Homeland Security

Posted: October 09, 2016

Homeland Security

Laws Passed by the Congress to Counter Terrorism

The United States of America Patriot Act was established after the September 11, 2001, terror attack. Its aim is to preserve life and liberty of the people in America.  Patriot Act was to permit investigators to use the tools available to investigating terrorism, such as the tools used in drug trafficking and organized crime investigations. It also facilitates the cooperation and sharing of information among government agencies so that they can effectively meet the goal of protecting the nation. The act also looks into the new technology and updates the law so as to meet the prevention of the involved threats. It also imposes severe punishment for those who engage in terrorism activities. This Act is supported by other laws so that the state can successfully meet the goal of counter terrorism in the nation and also around the globe.

The congress has also made some other laws and regulation directed to counter terrorism. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was directed by the congress to develop the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program so that the sale and transfer of the product would be regulated (Department of Homeland Security, n.d). This is meant to prevent the use or misappropriation of ammonium nitrate to execute terrorism activities.

The Homeland Security Appropriation Act was formulated in 2007 where the Congress mandated the department of Homeland Security with the development of risk-based standards of performance aiming at enhancing the security of chemical facilities that are of high risk within the first six months of its enactment. The congress created the Chemical facility Anti-Terrorism Standards so that security for chemical facilities could be enhanced. The Chemical facility Anti-Terrorism Standards required the development of techniques for vulnerability assessment, and also the establishment and implementation of a site security plan targeting high-risk chemical facilities (Homeland Security, n.d.). Another Act that is created is the Critical Infrastructure Information Act, which facilitates information sharing between the operators of the infrastructures and the government agencies with the obligation of protection responsibility of infrastructures (Department of Homeland Security).  Other laws include the Public Health Security, the Bioterrorism Preparedness, Response Act, and Travel Regulations in the United States.

Rights of the People in the United States

Treaties on human rights that have been signed and ratified by the United Stated of America provides that people in the nation have the right to political freedom, equal protection and right to due process regardless of their nationality (Cole, 2003). The International Covenant on Political and Civil rights protects all the people in the nations, demanding that peoples’ rights should be granted and protected by the states without discrimination. Some of the rights that should be respected and granted equally include the right to life, equality before the courts, the right of freedom of torture and arbitrary arrest and also freedom of opinion, religion, conscience, expression, and thought.

All people within the United States of America re-granted the freedom of expression. This offers protection of all the speeches, including those of inanimate corporations and non-nationalist. However, the rights of non-nationals are limited such that their freedom of expression is not allowed when it comes to facing the immigration power. Noncitizens in America are provided with the right to join political groups or to criticize the government officials without fear of apprehension, but many people are departed for engaging in these activities, hence showing that non-citizens rights are limited in the United States (Cole, 2003).

Citizens and non-citizens are also offered the right to life, to own property and the right to liberty. The government has the mandate to ensure that all the citizens and non-citizens are protected from abuse of their rights by the due process. It is only under certain exemption recognized by the government whereby a person’s rights are limited. These rights and circumstance should be applied equally to the citizens and non-citizens in the country.

Patriot Act

Patriot Act includes various guidelines that are directed towards establishing effective ways to counter terrorism (USA Department of Justice, n.d). First, it facilitates information sharing among the law enforcers and enhances their cooperation.  The law enforcers, national defense, and intelligence communities are now able to talk and coordinate their operations because this Act removed the barriers that existed hindering the agencies from working together. Information sharing, communication, and coordination of the various law enforcement communities has enabled the identification of terrorist plans which assist the law enforcers in planning for the tactical operation aimed at preventing the execution of those plans. Second, the Patriot Act gives the investigators the right to use the tools that exist to counter-terrorism, such tools used to investigate drug trafficking and organized crime. Law enforcers are allowed to use surveillance such as electronic surveillance to investigate on terrorism activities and also related terror activities including the use of mass destruction, terrorism financing, chemical weapons offenses and also the killing of Americans living in other nations.  It also allows the law enforcers to use roving wiretaps to investigate particular suspects of terrorism.  This Act also authorizes the agents to request for an order from the court so that they can obtain business information and records in cases involving national security terrorism.

