Government Response to Terrorism and Civil Liberties

Government Response to Terrorism and Civil Liberties


Terror attack is an intended use of violence against noncombatant with an aim to obtain goals that are political, religious or other violence disturbances in nature. The USA FBI defines terrorism as the illegal use of force. A terrorist attack is enhanced through harassment, installation of fear, coups, nuclear attacks and other unexpected attacks. To counter terrorist acts, the FBI agency is given the priority by the citizens and the government. However, terrorism is heightening, and everyone is debating on mitigation strategies.

Homeland security and civil liberties

Is there balance between the state security and the core civil rights given by the U.S Constitution? The question helps one to think of the relationship between state security and civil liberties. It can be persuasively argued that surrendering individual rights makes the citizens less free rather than securing them against terrorism. The USA Patriot Act composes extensive surveillance strategies. That is, it allows the FBI and other government investigative organs to track internet usage and obtain the financial statements, business records as well as the educational records (Mack & Kelly, 2004). The act has helped eliminate hindrances resulting from privacy rights that prevent or delay the investigations. The USA Patriot Act allows the FBI to access and monitor communication and communication records (Mack & Kelly, 2004). The powers are exercised without citizen’s consent or warrant. The act shows the level to which the surveillance measures can disrupt the current balance between national security and civil rights.

According to the recent research, it is clear that there is no point of equilibrium between the state security and civil liberties. The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) demands a re-examination of the equilibrium between the civil rights and the state security to achieve its dual objectives of preventing prevailing attacks and maintaining the devotion to the US Constitution (Mack & Kelly, 2004). The strained relations between national security and civil liberties is more complicated with the immigration policy separation of powers, criminal law, and privacy among others. Recently, the current USA president Donald Trump banned gun ownership, which has been causing multiple deaths. Initially, individuals were legally allowed to own a gun for personal defense matters. In this scenario, the national security seems to be in the balance with civil liberty since innocent lives are protected and saved. However, Americans are not ready to sacrifice their civil liberties.

The security issues will outperform the freedom of US citizens. Already, privacy is compromised since the communication details can be accessed by the investigative organizations. In 2016, US president, Donald Trump, passed the immigration law, which will affect every citizen directly or indirectly. Freedom of movement is a global human right. Nonetheless, in the United States, the Immigration Act of 2016 restrains the movement. Moreover, other restrictions will continue to arise with the aim of “securing my Nation.”

Function of Patriot Act in developing the use of fusion centers across the United States

National Security Agencies (NSA) provide warrantless, illegally fetched data to law-enforcement organs for their investigations (Mack & Kelly, 2004). They can give the information through fusion centers and “special operation forums.” Fusion centers are places where the data is collected, illegal or legal by the federal agencies such as Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and NSA among others. Later, the information is given out to the law-enforcement agencies for their criminal investigations. The Fusion centers were set up after 9/11. The Patriot Act eliminated impediments that hindered the intelligence agencies from sharing information with law enforcement agencies. The Act enhanced communication between agencies hence decisions were made easily to prevent terrorism targets (Mack & Kelly, 2004). However, this practice is misused and applied on the American citizens instead of crime defendant only.

The planned results in developing U.S. fusion centers across the country

The concept of fusion center was developed as grassroots efforts in regions like New York, Georgia, Los Angeles, and Arizona (Mack & Kelly, 2004). The key intended outcome for developing fusion centers was to facilitate communication between intelligence agency and law enforcement agency. That is, it was designed to transfer the counterterrorism (CT) intelligence from local communities to federal levels and vice versa (Mack & Kelly, 2004). Through fusion centers, the U.S government expected to counter terrorist attack and respond to national crises. In addition, it was intended to organize local intelligence assembling into an integrated system that could spread the information vertically and horizontally across the agencies.

Short-term impacts and outcomes of using fusion centers

Both positive (benefits) and adverse effects accompanied development of fusion centers. It facilitated communication among the agencies to prevent terrorism. There was an efficient flow of information from one agency to another. That is, intelligence agencies like NSA and DIA were able to communicate on the criminal suspects in all the states to the law-enforcement agencies. Subsequently, the security agencies can prevent and mitigate terrorist acts all over the country.

However, there are negative consequences reported. For instance, through the Patriot Act, the barriers that hindered proper communication were eliminated. The agencies abused the Act by focusing overall American population instead of concentrating on the crime suspects solely. However, the NSA argues that no one should fear investigation if they are not criminals. Besides, terrorists are the ones who fear investigation. It is argued that the feds use their power to harass political opponents. As a result, the conspiracy between security agencies, local and state government, foreign government, and private groups has been rapidly increasing since the Information Sharing Environment was developed in 2004, and every group or individual want to seek favors from the security agencies. In 2009-2010, the Senate permanent subcommittee investigated the competence of the fusion centers, and the raised report was incredibly poor. It indicated that among all the reports raised by the various security agencies, they could not identify any report that uncovered any terrorist move. Then it can be convincingly argued that there is a higher possibility that the security agencies are collaborating with terrorists. Furthermore, they raised an embarrassing report regarding the fusion center personal spending on large screen televisions worth $ 75000.

