The plethora of commentary regarding the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11 has created much confusion. The overwhelming quality of the circumstances altered the collective psyche of America in deep and profound ways. In many cases these changes have provided solutions, problems and more questions.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss how 9/11 changed criminal justice policies in the United States. The essay will argue that although there have been many worthwhile and successful alterations, a small portion of the policies have provided more questions than answers. To help illuminate this hypothesis, this essay will analyze many of these changes that have been implemented and evaluate them from a new perspective.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is essentially responsible for enforcing and promoting the ideas of justice, fairness and retribution. In a ten-year retrospective of their own accomplishments and principles regarding the situation this organization has delivered many changes. They wrote " Even as we pledge continued vigilance against those who target Americans, our nation can be justifiably proud of its response to these threats over the past decade. America is both stronger and safer than it was a decade ago. Ten years after 9/11, al-Qaeda and its affiliates, while still a serious threat, have a severely degraded capability to attack the homeland. As a result of offensive actions abroad and vigilant security measures at home, the U.S. government has reduced terrorists' capabilities to perpetrate spectacular attacks on American soil. "
This statement can be judged upon an investigation into this organization's actions and results during this time. The DOJ suggested numerous areas in which appropriate attention had been applied and success had been realized. These key actions include, protecting American through the use of investigation and the legal process, changing to a counter terrorism posture in structure and form, legal or policy changes, protecting civil liberties and increasing partnership to help combat the problem. Each one of these areas deserves the proper attention and analysis in order to determine the effectiveness of these drastic and dramatic changes that have happened since the terrorist events of 9/11.
Investigations and Criminal Prosecution
One method of justice is through the legal governmental action where criminal justice professionals work in concert to combine their resources to effectively and efficiently combat the threats presented to them. The concentration of these investigative and prosecutorial efforts have resulted in some seemingly welcomed events. The court systems in the past 13 years have seen an incredible influx in counterterrorism related cases, marking a significant change in attitude since the attacks.
Walsh (2011) summarized many of these changes in her examination of the pre and post 9/11 investigative arena. She wrote "That reality requires a policy-driven security solution, one that addresses concerns about the consequences, the constraints, and the "art of the possible" in combating terrorism. Much of the internal fighting about how to approach the war on terror is about whether aspects fall into the traditional bucket of law enforcement vs. The bucket of war. " To be sure, something had to change as a result of massive attacks that exposed a glaring weakness within the ability to prevent such atrocities. By altering and reproaching the way that the DOJ approaches the idea of terrorism must align with the new types of threats that are now present.
Investigations and criminal prosecution efforts have had to readjust their priorities in order to align themselves with the risk environment. Law enforcement agencies performing counterterrorism operations have since focused on areas of an urban nature or regions that possess high risk infrastructure as primary locations for terrorist activities. These efforts of investigation require the need to organize state, local and federal officials in the proper manner to be successful. This intermixing of agencies has demonstrated the need for strong leadership at all levels and proper solutions can then be developed.
It appears that many of these efforts have been successful and counterterrorism as an enemy ideal has flourished throughout the culture. Davis et al. (2010) in a report that aimed to evaluate these efforts described that this attitudinal adjustment has been mostly realized. They wrote, " nine years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we see that the law enforcement agencies information sharing networks have evolved to include not only counterterrorism, but also the adoption of an all-crimes approach with the goal of striking a balance between criminal intelligence and intelligence related to terrorist threats, " (p.20).
A good example of this approach can be discussed using the New York Subway Plot that unfolded in 2009. This example highlights the synthesis of law enforcement and intelligence efforts that successfully thwarted an international al-Qaeda sponsored plan to attack the very densely populated New York City subway system. The attack itself was to commemorate the events of 9/11 2001 and were suicidal in nature much like the inspiring event. McNeil, Carafano & Zuckerman (2010) explained how this unity of effort was successful and how this event was important in understanding the capabilities of both the enemy and our own efforts. They wrote " Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghani, was arrested after purchasing large quantities of chemicals used to make a TATP bomb, the same type of weapon used in the 2005 bombing of the London Underground and the 2001 shoe-bomb plot. Zazi had traveled to Pakistan, where he received instruction in bomb-making and attended an al-Qaeda training camp. Zazi allegedly planned to detonate TATP bombs on the New York City subway. t least three other individuals have since been arrested on allegations of traveling overseas with Zazi to receive terrorist training and making false statements to authorities. One of them, New York religious leader Ahmad Afzali, has pled guilty to charges of lying to federal agents about informing Zazi that he was being investigated by authorities. Zarein Ahmedzay has also pled guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in the foiled plot."
Having the ideas for change is simply not enough when dealing with intelligence and law enforcement. Real and material changes are essential for things to manifest and the benefits of those to mature into fruition. According to the DOJ " Since 9/11, the FBI has undertaken the most significant transformation in its history. The bureau has restructured its operations in order to better detect, penetrate and dismantle terrorist enterprises as part of its larger cultural shift to a threat-based, intelligence-driven, national security organization." Many of these changes have no doubt real and tangible benefits to the country, while others have not, and still other structural changes have not yet revealed their utility.
To make these changes work, leadership had to overhaul the attitudes and develop new and more appropriate priorities in order to meet the demands that new American century delivered. One such mega-change is the reorganization of the FBI by creating a National Security Branch. This transformation occurred in 2005 and marked a new beginning in leading the law enforcement into this new paradigm of counterterrorism and secret threats. According to the FBI the mission of this sub-unit organization is "to develop a comprehensive understanding of the threats and penetrate national and transnational networks that have a desire and capability to harm us. Such networks include: terrorist organizations, foreign intelligence services, those that seek to proliferate weapons of mass destruction, and criminal enterprises." While this seems slightly aligned with past ideals, the reorganization itself puts a new importance on the structural component of the justice department, and how this reorganization can lead to new and helpful developments on the duty of protecting and delivering justice to the citizens of this country.
Another structural and organizational change that took place in the FBI was the establishment of the National Joint Terrorism Task Force (NJTTF). " Today, the JTTFs include more than 4,400 members nationwide, more than four times the pre-9/11 total, hailing from over 600 state and local agencies and 50 federal agencies. They create familiarity among investigators and managers before a crisis. And perhaps most importantly, we pool talents, skills, and knowledge from across the law enforcement and intelligence communities into a single team that responds as a coordinated force according to an FBI statement."
In more obvious structural changes, the sheer size of the DOJ and the FBI have increased enormously and there are many more people that are dedicated to counterterrorism efforts than ever before in the history of government. Field agents, linguists and other specialties have been significantly added to these organizations to bolster their abilities. The point of diminishing returns may have been reached however in many cases were the solution is to simply add more people to the mix. The risk of immersing an organization in new and unproven talent has the possibility of significantly weakening the overall quality of labor. As a result, even more demands for leaders and leadership becomes obvious and strains and weak points within the unit can be exploited to a greater degree. The bigger they are the…