The Post 9/11 Counterterrorism Initiatives
The 11th of September, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US were extremely gruesome. Subsequently, a concerted effort was made by the various components of the federal government to enhance the safety of the people. All of a sudden homeland security occupied centre stage in national affairs, and a budgetary allocation of $10. 6 billion was made for this purpose, for the year 2002. These initiatives have laid the foundation for a US that will not only be stronger but also more secure (Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 2002).
In this endeavor, the USA PATRIOT Act was implemented, which has modified federal laws, so that they take into account the rapid changes to communications. This act has made it mandatory for the Department of Treasury to direct financial institutions to properly identify persons opening accounts with them. It has provided immunity to institutions that had willingly revealed the details of suspicious transactions. In addition, it had provided for more severe penalties for money laundering (Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 2002).
This Act changed the definition of terrorism and its related activities in the Nationality Act, so that it a larger category of persons inimical to the US and is beliefs can be disallowed from entering the US. Moreover, the Attorney General has been empowered to take into custody, aliens whom he deems to constitute a threat to national security. Fighting terrorism entails the expenditure of a large amount of money; and this issue has been taken care of by this Act, which has authorized massive grants for the purpose.
It has been anticipated, that these additional funds will enable the state and local governments to improve the sharing of information regarding terrorism, amongst the various law enforcement agencies; and enable these governments to prevent and respond to terrorism in a vastly improved manner (Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 2002). In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was constituted by Congressional legislation in the year 2002.
The purpose of this commission was to make a thorough study of these attacks and to suggest comprehensive measures to prepare for and immediately respond to such attacks in the future (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 2004). Nevertheless, the initial enthusiasm has not obtained results to the extent desired. Even six years after September 11, 2001; the Department of Homeland Security or DHS was found to be unequal to the task of ensuring that homeland security funds were being used to enhance the security of the citizens.
Moreover, in the year 2007, Congress proposed a bill that would require the DHS to concentrate on additional grants and duties that would effectively divert it from its principal objective of providing funds for strategic concerns. Furthermore, several research studies have indicated that these federal funds have not encouraged national preparedness, but have only replaced amounts being spent by the state and local governments in this context.
The need of the hour is for Congress to set aside minimum grant allocations, significantly improve corresponding prerequisites for the allocation of such funds, merge the various categories of grants and direct the DHS to thoroughly evaluate national capabilities in this regard (Mayer & Carafano, 2007). A number of novel measures, in respect of the law enforcement agencies, were introduced by the Home land Security Act of 2002.
For instance, Internet Service Providers are protected from being held liable for providing information about subscribers to these law enforcement agencies, which greatly facilitates the latter to identify and locate persons suspected of indulging in terrorist activities. Moreover, this Act exhorts private industry to inform the government about the weaknesses in their electronic security; and provides for exemption from its dissemination to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (Hart, 2007. P. 435).
The terrorist attacks on the US on the 11th of September, 2001 and the terrorist bomb attacks in the UK on the 7th of July, 2005 have led to the enactment of important legislation that addressed the security of these countries. For instance, the Anti- Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the USA Patriot Act 2001 are replete with provisos that enhance the potential of the various law enforcement agencies in dealing with terrorist activities (Goold & Lazarus, 2007. Pp. 45 – 46).
These Acts have vastly expanded the extant information gathering and monitoring networks in the UK and the US. In addition, these Acts have brought about greater information sharing between the law enforcement agencies at various levels. This has resulted in a much greater dissemination of personal information, which is essential for combating terrorism (Goold & Lazarus, 2007. Pp. 45 – 46).