Combating terrorism has become a major concern of the United States Government. It has been a major concern for a number of years but it has taken on particular importance since the events of 9/11 shocked the American society and the world. Following such events the Government stepped up its efforts at combating terrorism with a number of U.S. governmental agencies stepping up front and center to initiate efforts.
One of the Government agencies that reorganized itself in an attempt to combat terrorism was the U.S. State Department. The State Department has been involved in combating terrorism since terrorism first began to be a security problem for the United States. Terrorism is not a new concept but it has become a more popular vehicle for those seeking to make an impact and to promote a particular point-of-view (Rapin). Although the concept means different things to different people, the general concept is that it is an unlawful use of force and/or violence against people or property in an effort to intimidate others in an effort to further a particular political or social objective. There are as many goals behind the actions of terrorists as there are individual terrorist groups but the basic goal of most terrorist groups is to commit acts of violence that draw attention to their individual cause. In most cases, terrorist groups do not see their acts of violence as evil. Instead, they see themselves as legitimate combatants. The victims and families of the victims see the terrorists much differently. In most cases, they view the terrorist acts as simply criminal and the terrorists as evil persons without any regard for human life. The final group involved in acts of terrorism is the general public. It is here that the acts of terrorism are seen most differently and it is this group that the terrorists are most concerned with influencing. Terrorists like to fashion themselves as "Robin Hood" type characters in an attempt to sway the opinion of the general public.
The U.S. State Department is the Government's lead agency in handling terrorist incidents abroad involving United States interests (Perl). The State Department is uniquely situated due to the availability of its intelligence staff to address terrorists concerns throughout the world. Through its staff, in coordination with information provided through other government agencies, the State Department develops and implements policies to address international terrorism. Inside the State Department, the specific office in charge of combating terrorism, since 1972, had been the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Earlier in 2012, after several years of legislative debate and compromise, the Office for Counterterrorism was officially reorganized and elevated to the status of U.S. Government Bureau (Radia).
The Office for Counter-terrorism within the State Department had possessed the responsibility for coordinating policy and operations regarding counter terrorism for the United States Government. A part of these coordinating efforts was to utilize diplomacy in an effort to neutralize terrorist activities that occur within the borders of foreign nations. The Office also had the responsibility of coordinating actual operations that might become necessary as a result of terrorist hazards as they develop.
Although the Office for Counter-Terrorism had primary responsibilities the State Department had other agencies within its organization that also dealt with counter-terrorism. One of these agencies was the Office of Security. The Office of Security was responsible for protecting the premises and personnel of the State Department. The range of protections provided by the Office included preventing intelligence penetration, mob violence, or terrorist assault. Unlike the Office of Counter-Terrorism, the Office of Security primary function was operational and not related to policy implementation or formation.
The third State Department agency involved in counter-terrorism was the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Krueger). The function of this agency was to coordinate the activities of the State Department with the activities of the other government agencies that work through other departments of the U.S. Government in the area of terrorism and related intelligence activities. This agency also directed research and analysis on terrorism.
Beyond the Office for Counter-Terrorism's responsibilities within the State Department the Office also previously held the inter-agency responsibility for coordinating efforts with all the various U.S. government agencies that have some form of counter-terrorism duties. With over 30 different agencies involved in counter-terrorism this was a formidable responsibility but the different agencies were organized into a committee indentified as the Group on Terrorism. This group was intended to coordinate policies of the U.S. Government on issues of terrorism and to assure that the various programs under the auspices of the Government were effective. This group had little or no involvement in the operation.
In a recent move that highlights the importance of the State Department's involvement in counterterrorism, the status of the Office for Counterterrorism was upgraded to that of an actual Bureau. Because the State Department, consist with the Government's policy to expand its efforts in combating terrorism through diplomatic means, has been taking on a growing role in counterterrorism it was felt that such an upgrade was necessary. This upgrade was partially in response to a recent recommendation by the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review committee. The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review was formed to evaluate the needs of the State Department on a long-term basis. It was felt by the members of the Review that the State Department needed to integrate diplomacy and counterterrorism efforts. As a result of this need, it was determined that the Office for Counterterrorism should be expanded so that an actual Bureau could supervise and coordinate government involvement in counterterrorism activities (Waugh).
The reasoning behind the creation of a bureau as opposed to an office is that such change would allow the government to better manage its efforts in regard to counterterrorism. Since the Office for Counterterrorism was first created in 1972 in response to the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics, the responsibilities of the Office have increased substantially and as the responsibilities increased coordination became a problem. In response, it was felt that the creation of a Bureau would alleviate some of the coordination problems. As the Bureau was created the former offices that were operational under the Office for Counterterrorism were reorganized into four new departments identified as Directorates. The four new directorates are: Homeland Security and Multilateral Affairs; Operations; Programs, Policy, and Budget; and Regional Affairs.
As the new Bureau and the resulting four directorates has only recently been organized the specific functions of the Bureau, in general, and the four directorates, specifically, have not been clearly defined. The general goal that led to the formation of the Bureau was to provide the State Department with leadership in an effort to combat terrorism abroad and to secure America's borders. The new Bureau is expected to assume all the various responsibilities of the previously existing Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism but to expand upon those responsibilities to counter the growing threat of terrorism.
In regard to this expanded authority the new Bureau is expected to strengthen America's capacity to combat terrorism throughout the world. Ever since the State Department first became involved in the area of counterterrorism it has experienced problems of coordination with the other government agencies that are also involved in combating terrorism. The role of the former Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism was to engage the State Department in activities abroad that had the potential to affect security within the United States but, in doing so, coordination with other Government agencies was poorly executed. The goal in creating a new Bureau within the State Department dedicated to combating terrorism was to increase civilian involvement in the counterterrorism process and to coordinate government efforts abroad with the activities that were occurring within U.S. borders.
The fact that the Bureau is only a few months old…