This week we are asked to evaluate and provide an opinion on whether or not the counter-terrorism policies of the United States negatively affects the rights and liberties of its citizens. Before I can offer my personal opinion on the subject I feel it is important to discuss what those policies consist of and how it affects law-abiding citizens. Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the United States has significantly increased counter-terrorism efforts which mostly involved information collection and port of debarkation security. Information collection includes eavesdropping on phone-calls, e-mail use, monitoring social media activity, and photo captures through government interactions (Taylor, 2017). This type of information has been conducted by the National Security Agency and to date has not been identified as having a significant impact on stopping large-scale terrorist acts but it has shown success in identifying and stopping funding of terrorist groups. While the intent of the information data collection is to identify nefarious actors, I do feel that some information was gained due to loopholes in the policy or lack of congressional oversight. Left unchecked, information collection could negatively affect individual rights and civil liberties.
Port of debarkation security involves enhanced security measures at airports, seaports, and train stations that travel within the United States and internationally. This concept was designed around trade-offs between tax increase cost to relative security as well as civil liberties (Finkelstein, Mansfield, Wood, Rowe, Chay & Ozdemir, 2017). Tax increases were needed to purchase new equipment, to hire and train Transportation Security Agency screeners, and to track analytics involved in the screening process. The trade-off for civil liberties involved relinquishing privacy that is a natural occurrence due to body screenings, pat-downs, and having personal items rummaged through. While these are mild to significant inconveniences, I do not feel that they negatively affected individual rights or liberties.
There is a moral cost that citizens and law makers need to evaluate and establish boundaries in order to protect law-abiding member from having their rights and liberties violated. It is my opinion that certain counter-terrorism policies, such as information collection, negatively impact citizens without providing an equal trade-off in preventing large-scale terrorist attacks. These violations will only grow in occurrence and degree of severity until the citizens utilize the voice of the people and challenge lawmakers to reform those policies.
Finkelstein, E. A., Mansfield, C., Wood, D., Rowe, B., Chay, J., & Ozdemir, S. (2017). Trade-Offs between Civil Liberties and National Security: A Discrete Choice Experiment. Contemporary Economic Policy, 35(2), 292–311. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy1.apus.edu/10.1111/coep.12188
Taylor, I. (2017). Data collection, counterterrorism and the right to privacy. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 16(3), 326–346. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/1470594X17715249
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