Protecting Ourselves Against Terrorism Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

S. has to be active in supporting the International Law. He argues that our effort should not be to defeat a set of criminals, Osama Bin Laden, his Al-Qaeda network and a few like-minded groups, but we have to undermine the notion that any action is acceptable for a cause and slaughter of civilian is an acceptable political act.

The fight against terrorism has to be based not on destroying a certain group of terrorists but as a campaign of human rights. Geneva Conventions and international human rights law specifically establish that terrorism is not a legitimate act of war or politics. These rules specify that civilians should never be deliberately killed or abused, regardless of the cause. Mr. Bush's refusal to condemn Israel's bombing of civilian targets in an impotent Lebanon may be politically expedient but it says that United States considers it all right to deliberately bomb civilian installations and killing innocent civilians for the cause of punishing Hezbollah.

Roth, 2002] argues that disregard for civilian life must not be condoned, "The pathology that led a group of men to attack thousands of civilians on September 11 may never be understood, but it is essential to understand the mores that would countenance such mass murder as a legitimate political tool. Sympathy for such crimes is the breeding ground for terrorism, and sympathizers are potential recruits. Building a stronger human rights culture -- one in which any disregard for civilian life is condemned rather than condoned -- is essential for defeating terrorism in the long run."

September 11 has given many dictatorial and repressive regimes a chance to crush legitimate opposition which in the name of 'fighting terrorism'. These countries can do what they like with their dissidents while they support U.S. efforts in fighting terrorism against Bin Laden and his sympathizers.

Fight against terrorism will be helped greatly by U.S. support for international law. U.S. have constantly refused to ratify many of the international treaties relating to international convention on human rights. United States has a decent record on human rights but asking for special treatment on many of these issues has not gone well with international community. Our go-it-alone policy on Iraq, failure to find any weapon of mass destruction in the country and the much publicized breaches of the rules of war have not helped in the international war against terrorism. United States government needs to review its policies on support for international laws to protect us from terrorism.

Roth, 2002] finds that failure to ratify international human Rights law has placed us in an awkward position. He argues that, "The administration is thus in the uncomfortable position of seeking global law enforcement cooperation to protect its own citizens from terrorism while trying to undermine a global law enforcement institution that many governments rightfully see as essential for protecting others from comparably severe crimes."

We need to follow policies that can at least satisfy our traditional allies on working together for a terrorism free world. Vociferous support for democratic reforms should not be limited to countries opposing U.S. policies but our 'allies' should also know that democratic reforms and respect for human rights will be a condition for U.S. support. United States has a great deal of respect for its humanitarian stance on most international issues. Real support for democratic reforms and withdrawal of support from cruel autocratic, non-representative dictators, kings and emirs and namesake democracies will only enhance U.S. prestige and reduce the risk of terrorism on our soil as well as to our interests abroad.

Protecting Ourselves from Terrorism- b) Domestic Measures

Soon after the 9/11, tragedy U.S. government took steps to strengthen anti-terrorism measure on home front. The measures have been largely successful and United States has remained safe from even minor incidents involving terrorism. The Office of Homeland Security has stressed that this incident-free period is due to actions taken to reduce threat of terrorism on U.S. soil and several terrorist attempts were foiled by advance intelligence.

The threat of terrorism requires us to prevent both domestic and international terrorists and their sympathizers from causing harm to our country. In doing so what can keep the United States great will be our desire and effort to protect civil liberties, avoid racial isolation of our citizens and achieve the result with least possible impact on democracy and freedoms.

We are fortunate to have a free press, people with a concern for freedom and
...We can therefore be reasonably sure that actions by the executives will be closely scrutinized and fighting terrorism will not unduly invade on democracy and civil rights.

The law enacted in response to Sept. 11 terrorism is known as 'Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act 2001 (PATRIOT Act 2001). This Act gives the government broad power and discretion in acting to fight terrorism.

Some of the powers given o the executives under this act have come under criticism as against the 5th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. Section 411 of the Act, for example, makes an alien resident responsible for the acts of terrorism, if they even unknowingly supplied material assistance (food and shelter) to a terrorist.

Section 412 permits indefinite detention of a suspected terrorist. There are time limits specified for the detention but 'a reading of the statute, however reveals that detention may be continued indefinitely through a series of additional six-month periods, if the attorney general continues to believe that the alien poses a threat to national security or to the safety of others' [Grebinar, 2003]. In most cases, the law limits this detention to seven days after which the detainee has either to be charged for act of terrorism or deported. Civil rights advocates assert that detention without charge even for seven days negates the right of 'Due Process' allowed to aliens under our constitution. Freezing of assets of suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations, keeping track of terrorist sympathizers, racial profiling are some other measures being used to counter terrorism.

A major concern for democracy and freedom is that the laws are not used to victimize Americans as well as aliens of their rights granted under the Constitution, as this is a major difference between United States and 'non democratic lawless dictatorships' in some countries. [Roth, 2002] criticizing the application of the law of detention under the PATRIOT Act states, "The U.S. government detained over 1,000 suspects following the September 11 attacks but threw a shroud of secrecy over the cases, making it impossible to determine whether detention powers were being used appropriately. As best as can be determined, only one suspect has been charged in connection with the September 11 attacks -- Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged "20th hijacker" who was already in custody on September 11. Most of the detainees are charged with minor crimes or immigration offenses yet are denied the usual bail and held in maximum security jails for little reason other than that they are young males of a certain religion and national origin.

While we can control the terrorism by closing our doors to all individuals from certain countries, keeping taps on all our citizens, depriving U.S. citizens of the freedoms and rights given by the constitution, we surely would not like this to happen. Fortunately, United States has all the checks and balances in place and we can look forward to keeping the United States terrorist free with minimal sacrifices of democratic norms, personal freedom, privacy and freedom of expression that makes United States great!


United States needs to encourage and practice respect of international laws on human rights. What makes this country great has been our love and respect for the laws and the Constitution. Our record on human rights is second to none. As the sole superpower, we have an obligation to encourage both our friends and others to respect the human rights, observe international human rights and not be the supporters of dictatorial regimes who commit human right violations on their own people.

PATRIOT Act and increased vigilance has protected us from any repeat of 9/11. We need to ensure that the Sections of the Act, objectionable from the viewpoint of our own Constitution are either removed or applied with extreme caution and with full authority and permission of our Courts. We have to ensure that the executive authorities in the rush to curb terrorism do not crush our freedom of expression, freedoms and liberties we all love and cherish. United States is not great because it is rich; Kuwait and some other countries have a higher per capita income. What makes us great are the things that are at risk in our fight against terrorism and we have to ensure that human rights, personal liberties and freedom of expression of all Americans (and yes the aliens too) given to them by our…

Sources Used in Documents:


Reisman, W.M., International Legal Responses to Terrorism, Houston Journal of International Law, Volume 22, Issue 1, 1999

Grebinar, J., Responding to Terrorism: How Must a Democracy Do It? A Comparison of Israeli and American Law, Fordham Urban Law Journal, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2003

Roth, K., Misplaced Priorities: Human Rights and the Campaign against Terrorism, Harvard International Review. Volume 24, Issue 3, 2002

Charters, D.A. (Editor), The Deadly Sin of Terrorism: Its Effect on Democracy and Civil Liberty in Six Countries, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. 1994

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