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1. Counterterrorism is nothing new to the U.S. especially the FBI. “In 1982, counter-terrorism was designated as the fourth national priority for the bureau.” (Chalk, 2003) Then why is there such an issue with it still? The American people are for the most part willing to forego a small portion of their freedoms, but that is probably one of the biggest challenges that faces the government (intelligence and law enforcement) when it comes to counterterrorism. There are going to be members of society that are not willing to give up their rights that have been given to them. The U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act is the best example, it was easily passed into law, but once the American public was able to see what it allowed the government (FBI) to do there was so major push back. It is hard to say if it is because those individuals have something to hide or just enjoy the freedoms that are afforded to them.
Another major challenge that faces the U.S. counterterrorism effort is the ever changing technology. At first it was money laundering by moving it from bank to bank until the law enforcement agency lost track of it. Now there are VPNs (virtual private networks) that allow you to be “anywhere” in the world based on the address of your VPN. Some use a VPN to gain better access to local news information in a foreign country. Terrorists can use it to mask their actual location. Whenever the U.S. and the laws catch up to some of these technologies, they have moved on to something new and evasive.
Counterterrorism is the U.S. is getting better, based on the number of attacks that have been thwarted, but these two challenges alone are going to keep the U.S. continuously in catch up mode and finding ways around to help track terrorists.
2. The terrorist events on September 11, 2001, worked as a catalyst that not only emotionally and physically harmed a nation, but also helped form its international policy. The PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) established the groundwork for the Department of Homeland Security’s establishment. Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) was established with the understanding that homeland security remains a top concern for both corporate and public sector entities. PPD-21 identified 16 essential infrastructures that comply with virtual and physical networks in the United States. As a result of this, an incentive system that prioritized a collaborative effort to maintain internal structure became necessary. Terrorists and radical groups adapted towards the highly technological environment, and regulations governing US anti-terrorism activities altered as well. EO (Executive Order) 13636 was issued to create a cyber climate that fosters efficiency and creativity in the establishment of continuous risk assessment to strengthen cybersecurity (Department of Homeland Security n.d.). While defensive measures have been implemented to prevent terrorism, González et al. (2022) notes out that radicalization has made American people a growing concern. Due to the deterioration of the situation, US anti-terrorism operations had to be directed at a level far lower than national: local. To resist the rising wave, local state and city governments were expected to rise to the occasion (terrorism). As a result, city governments have embraced new police strategies (COMPSTAT and Intelligence-Led). According to Duits et al. (2022), these countermeasures/aggressive actions used by local law enforcement helped to thwart a number of terrorist plots. When it comes to political progress in the fight against terrorism, one might point to President Trump’s outright rejection of the Iran nuclear deal. Preventing terrorist-sponsoring countries from being able to use/proliferate nuclear weapons is a significant preventive step. When seeking to criticize America’s counter-terrorism operations, I feel it is more than adequate. America’s attempts strike a delicate balance between preventative and defensive measures while upholding constitutional liberties.
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