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Post 911 Security

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Post 911 Security

Post 9/11 Security

The word terrorism is controversial, with no universally agreed definition. No definition has been accepted as authoritative by the United Nations or the United States. However, the so-called "academic consensus definition," written by A. P. Schmid of the UN's Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention is widely used by social scientists and within the UN itself. His definition is as follows: Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by a clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby in contrast to assassination the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat and violence based communication processes between terrorist, victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target, turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought.

The September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks were a series of suicide attacks against civilians of the United States. According to the official 9/11 Commission Report, nineteen men affiliated with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda simultaneously hijacked four U.S. domestic commercial airliners. Two were crashed into the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City, one into each of the two tallest towers, about 18 minutes apart. The third plane crashed into the U.S. Department of Defense headquarters, the Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed into a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, due to passenger resistance. The official count records 2,986 deaths in the attacks. The 9/11 Commission reported that these attackers turned the hijacked planes into the largest suicide bombs in history and the most lethal acts ever carried out in the United States. The September 11th attacks are arguably the most significant events to have occurred so far in the 21st century in terms of the economic, social, political, cultural and military effects that followed in the United States and many other parts of the world.

Due to these attacks the issue of national security has moved to the forefront of the political agenda in the United States and many other countries. Terrorism has become the primary focus of national security measures around the world. One of the first reactions to terrorism and September 11th was the signing of the USA Patriot Act on October 26th, 2001. Enacted by the U.S. Congress, the act enhances the authority of U.S. law enforcement for the stated purpose of investigating and preempting potential terrorist acts in the United States and around the world. Because the USA Patriot Act is a revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, this enhanced legal authority is also used to detect and prosecute other alleged potential crimes. Expanding on FISA, the USA Act defines terrorism as an activity that meets all of the following three criteria: It intimidates or coerces the government or civil population, It breaks criminal laws, and, It endangers human life.

Because of this the tensions that exist between the need to preserve the state and the need to protect individual rights and freedoms have grown. This has led to ongoing debate, particularly on the appropriate balance between national security and civil and human rights. The government argues that some could use national security concerns as a means of suppressing unfavorable political and social views by restricting rights and freedoms.

The debate also raises questions about whether national security is ultimately weakened by the diversion of public funds away from basic services such as education, health care, disaster relief and emergency preparedness, and into national security measures and programs. This is very important when it come to disaster relief, as we have seen with Hurricane Katrina and the current devastation of the Crescent city, and the possible devastation of Texas. In the United States the controversial USA Patriot Act has brought some of these issues

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