The Act also requires that the law should reflect on the new technology and threats emerging so that it is updated accordingly. It permits the victims of cyber crimes to request or assistance from the law enforces so that the trespasser can be monitored and investigated. It also permits the law enforcers to obtain search warrants from the within the jurisdiction courts of the area in which terrorist crimes have been committed.  Finally, the Act has increased the punishment for those who commit terrorist activities. It prohibits the accused terrorist from being harbored.  It also imposes inadequate maximum penalties on crimes that are most likely to be committed in relation to terrorism, which include the destruction of energy facilities, arson, destruction of materials of national defense and materials supporting terrorist organizations and terrorist. This Act has induced punishment for Bioterrorists and terror attacks on mass transit systems. It also eliminates some limitations that were contained in other statutes related to terrorism crimes and lengthen them to various terrorist crimes (USA Department of Justice, n.d).

It has been the objective of the US government to prevent the occurrence of another terror attack since the September 1, 2001, attack. The objective would not have been successful without the existence of the USA Patriot Acts.  The Patriot Acts has enhanced the ability of the states’ to prevent, investigate and prosecute activities related to terrorism. The success of the Act in preventing terror attack has been facilitated by the ability of various agencies of law enforcement to work together. It has also considered technology advancement and designed the law in a way that it responds to the new threat related to new technology. It also enhanced the investigation and prosecution of terrorist crimes that would not be punished prior to this Act.

Role of CBP and ICE

The two groups were formed within the Homeland Security department with a mandate to protect the US borders, especially with concerns of entry and exist of person. CBP and ICE play roles in effective counterterrorism because they manage, control and protect entry of people in the nation especially those who are viewed to be terrorist (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, n.d). The officers working in these groups also identify materials and weapons that might be a threat to the nation and those that have the potentiality on executing terrorist activities.

The Custom and Border Protection workforce play roles of managing, controlling and protecting the national borders. Their main objective is to counter terrorism and facilitate legitimate travels and trades. CBP protects the United States from terrorist activities and reduces its vulnerability to terrorist threats through multiple levels of the inspection process (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, n.d). CBP assesses all passengers driving, flying, arriving by ship or walking in the United States of America from abroad so that they can search for potential terrorists, terrorist risks, illegal immigration, counterfeited goods, prohibited agricultural products and illegal drugs. The work of CBP is facilitated by high technology facilities that help them to identify cargoes and people possessing items that cause threats to the safety and security of the nation.

On the other hand, Immigration and Customs Enforcement seeks to prevent terror attacks against the nation and aim to dismantle threats imposed on Homeland Security prior to their materializing. They prevent entry people and materials that are potential threats to the safety and security of the people.  They also investigate and remove terrorists, and prevent the export of dangerous weapons and sensitive technology that can cause harm to the nation, its allies and the people. ICE works with other partners in Intelligence community and law enforcers in detecting and preventing terrorist activities through financial support, communication and attack preparation for the US. ICE divisions such as the National Security Division, oversees the anti-terrorism operations that are conducted through the offices of ICE but work closely with the FBIs.  ICE has been known for eliminating and disrupting terrorist networks and cells in the country. ICE uses law enforcement tools that are provided by the executive order  and legislation, to target potential terrorists and criminals and apprehend than for deportation or prosecution proceedings. They also have a duty to secure and manage the borders, and ensure that immigration laws are followed where they have a duty to enforce and administer the laws.

Technology and Homeland Security

Technology is a double-edged sword since it can be used to counter terrorism and also be used by terrorist to execute their activities. Technology is used as a tool by the homeland security to counter-terrorism. Communication interception has been on the most effective ways of fighting terrorism. Terrorists must communicate with each other hence when their communication intercepted it will enable the law enforcers to gather important information concerning the terrorist operation.  The United States is also pressurizing the internet Service Providers to create a blocking option for extremist groups so that the information from extremist groups or terrorist will be prevented from access by the public, hence reducing the potential recruitment of the terrorist organizations. Technology has also been used to design instruments that can be used to detect terrorists such as a thermal camera system, Remote Video Surveillance System, and Mobile Surveillance System used mostly in entry points in the state (US Department of Homeland Security, 2015).

Technology as a target is also used to counter terrorism, whereby the states identify the most technology tools that are likely to be used by the terrorist to attack. Security is enhanced for these particular threats. Laws are formulated that prohibit the import of weapons and materials that would be a threat safety and security of the people such as nuclear materials, biological weapons, and chemical materials. The government also enhances security at the entrance points where people and materials coming into the country are assessed and those that may be of threat to the state are identified and prevented from entering the state.

