Human Rights in the Context of Counter-Terrorism Measures: United States of America.
The terror attacks of September 11, 2001, facilitated a transformation in federal Governance in the United States of America (hereinafter -- the USA). The events of that day showed that the counter-terrorism system of the USA was ineffective. Law enforcement agencies failed to prevent terrorist attacks and thus changes were necessary. The most significant transformations were the following: dozens of new laws were passed; the bureaucracy of the US Government was reorganized; a war was launched to eliminate a sanctuary that had existed for half a decade in Afghanistan; the wall that had existed between domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence was torn down; the rules by which US domestic agencies could collect information, tap phones, and tap email were changed; the efforts of the USA to secure its borders were totally transformed; transportation security was dramatically enhanced. All measures adopted during that first year after the terrorist attacks were implemented very quickly and without careful consideration of the costs and benefits. However, for the USA the year right after September 11 was not a period for thinking twice. It was the year of relentless offensive action against the threats that the USA faced. President Bush announced that the USA will follow a pre-emptive strategy of going after terrorists and the regimes that support them before they attack, not waiting to be attacked. Aforesaid changes greatly affected conditions of human rights in the USA. This article examines the effect on human rights by the new US counter-terrorism measures. Critics of the reform raise concerns that the rights of innocent people have been violated by the necessary steps taken by the law enforcement agents in order to fight terrorism. In the first part of the article, the influence of counter-terrorism legislation on human rights is explored, and in the second part, military commissions and the rights of non-citizens are examined. The third part discusses recent changes in the counter-terrorism strategy of the USA.
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