Utilizing the Science of Criminology Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Policy Efficacy: Terrorist Activity since 9/


The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 changed the world forever. This one of the most successful and large-scale attacks in the history of transnational terrorism. These attacks sent effects and shockwaves into the everyday lives of Americans and New Yorkers for over a decade. This paper asks how the counterterrorist policies measure up? Are they working? How do we know if they are or not? The paper clearly defines the terms to be used and considered over the course of the discussion as a means to add transparency to an already vague and opaque topic. The paper concludes that counterterrorism tactics as they currently stand are ineffective for several reasons including lack of political, international cooperation and no standard by which to gauge policy efficacy.

Research & Policy Efficacy: Terrorist Activity since 9/11

Criminology is a truly a science of the nature of humanity on several planes. Criminology is concerned with specific sets of behaviors -- deviant and criminal. It seeks answers regarding the scope of criminal behavior in the individual and in society. Criminology, in a way, is an impossible task -- to understand human behavior in a scientific manner when often humans behave in ways inconducive to scientific study. The pursuit to understand the causes of, the nature of, extent of, and control of criminal behaviors is a noble one, nonetheless. Terrorism is a more prominent deviant and criminal behavior exhibited around the world today. Numerous countries are the sites of terrorist activities and many other countries are the targets of terrorist activity. Well-executed terrorist acts affect the world and most especially the location of the terrorism forever.

The terrorist activity that occurred in New York City on September 11, 2001, has altered several aspects of American culture. American law enforcement and government have made drastic changes to their policies regarding the prevention of, intervention of, and penalties for terrorist activities. The American people and specifically New Yorkers experience a new kind of vulnerability after this attack. Many Americans prayed and rallied for justice for the lives lost in the tragedy. Utilizing the science of criminology and with reference to policies implemented since September 11, 2001, the paper endeavors to evaluate how & if polices contribute to the prevention & response to terrorist threats from within a utilitarian framework.

Regardless of opinions on who was responsible for the terrorist activity, which destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, Americans, especially New Yorkers cannot deny that there have been drastic and vast amounts of policies regarding public safety, law enforcement, individual rights, and behavior appropriate for public spaces. These policies have changes the lives and perspectives of many Americans. The media/press, law enforcement agencies, and government agencies tell the public that the policy changes serve as protection for the average citizen from terrorism and other forms of danger. More than ten years have passed since terrorist act upon the World Trade Center. Have the lives of New Yorkers and Americans improved directly because of the policy changes since 9/11? Are we safer? Is there less terrorism in the country? Do the policy changes implemented since 9/11 reflect sound research? This paper examines policies implemented since September 11, 2001, proposing a standard by which the policies may be held against, a practical framework within which they can be considered, and then subsequently evaluates the efficacy of such policies.

Numerous policies regarding the prevention of terrorist behavior are now in effect in various areas of the country as well as specific areas of cities across American cities. The changes in policies regarding the prevention of terrorist behavior have changed American culture. Americans should consider what research was gathered that heavily contributed to the changes in policy and the subsequent changes in their culture. Americans should consider the agencies or bodies that conducted the research and how their missions and/or business allies' missions contributed to the way the researcher was conducted, who gathered the research, the standards & quality of the collection and analysis, and for what ends the results of the researched are used.

Changes in policies after 9/11 occur on several levels. Local law enforcement has new policies regarding response time, confirmation of activity, and dissemination of relevant resources to contain the situation. There is legislation that operates on the federal level in regards to which kinds of methods federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and Homeland Security can gather information and how they may use that information in investigations and litigations. There are augmented changes to policy regarding the rights of the average American citizen particularly under the condition a citizen is within the custody of an agency dedicated to the prevention of terrorist activity. With these changes and more, it is evident Americans whether in pursuit of terrorist prevention or not should be certain these policy changes have been well researched and that the policies in place accurately reflect that same quality research. These policies have and continue to affect the lives of a great deal of Americans on a daily basis in key areas. Americans should be sure that so many deep changes come from sound research and that there are no discrepancies between the research and the enforced policy.

Let the terms being considered by the paper be made transparent. What do we mean when we say terrorism? How is terrorism different from criminal and deviant behavior, or is it not so different? In "Collective vs. unilateral responses to terrorism," Sandler clearly states:

Terrorism is the premeditated use or threat of use of violence by individuals or subnational groups to obtain a political or social objective through intimidation of a large audience beyond that of the immediate victims. Terrorists try to circumvent the normal political process through violence perpetrated on a public who may then pressure the government to concede to the terrorists' demands. On 11 September 2001 (henceforth, 9/11), the four hijacked planes graphically illustrated the havoc and destruction that terrorists can wreak on society. (Sandler, 2005,-Page 75)

Terrorism involves planning. Just as premeditated murder necessitates a slightly different punishment than spontaneous murder or murder that was committed in self-defense, law enforcement agencies regard terrorism as in a category of its own, predicated on meticulous planning, adherence to detail, and posing as an average citizen. Terrorists have objectives; they are goal oriented. Though we may not agree with their methods of expression and ways of getting attention, we cannot deny that terrorists do not commit intense acts of violence for anarchic reasons.

There is always an intended message in conjunction with the violence of terrorism. The violence is often part of the message or the entire contents of the message itself, depending on the target and the collateral damage. One of the messages the terrorists sent to Americans on 9/11 is that the United States of America is just as vulnerable to attack by terrorists just as another country, which may not be as wealthy and prosperous as the United States of America. Terrorists do not wish to converse with audiences, as Sandler states, terrorists use intimidation to get our attention. Terrorists do not abide by political or legal processes. Terrorists use violence as a way to capture attention and leverage with the governing body to acquire their demands. Terrorism is brutal and blunt. Though terrorist activities often demand incredible attention to detail, the violence and after-effects they cause often leave quite a mess.

The paper attempts to be a specific with the terms in at hand for several reasons. One reason the paper seeks transparency is because that is an issue related to the efficacy of policies regarding terrorism. Critics of policies argue that the policies are not transparent, that the terms within the policies are too vague, providing unreasonable latitude to law enforcement and government agencies. This lack of transparency contributes to the abuse of power by these bodies that are paid and supposedly dedicated to the protection of the country and of the citizens that occupy it. Moving forward, there is domestic terrorism and there is transnational terrorism. Domestic terrorism occurs within one country. The terrorists who commit the acts are from the country they terrorize, or at least are residents or citizens of that country. Transnational terrorism contains terrorists that may or may not be from the country terrorized. Transnational terrorists may be from one country, travel to another, terrorize it, and then return home.

Why is the difference between domestic terrorism and transnational terrorism significant to acknowledge? Just as there is first-degree murder and second-degree murder, there are differences in the degrees of terrorism and these degrees directly affect policies regarding enforcement as well as punishment. Sandler elucidates:

At the outset, domestic terrorism must be distinguished from transnational terrorism. The former is solely a host country affair where its citizens resort to terrorist attacks on other citizens or their property with the intention of furthering a domestic…

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