Ever since the events of 9/11, when two airplanes hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists crashed and collapsed the World Trade Center, the USA engaged in a fierce campaign of counter-terrorism, both within its own borders and abroad. The country spearheaded military operations against Islamic terrorism and any states are thought to be in coalition with the criminal religious groups.
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Now it is the year 2016, and the amount of pressure coming from the radical groups did not go down. Moreover, it grew. The echoes of explosions across Europe are heard in the United States. The government responds to emerging threats with more strong-arm policies, racial profiling, and anti-terrorism laws that violate the amendments regarding privacy and religious freedom. Despite the government’s statements that surveillance over the public is done with good intentions, there is very little reason to believe these invasive and expensive security measures would prove adequate or effective.
The Department of Homeland Security was established in 2001. It molded several departments including anti-terrorism, border security, and natural disaster agencies into one large division. The Patriotic Act was signed the same year. This act largely expanded the definitions of what could be considered domestic terrorism and granted the state additional authority to apprehend the situation. At the time, these seemed like reasonable ideas, as America was too shocked and bewildered by the tragic events of 9/11. The people demanded action from the government. Now there is enough data to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies employed since 2001.
The Patriotic Act (section 802) defines domestic terrorism as an act dangerous to human life, which violates criminal laws of the USA and is aimed to intimidate the civilian population and influence the government policies through coercion and intimidation. The definition is broad enough to declare almost any act of civil disobedience as domestic terrorism.
Greenpeace, Wall Street protesters, and Vieques Island activists are all susceptible to this act. Section 806 of the same act is about the seizure of any assets of people suspected to be involved in acts of domestic terrorism, without due process. Combine that with the effects of section 802, and it becomes obvious that the Patriotic Act enables the government to exert pressure on individuals and non-commercial organizations that have a public voice (How the USA, 2016).
The Department of Homeland Security did not show much effectiveness in the last 15 years. Ever since its creation, the organization was associated with corruption, money laundering, and bureaucracy. The Federal Oversight Report of 2015 is full of compromising facts ranging from cases of taxpayer money spent on spas, to cases of complete incompetence shown by national guards and cybersecurity officers (Blue, 2014). There is a great amount of criticism regarding DHS’s bureaucracy and slow response times. These are the reasons why many doubt the organization’s capabilities to provide security. The latest major fiasco of the DHS involves its failure to prevent the hacking attacks that occurred during the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
The last decade is known for the increasing levels of racial profiling occurring within the United States. Racism and racial profiling have a long history in the country. At some point, almost every national minority within the US felt its effects. These include Indians, Afro-Americans, German-Americans, and Japanese-Americans. During the first and the second world wars, racial profiling was an official statewide policy, which included internment camps for those who were declared “dangerous aliens” and “potential enemy agents” (Des Jardins, 2016). Nowadays the Muslims, who are viewed as potential terrorists by the government, the media, and the public, feel the brunt of racial profiling as well (Moghul, 2016). Historically, it has proven to be an ineffective policy as it makes the government and the police forces quickly lose trust.
Racial profiling is an offense that violates many Amendments of the Constitution, such as the 13th and the 14th Amendment. It also frequently violates the Due Process Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and the Civil Rights Act (What laws and services, 2016). The victims of such treatment could pursue charges, demand counsel, and compensation for damages, but very few do. Racial profiling is a crime committed by police, which has the capabilities and resources that could bring an investigation to a standstill. In addition, there is rarely enough evidence that could be used to prove that an act of racial profiling was committed (Racial profiling, 2016).
It becomes painfully obvious that the efforts committed to fighting terrorism within the USA and outside of its borders are not effective. The increased funding of the DHS is misspent, the borderline unconstitutional surveillance laws and practices are impractical. The nation-wide anxiety is giving rise to racial profiling practices becoming more commonplace among the local police and security forces. The actions of the US military are not earning the country popularity among the locals, as every misplaced bomb ends up in dozens of dead and injured civilians, and hundreds of potential recruits for the terrorists. Drastic changes in both domestic and foreign policies are required in order to improve the situation. Otherwise, another tragedy is just a matter of time.
Des Jardins, J. (2016). From citizen to enemy: The tragedy of Japanese internment.
Racial profiling. (2016).
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What laws and services are available for victims of racial profiling? (2016).