Long-term advantages and results of fusion centers

The primary long-run advantage of the fusion centers is the success of the homeland security. According to the national security, 2007, the agency described the role of the fusion centers as to develop the corporate network that facilitates sharing of the information among the local, states and federal agencies. Consequently, the department of the national security has created 77 fusion centers since 2003. The fusion centers are owned and operated by the local and state agencies with help from federal entity through technology, training, and funding. Although the aim or mission of the persistent transparency remains unchanged, the emergence of the fusion centers creates new challenges and chances. The directors continue to advance their policies, clarify their priorities (to mitigate terrorism) and develop baseline operative criteria (Mack & Kelly, 2004).

What are two other particular response strategies to the terrorism in the United States?

The U.S. FBI categorizes the terrorist threat into two broad divisions, the domestic and international terrorism. The division has improved the homeland security since the specialized personnel observe each terrorist background keenly. The domestic terrorism is the illegal use of violence by the group or an individual located and operating primarily within the United States of America or perhaps within its territories without foreign control or demand against the government or the civilian population in a promotion of political or social aims (Mack & Kelly, 2004). On the other hand, international terrorism is the unlawful use of violence or the acts that endanger human life. In addition, it is the violation of laws of the United States expressed as the criminal violation and committed within the territories of the United States or its boundaries. The acts are intended to terrify or scare the noncombatant population, influence the government policy, or affect the government performance.

When were these tactics implemented?

Although the terrorist acts persisted, the event of September 11, 2001, was severe leaving the Americans in lots of pain for their relatives and the properties, which were lost in the attack. The attack demonstrated with horrific clarity that the U.S also handles the critical problems from the international terrorists. Subsequently, the Al-Qaeda terrorist group under the leadership of Usama Bin Laden has clearly seen as the most crucial threat to the United States interests. According to the research, conducted regarding the attack, there was clear and irrefutable evidence that Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden were involved. The military and law-enforcement entities in the United States has done much to debilitate the Al-Qaeda organizational structures and its capabilities. The Al-Qaeda is down but not out. This called for the need to divide the specific respondent tactics with an aim alleviating terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and others.

What is the purpose of these tactics?

The tactics were developed to facilitate easier and faster investigation regarding the crimes committed and prevent the ongoing planned terror attacks in U.S as well as to the other nations. The changing nature of terrorism was reported, and they needed to investigate the causes and end its roots. They found that the Al-Qaeda member has traveled from country to country with fake interest in business. Besides they survive with money raised through dirty operations such as fraud of credit card, extortion, and drug trafficking. In addition, they wanted to identify the state-sponsored terrorism and the non-state terrorism. The strategy also was to investigate how the terrorists are funded and who support them. As a result, it was clear that the state sponsored terrorism is funded by the respective states while the non-state terrorism works for the private organizations. The increased terrorist groups is a great threat to human life thus should be ended. The United States and other nations called for the ban of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in all the states. It is reported that there is increased use of radiological, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by the terrorists causing numerous deaths every year. The WMD was banned to eliminate the threat against human life by the government or the private groups, which might negotiate with terrorists.

How are civil liberties addressed concerning these tactics?

Rosenzweig and Michael (2003) argue that there is need to protect civil liberties while combating terrorism. Following the September 11 attack, the intelligence, law-enforcement and counterterrorism agencies were urged to improve their strategies to discover and counter the terrorist plans before another attack could occur. The war on terrorism has changed its route, and it is likely to be the longer one. Nonetheless, Americans are not ready for significant long-term degradation to surrender their civil liberties for the public safety. The U.S sponsor research programs such as Total Information Awareness (TIA). To curb crime acts, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) started Information Awareness Office (IOA) to manage the TIA research schedule. However, the TIA schedule is criticized for interfering with the Americans private life (Mack & Kelly, 2004). Although the tactics are developed to improve tactics of discovering and mitigating terrorism, they interfere with Americans private life, which is against their wish.

Are these tactics effective at fulfilling their intended purpose?

The tactic face challenges in discovering and terminating terrorism. However, it has succeeded to improve homeland security and try to maintain the balance between civil liberties and state security. Although there are few complaints regarding the interference with the private human life, the information obtained determines whether the terrorist attack is domestically or internationally generated. We can convincingly say that the tactics used were effective since they were able to bring down the terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. They say that Al-Qaeda is “wounded but alive” it many indicates that the organization will arise again, but for now, the most importantly is that the group is down (Mack & Kelly, 2004). The Al-Qaeda group is categorized as the international terrorism; therefore, it was easier to counter the group.


The United States may struggle and raise significant efforts in fighting terrorism, but the nation end up losing the battle, or if they win, they never manage to stop the barbaric terror attacks absolutely. Everyone is debating on how to terminate terrorism. However, the terrorists are among us in our societies. The country is responsible for educating its citizens to be loyal and to report all the crime suspects in their community. In doing so, the small groups of terrorists will be eliminated thus maintaining the state security. Moreover, the state, which sponsors terrorist organizations, should withdraw their support to ensure that the organizations lack funds and other requirements needed to commit the attack. The use of WMD should be illegal worldwide to ensure the criminals will not access the weaponry and be able to detect any move they made. In general, all nations should unite and fight against terrorism. It is the only way that will end terrorism. Otherwise, the terrorist attack will continue increasing every day.

Conclusively, both civil liberties and homeland security are equally important, and the government should work for its equilibrium. However, the United States government seem to support the state safety, and some of the American’s private life is interfered with. If sacrificing civil liberties will improve the national security then it is worth it. Human life is in danger due to the increase in terrorism. The government has set up tactics to counter the attacks.


Mack, R. L., & Kelly, M. J. (2004). Equal justice in the balance: America’s legal responses to the emerging terrorist threat.

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