate Tim Michels. However, this continuous pounding on the patriot act theme did not cause a landslide for Michels but it was Feingold who emerged victorious by an amazing 3,30,000 ballots confirming the skeptical standpoint of the public on the patriot act. This was a clear lesson for all the politicians, one that echoes the true sentiments of the people. [David Weigel, 2005]

The recent judgment by Oregon District Judge who sentenced 7 of the 10 'earth liberation Front' activists as terrorists for their crimes such as torching vehicles and animal slaughter houses serves to illustrate how the Patriot act can over extend the power of the federal prosecutors. While there is no question of doubt that criminal activities such as arson is definitely punishable, there is no sense in branding such 'eco arson' attack as 'top domestic terrorism' which seriously affects the lives of the defendants once they come out of the prison. Terrorist branding would imply that they can no longer get passports, driving licenses, bank accounts, jobs, etc. To cut it short, they can no longer return to their normal lives. In other words, the rulings have deprived the defendants of their right to protection against unjust punishment, which is unconstitutional. [Ken Olsen, 2007]


The aftermath of September 11 has been a controversial and challenging period for the U.S. Violence as a way of attaining peace and security has proved to be a paradoxical attempt. The overreaching foreign policy of the United States, which donned the robe of international police, has given the small pockets of terrorists groups… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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