The primary administrative change that is needed for the Department of Homeland Security when it comes to combating terrorism more effectively is greater transparency regarding its actions, especially when it comes to the methods that are currently being utilized in order to investigate potential terrorist threats. The reason why this is being proposed is due to article 213 of the Patriot Act which allows law enforcement or investigative agencies (i.e. the Department of Homeland Security) to unilaterally collect and examine digital data en masse from Americans in order to detect potential terrorist threats within the country (Gilbert, 2013). This manifested in the NSA Prism program which collected digital information (ex: emails, chat logs, etc.) from millions of Americans in order to search for terrorist communications. This data was subsequently shared with various government agencies in order to better assist in the investigative process.
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The inherent problem though with this method is that it can be described as a systematic violation of the privacy rights of ordinary American citizens that did not have sufficient judicial oversight in order to reign in the method of investigation that was being utilized. Millions of Americans cannot all be guilty of terrorist activities and, as such, to subject them to a method of investigation that examined their online activities is a definite violation of their privacy rights.
It is along this train of thought that when it comes to administrative changes for the Department of Homeland Security, it is advisable that greater transparency in their operations is needed in the form of informing the general public regarding the type of operations they are conducting and how it impacts the public in general (Barr, 2004). This can come in the form of posting the information online, placing it in nationally circulated newspapers or creating a public service announcement that specifically explains the current activities of the agency.
While it can be argued that one of the potential negative consequences of the suggested method of transparency is that it can give a domestic terrorist a “heads up” so to speak when it comes to the methods that can be used in order to track them down, the fact remains that government agencies do not have the right to unilaterally investigate the online activities of people that have not been considered as being suspects in any potential case of domestic terrorism. To go along this line of thought would result in the creation of a police state where privacy rights are almost absent. Such a case would be worse than any instance of domestic terrorism at the present.
The reason behind advocating such actions is due to the need to curb agency activities that may anger the general public due to what they may perceive as greater levels of government control and surveillance over their personal lives. If such actions are not undertaken in the future, it is likely that public resentment regarding the current government may escalate to the point that it may incite domestic terrorism activities simply due to people being angry at the current activities of criminal justice agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security.
Overall, it can be expected that should the proposed changes be implemented, it would result in greater public trust towards the Department of Homeland Security which would greatly benefit the government when it comes to preventing instances of civil unrest due to dissatisfaction over the activities of the government.
Barr, B. (2004). Patriot Act Problems. World & I, 19(10), N.PAG.
Gilbert, F. (2013). Demystifying the United States patriot act. Journal Of Internet Law, 16(8), 3-7.