Actions curtailing political freedoms and civil liberties

U.S. counter-terrorism policies negatively affected individual rights and liberties of law-Abiding U.S. citizens

US counterterrorism efforts have adversely affected human rights in ways that alarmists had warned. There is a significant degree of government interference for the purposes of security. The most criticized effects relating to civil rights are the operations of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) across the U.S. Some of the tactics employed have entrapped human rights as they provide detonators, explosives and other equipment. In such sting operations, individuals are always charged for attempting to acquire illegal firearms and explosives or smuggling. This enables the government to exercise tight control over its citizens by denying them the right to own any firearm. The practice exists on a thin line between protecting the rights of the innocent and protecting civilians (Howell & Lind, 2010).

After the September 11 attack, the federal embraced a range of actions to curtail political freedoms and civil liberties. At this time, the government explained that those actions were meant to help safeguard the country and its population from more attacks. The understanding is that the counterterrorism policies, including the torture during interrogations, mistreatment of prisoners and the rendition of arrested terrorist suspects backfired. The impacts of these intentional policy decisions include the massive deaths of detainees and multiple procedural challenges to prosecuting arrested terrorist suspects in the U.S. All these have served to degrade America’s image as a leader in the advocacy of world human rights and discourage other governments from participating in the fight on terror. According to Amnesty International, all these destroyed the human rights of ordinary people (Howell & Lind, 2010). Consequently, it has made the world a more dangerous place.

Most of media coverage focuses on terror and interrogation techniques. One of the sophisticated statistical studies concludes that the terror attacks have led to more government killings and disappearances, as well as government’s curbing freedom of speech. Domestic and transnational terrorist activities have prompted the government to deploy counter-terrorism practices to repress civil liberties. America’s crackdowns on human rights offer both actual and potential terrorists with more grievances and hence, more motivational for terror. With such increased levels of repression, the U.S. risks heightened chances of terrorism attacks. From this perspective, counter-terrorism policies have incentivized the government to restrict human rights. As a result, these restrictions on human rights have backfired as they have reduced international counter-terrorism cooperation, hence, causing more terror besides creating a vicious cycle in the U.S. (Tsang, 2008). The American government needs the cooperation and support of the international community in efforts to counter terrorism. In order to acquire and sustain this cooperation, the current government requires global public opinion on its inside.

Evidently, the U.S. human rights restrictions and abuses adopted as ways of enhancing national security have attracted global outcries because the supposed counter-terrorism policies infringe people’s privacy. The closest democratic allies of the U.S. (Australia and UK) are under pressure from their citizens to keep a distance from U.S. counterterrorism policies and practices. Limited changes have been made to counter-terrorism policies in response to such pressure. State cooperation in activities that engaged egregious human rights violations has reduced over time because those violations have become politically salient (Tsang, 2008). Intelligence officials in European nations viewed the harsh interrogation techniques as counterproductive because they worsened the process of forming human intelligence sources.

Terrorism affects the functioning of the society and basic human rights just as the measures embraced to counter the menace. Because terrorism seriously affects a range of fundamental human rights, states must adopt the appropriate counter-terrorism measures. Human rights protection and effective counter-terrorism measures mutually reinforce objectives that the government must satisfy while protecting its citizens.

One recommendation from the UN report and challenges to implementing the recommendation

Various recommendations have been listed in the UN report, waiting to be deployed. The most striking part is where the report calls for denying terrorists the means to carry out an attack, to prevent the appearance of terrorist dissidents. Terrorists need the financial means to conduct their attacks. The ability to move and generate finances, to recruit and train cadres, to obtain weapons and communicate is vital to terrorists. They pursue easy access to their targets and look for greater impact. Denying them access to these targets and these means could help mitigate future attacks (Salinas, Samuel & White, 2012).

Although this action could stimulate some change on a national level, there are challenges to progress and some will weaken the current efforts in Combating the Financing of Terrorists (CFT) via multilateral efforts. The first obstacle to successful CFT is the presence of state capacity limitations to implement the global counter-terrorism financing policy. Although the technical assistance and capacity building of the United Nations has been addressing this, still gaps exist concerning requirements of the UN standards. Even with the global legal standards, the absence of political will to adopt in some states presents another challenge relating to their effectiveness. Another challenge involves the human rights regarding the UN de-listing and enlisting procedures. These concerns have led to a perception that the current systems are not sufficiently transparent and fair (Salinas, Samuel & White, 2012).

In addition to the legal challenges, implementation concerns have risen from the listing processes. For some countries to implement freezing operations, they need more evidentiary requirements. The deficiency of adequate identifiers is a primary concern that hampers the implementation and enforcement of sanctions. This affects the rights of innocent individuals with names similar to those listed. Some nations have failed to take actions against businesses and income generating assets owned by Al-Qaeda supporters (Ryan, 2013). Another vital concern relates to the implementation of sanctions on the assets and businesses that are in the hands of jointly managed companies with non-designated individuals. Researchers have contended that the differences in the capacity of financial institutions and private sector banks across the world poses a challenge to the success of this initiative. Because larger financial institutions can manage and comply with the extra costs related to compliance with reporting terrorist funding, they boast of more competitive advantages than the smaller players do. Another challenge to suppress terrorist financing is the willingness and capacity of UN Member States to prepare reports to UN bodies, which they are frequently asked to produce. Small Member countries from the third world have limited institutional capacity hence experience great difficulty staying abreast with demands of successive circles of reporting.

Since the September 12 attack, no fundamental changes have been made in response to terrorist funding. The government lacks significant efforts of reassessing the policy (Salinas, Samuel & White, 2012). International and national initiatives still focus on the formal financial sector, without considering that terror gangs are now using criminal activities to generate money. Moreover, they are heavily using informal systems of finance and cash couriers to move funds. Considering that terrorist movements are changing their financing methods, CFT strategies must be adopted accordingly. For example, Al-Qaeda have learned to adapt, transform in creative ways and use globalization as a leverage in a manner that defenses have not yet considered. Countries must act beyond their national means in overcoming the threat of trans-national terrorism.


Howell, J., & Lind, J. (2010). Civil society under strain: Counter-terrorism policy, civil society, and aid post-9/11. Sterling, VA: Kumarian Press.

Tsang, S.Y.-S. (2008). Intelligence and human rights in the era of global terrorism. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Security Studies, an imprint of Stanford University Press.

Salinas, F.A., Samuel, K., & White, N.D. (2012). Counter-terrorism: International law and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ryan, M.W.S. (2013). Decoding Al-Qaeda’s Strategy: The Deep Battle against America. New York: Columbia University Press.

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