After September, the eleventh attacks on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon in 2001, the United States congress passed several pieces of legislation directed at combating the threat of terrorism.
The main pieces of legislation passed to address the threat of terrorism in the United States are the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and the United States Patriotic act of 2001. The aim of these two-security acts was to lay down the mechanisms of ensuring that the United States is secure within its geographical borders ,and that another terrorism attack does not happen in America (Chertof,2009).
This paper evaluates the social, economic, and legal implications of the legislation of homeland security in the United States. The paper evaluates the implications of the legislation of homeland security through analyzing the provisions of the legislation, the tools, and the mechanisms provided by the two antiterrorism acts on combating terrorism.
The Homeland Security Act Of 2002 and the US patriotic act created the foundation for the creation of the Department Of Homeland Security in the United States. This department is a government agency dedicated to the maintenance of security in the United States. This department was created through a merger of 22 federal government agencies, and has over 180 000 staff in the year 2002 (Maniscallo & Christen, 2010).
The department of Homeland security is charged with the responsibility of preventing, and identifying any security threat on America’s homeland security, and assistance on recovery efforts in emergencies. The provisions of the homeland security act and the US patriotic act on combating terrorism are implemented through the Department Of Homeland Security (Messerli, 2011).
Since the enactment of the Homeland Security Act In 2002, and the Patriotic Act in 2001, the federal government has taken major strides in implementation of the act. There has been major successes attained through the implementation of the anti terrorism acts in the United States. One of the successes achieved through the implementation of the two acts is the creation of a functional department of homeland security (Saunter & Carafano, 2005).
The department of homeland security has streamlined the organization of both federal, and states agencies in the response disaster, and acts of terrorism. The oversight offered by the department of homeland security on security issues has made federal law enforcement, and security agents function better in the fight against terrorism, and, in disaster response (Ward, 2005).
The department of homeland security has also created the necessary infrastructure that can use the available resources in combating terrorism. The resources of the department of homeland security are organized under the umbrella body, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
These security infrastructures laid by the department of homeland security makes the United States government have proper mechanisms of addressing terrorism, and natural disasters. The homeland security acts, and the US patriotic act also serve as a source of laws of arresting, prosecution, and jailing of terrorism suspects (Chertof, 2009).
Although, the passing ,and enactment of Homeland Security Act in 2002 ,and the Us patriotic act in 2001 were a noble idea of addressing the security challenges of the United States , the legislation ,and the enactment of the two pieces of legislation has had many legal, social ,and economic implications to the American population. The adoption of the two pieces of legislation has generated wide debate among the American population because of some of the effects the pieces of legislation on many spheres of life of Americans (Ward, 2006).
One of the major economic implications of the legislation of homeland security is the huge costs involved in the implementation of the provisions of the homeland security act, and the US patriotic act. Homeland security covers land, sea, and air defenses. The cost of homeland security also involves the cost of running a national computer defense network for keeping the computerized information safe, and secure, and a national missile defense system (Saunter & Carafano, 2005).
The costs of maintaining homeland security also include the cost of running increased border, and immigration controls, and the cost of training personnel to combat terrorism. All these security apparatus are security measures that require huge capital investments (Messerli, 2011).
The cost of homeland security has increased over the years since the United States government adopted the homeland security act, and the US patriotic act. For example, the cost of maintaining homeland security in 2011 was 56 billion dollars compared to 38 billion dollars in the year 2002. The huge cost of implementing these security measures will continue to cost the US taxpayers billions of dollars each year (Messerli, 2009).
The massive spending of the government on defense is one of the factors that have made the United States government experience federal budget deficits after many years of having federal budget surpluses. A huge chunk of the United States taxpayers’ money will therefore, continue to finance the homeland security budget for many years to come since combating terrorism is a war without a clear end (Maniscallo & Christen, 2011).
One of the legal implications of the legislation of the homeland security act, and the patriotic act is violations of the civil rights of Americans guaranteed by the American constitution. The homeland security act of 2002 and the US patriotic act of 2001 gave extensive powers to enforcement agencies in their law enforcement procedures.
These pieces of legislation gave the police the powers for unlimited surveillance of the United States citizens, unwarranted seizures, and arrests, and allowed the detention without trail of terrorism suspects. Detention without trail is a violation of one of the seventh amendments provisions of the American constitution that sets the maximum number of days that a suspect can be held without trial (Ward, 2006).
The provisions of the homeland security act also allow the law enforcement personnel to track people in their place of worship, which is a violation of provisions on privacy in the first amendment Of the American constitution. Some provisions of the homeland security act, and the United States patriotic act gives the law enforcers powers to prevent terrorism suspects from consulting a lawyer or the chance of having a jury trail. This is a violation of the sixth amendment of the American constitution (Saunter & Carafano, 2005).
The civil right of the right to privacy has also been violated by the legislation of the acts on homeland security. The broad powers given to the police and other law enforcement personnel in their security procedures such as unlimited surveillance of the American populations raise the question of the right to privacy under these laws. The right to privacy is a right protected by the fourth, third or first, and the ninth amendment, and violations of this right are illegal according to the American constitution (Messerli, 2011).
One of the ethical issues raised by privacy violations of the homeland security act, and the US patriotic act is the implementation of the total information awareness systems for recording private data. The homeland security act gives law enforcers the power of recording personal and private data by state like credit card purchases, cell phone conversations. The government can use such private data under its systems for purposes other than for security purposes only (Maniscallo & Christen, 2010).