Current Status of Our Nation's Border Security

The United States has strived to counter terrorism and protect the nation from terror attacks by dealing with threats to security. This has been enabled by investing in the personnel, infrastructure, and technology to deal with the threat. According to the US Department of Homeland Security (2015), more workforce has been recruited in the Border Patrol, Custom and Border protection, Immigration, and Customs Enforcement so that assessment of the people and material entry into the nation is enhanced. Technology has also been used to design instruments that are used to detect and materials that may threaten the security of a state such as bombs, nuclear weapons, and chemicals among others.

An international partnership has also enhanced security along the borders. In 2011, President Obama and the Prime Minister of Canada signed a partnership on a shared vision for economic competitiveness and perimeter security. The aim of this partnership was to ensure that safety, resilience and security for Canada and the United States were enhanced through addressing threats identified.  In 2010, president Obama and Calderon had issued a declaration on the 21st Century Border Management, to facilitate the flow of goods and people in a legitimate manner and to focus on resources of law enforcement that detect and identify materials and people that present higher risks (US Department of Homeland Security, 2015).

However, the increased terror attacks in other nations such as Paris, San Bernardina, California, and France are increasing the worry on the security of America. The recent daily reports from the media for the spread of Islamic State groups is increasing the worry for insecurity and also the increased number of refugees freeing from the Middle East (US Department of Homeland Security, 2015). Security has been focused on the possible threats, whereby law enforcement is enhancing surveillance and screening of the people entering the country and their materials. Refugees are also monitored and their details obtained by the government making it easier for them to be traced in case they commit crimes. The government must also contribute to the fight against terrorism worldwide so that security of the globe is enhanced through counter terrorism and to reduce the effects felt when other national experience terror attacks.

Guantanamo Bay prison

Guantanamo Bay prison is the longest-standing war prison in the history of the United States. About 800 men have gone through the prison where only 91 men remaining today. It is located on an island outside the US law and used to detain terrorism suspects without the use of legal process and interrogation without restraints (Spencer, Cohen, Phillips, & Kochems, 2005).

Guantanamo Bay prison violates fundamental human rights. This prison is known to have been used to detain prisoners of war and should be entitled to treatment in accordance with the international laws for war prisoners. But the United States has not declared any war officially, hence they only refer the name of the war on terror. In these prisons are denied the right to fair trials, and public hearing by the tribunals. This prison is viewed as a symbol of Muslim discrimination since most of the inmates are Muslim; hence, this facility has been used to fuel terrorist sentiments and to recruit terrorists. Therefore, Guantanamo Bay Prison is should be closed and prisoners detained in this prison transferred to other prisons. Guantanamo prisons undermine intelligence efforts since most of the detainees are interrogated to so that they can provide information  that could help the intelligence officer in their investigations. However, the information obtained is not worked to be used for this work.

Homeland Security threats

Homeland security has aims at fighting terrorism in the coming of all kinds through the use of technology and also to protect the terrorist targets, one of the challenges that they department experience in its fight for Nukes (nuclear weapons) that pose a serious threat to security is the existence if black market trade which enable the terrorist to acquire nuclear weapons. It has become very difficult to stamp out the black market trade because the state it is not aware of their existence and is conducted in hiding.

Cyber-attacks are still a threat to security and has not been solved effectively by the security agents. This problem is brought about by the tendency of the terrorist groups to ensure that they keep on top of the technology, and utilized the most recent one in executing terrorist activities. Since technology advancement cannot be prevented, it becomes difficult for the state to do away with this crime. The state has been aiming to use the bio-technology to counter terrorism and also to deal with biological threats. To prevent the deadly viruses from being used to cause mass casualties, one of the barriers experienced in developing this technology is to estimate the accurate insight and time of the potential attack. A research committee is formed to work on the problem, but the problem is that they are working at a very low pace, hence making it impossible to keep-up with the terrorists (Erwin, Magnuson, Parsons, & Tadjdeh, 2012). 

For the state to effectively deal with the challenges encountered in security, it will require a more skilled workforce that will keep track with the technology advancement. Surveillance should be enhanced so that weapons and materials that are of the threat to the state can be detected and people engaging in the black-market trade of weapons identified. The government should also establish severe penalties for law enforcers and government officials who engage in corruption and allow the passage of threatening people and materials into the country, and also those who support terrorist groups financially.

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