Example Of Research Paper On Terrorism
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Ever since the attacks on 9/11, the United States has maintained a sense of national security in order to defend itself with terrorists, particularly the terrorist group Al-Qaeda (which was responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers). Given the immense number of resources that have been put in place following those attacks, as well as the diminished status of Al-Qaeda in recent years due to the death of Osama bin Laden and the rise of other groups like ISIL to threaten and challenge America, America’s relative readiness for these measures is comparatively high.
That being said, there are still some issues that linger, such as state-level inadequacies in the existing methods of preventing terrorism (Terrorism Readiness, 2003). Staff can often find itself without the critical training needed to effectively complete duties, and does not perform state-level terrorism readiness exercises. Apart from these issues (which may have been addressed in recent years), there is every reason to believe that the United States security apparatus is sufficiently high to deal with major terrorist attacks. However, these measures may come at a cost, and it is never easy to completely control or predict the actions of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda; due to their covert nature, and their status as a non-state actor, it is much harder to stop attacks that occur because there is no state apparatus officially supporting them. This was a particular fear in the early years of post-9/11 America; paranoia about splinter cells, anthrax in envelopes, and radicalized Muslim citizens was at an all-time high following the attacks, leaving us wondering whether or not we were truly ready to defend ourselves against an enemy that did not have an official sanction.
The central question that lies with anti-terrorism activities is the line between freedom and security, and what compromises have to be made to ensure our continued survival. Since 9/11, a number of changes have been made to American law enforcement, military and legislative procedure to increase security at the cost of certain freedoms. As intelligence is a much more valuable commodity in defending against terrorists than military might, it is much harder to visualize attacking terrorists in a traditional war or battle. Thus, the Department of Homeland Security was created in order to act as the intelligence apparatus for securing America from terrorist attacks.
Other changes to the security apparatus make fundamental changes to the level of freedom we experience: the PATRIOT Act, for example, allows the federal government to spy on the public covertly and gather information in order to combat terrorism, and, in recent years, the NSA has been revealed to have gathered an incredible amount of information on the average American citizen in order to monitor for potential threats. The TSA’s new airport security measures, including X-ray scanners, are also quite prevalent, and other changes have given the US government and military new ways of combating terrorism, oftentimes at the expense of our freedoms.
In our open society, there are some fundamental advantages to democracy and freedom that can be used to keep ourselves same from Al-Qaeda. One of these advantages involves a high degree of patriotism and earnest nationalism due to America’s free status; most in America would likely find themselves preferring democracy to tyranny, and therefore are both less incentivized to attack it and more likely to report those they might suspect of attacking it. In this way, the ability to operate within a free society itself is the incentive needed to defend it, creating high morale and a loyal public. Ironically enough, it is because of this limited sense of freedom that we can be more certain that Al-Qaeda could not attack us; it is much harder to hide safely as an American citizen because of the surveillance the federal government commits on its own citizens.
At the same time, these same freedoms are often what terrorists use against us, exploiting our willingness to let individuals explore their destiny freely by abusing it to harm others. While America ostensibly grants the freedom for people to do what they want, those who decide to attack the country covertly can do so because of this lack of accountability or transparency. This is the kind of paranoia post-9/11 America frequently experienced and dealt with, as we began to distrust our fellow citizens and accused many of Middle Eastern descent of being terrorists or members of Al-Qaeda.
That being said, the current weakened state of Al-Qaeda, and the recent discovery of Draconian security measures used by the federal government to whittle away our freedoms, gives us reason to question the extent to which American citizens are ‘free’ in the first place. Currently, one of the reasons we can be reasonably certain of our intelligence apparatus is because of the incredible lack of freedom we secretly have, despite the outward appearance of having an open society. The recent NSA leaks revealing personal information gathering from the government agency may be effective as a blanket tactic to keep an eye out for potential terrorist activity, but it also diminishes the sense of freedom we may experience in America.
Chossudovsky, M. (January 2008). Al Qaeda and the ‘war on terrorism.’ Global Research.
Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/al-qaeda-and-the-war-on-terrorism/7718.
Elliot, K., & Rupar, T. (Dec 23, 2013). Six months of revelations. The Washington Post.
Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/nsa-timeline/.
Terrorism Readiness (July 2003). The Office of Homeland Security, Governor’s Office of
Emergency Services, and California National Guard Need to Improve Their Readiness to Address Terrorism. California State Auditor Report 2004-406.
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