The homeland security act and The US patriotic act makes it easier for the law enforcement agencies to conduct secret unwarranted searches, and seizures. These broad powers given to the law enforcers Cleary violate the privacy rights of Americans. The abuse of civil rights by these pieces of homeland legislation destroys the principles of what it means to be American, and gives victory to terrorists (Chertof, 2009).
The other social issue raised by the legislation of homeland security act, and the US patriotic act is the balance of powers between the government, and its people. The provisions of the homeland security act and the US patriotic act have given the government too many powers against its people.
These powers have made the United States government look like a totalistic government or a police state. Many American people view the many structures that have been implemented to combat terrorism such as increased levels of surveillance, and monitoring as an enactment of draconian laws (Ward, 2006).
The legislation of homeland security is therefore, slowly turning America into one of the most heavily policed state in the world. The heightened levels of surveillance ,and monitoring enacted after the adoption of the homeland security act have resulted in deterioration of the relations between the police ,and the community in America because the American society always feel like the police are always policing them (Messerli,2011).
The other concern raised about the legislation of homeland security is the broad mandate given to the department of homeland security in its fight against terrorism. The clumping of many government agencies into one department has ultimately led to interagency conflict within the department of homeland security. This interagency conflict has led to its having serious impacts on the performance of the department of homeland security (Messerli, 2011).
The issue of the broad mandate of the department of homeland security is an issue overlooked in the constitution of the department of homeland security. Placing many governments’ agents under one oversight body means level of bureaucracy is high in the implementation of security strategies in the department of homeland security (Chertof, 2009).
There are also concerns that the legislation of homeland security has led to increase in cases of racial profiling especially against the Americans of Arab decent, and American Muslim populations. Since the enactment of this homeland security act, and the US patriotic act, many Arab Americans have been subjected to police harassment through stops, and searches by the law enforcers than other population of Americans (Chertof, 2009).
The police and other law enforcers have made the government to appear it is biased against Muslims the Arab minorities in America. This is because these populations are the ones mostly singled out by the police in anti terrorism activities. It is more common that the law enforcers will investigate an Arab than it is for other races in America.
Muslims and Arab Americans rights are violated by law enforcers through racial profiling which is against the principles of equality, and justice of races in America. Racially profiling Arab minorities in America, and the American Muslims who are law-abiding amounts to the racial discrimination, and harassment, and it is a backward agenda for the United States (Ward, 2006).
Another concern raised by the legislation of the homeland security act ,and the United States patriotic act is the potential for abuse of the anti terrorism laws by future administration of the United States . The war on terrorism is a war with no clear end. Future governments of the United States can abuse the emergency clauses that give the government expanded powers to deal with terrorism (Maniscallo & Christen, 2010).
Another legal issue that the legislation has brought forward is the ethical dilemmas that the openness of the legislative process does in a way highlight the tactics of the government in dealing with terrorism. The openness of the legislative process in America creates a loophole because terrorists can utilize this openness in designing a cover up strategies (Messerli, 2011).
Another major legal issue that has been raised by the legislation of homeland security is the ethical debate regarding the holding, and prosecuting of terrorism suspects
The legislation such as homeland security act and the US patriotic act has provisions that allow for long detention of terrorism suspects without trail, and the denial of terrorists from a legal counsel. These provisions of the antiterrorism acts raise the debate about the rights of terrorism suspects in prison (Chertof, 2009).
The Concern over the ethics of holding terrorism suspects for long periods, have resulted in the call for closure of prisons that house terrorisms suspects. The Legislation of the security acts on homeland security is therefore, a choice of security over the freedoms, and civil rights of Americans (Saunter & Carafano, 2005).
The future of the legislation of homeland security in the United States will be influenced by the tension between the benefits, and the successes of the laws Vis a Vis its negative implications to the American society. The decision of whether the powers of the federal government will expand, ,and evolve into a system that justifies less restrictive search warrants, video surveillance ,and the interceptions of communication depends on a large part on public perceptions of the legislation of these laws (Ward, 2006).
If in any case, a terrorist event occurs in the United States, the public might be willing to sacrifice some of their constitutional rights for security. However, if the Americans believe that America is safe for another attack, then the proponents of homeland security will prevail. It is therefore, necessarily for the American society to address both sides of the debate about legislation of homeland security because the main goal is provision of safe and secure nation for every American (Maniscallo & Christen, 2010).
Although, the legislation of the homeland security act elicits some controversy, and criticism from many Americans, the US federal government continues to use the provisions of the US patriotic act, and the homeland security act to fulfill the goal of making America more secure. The department of homeland security is embarking on a plan of ensuring that it uses the most advanced technologies such has secret service technology ,and nuclear detections in the department (Maniscallo & Christen, 2010).
There is a huge debate over the social legal and economic implications of the adoption of the homeland security act, and the US patriotic act, and their role in the defense of the United States. There is a need for sober debate about the pros, and cons of the adoption of these acts by the United States government.
The homeland security act of 2002 and the US patriotic act of 2001 present both benefits and challenges to the United States citizens. If some of the negative implications of the two antiterrorism laws are addressed, the two provisions of the two acts provide the United States department of homeland security with the legal backing necessary for keeping the American homeland safe and secure from security threats.
Legislating homeland security is a therefore, something close to a choice between security, and the infringement of human rights of Americans. Legislation of homeland security elicits some ethical, legal, and social implications that need to be addressed for the proper functioning of the department of homeland security in the future.
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Maniscalco, P. & Christen, H. (2010). Homeland security: principles, and practice Of Terrorism response. New York: Penguin books.
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