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Terrorism and it History.
  Paper Presented at  AMSS 36 th  ANNUAL CONFERENCE“Perils of Empire: Islamophobia, ReligiousExtremism and the New Imperialism”   Cosponsored by  The Department of Government and Politics University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland October 26 – 28. 2007_______________________________________________   “Breach of Law, Breach of Security: A Muslim  American Analysis of US Counterterrorism Policies”By: Alejandro J. Beutel  *  (Program Assistant, Minaret of Freedom Institute, Bethesda, MD www.minaret.org   Abstract: Since 9/11 debates on terrorism and counterterrorism have been poorly informed.Fear and ideology rather than reason and facts have guided our policymakers’decisions, creating a dichotomy between liberty and security. As a result, the USgovernment has pursued policies that tend to be illegal, unethical and/or invasive.In this paper I argue that the dichotomy between civil liberties versus nationalsecurity is unsubstantiated, but that the relationship between the two concepts ishighly interdependent. I argue this point in my paper by beginning with a brief history of terrorism and counterterrorism in the US prior to the September 11thattacks. Following that, I will use four case studies to examine current UScounterterrorism policies: torture in interrogations, racial profiling, the NSAdomestic surveillance controversy, and the use of FBI National Security Letters.Such policies not only erode civil liberties/human rights, but they also harmnational security by obtaining dubious information via unethical means, divertingresources from real threats and eroding the important relations between law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens (particularly American Muslimcommunities). The paper concludes by offering a set of policy alternatives. * I would like to thank Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad of the Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI) for his patience, support and critical feedback on this paper. I would also like to thank Michael German, NationalSecurity Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and former FBI agent, for his helpthrough formal and informal discussions on liberty and security and his assistance in providing importantinformation and clarification of concepts used in this paper. Finally I would also like to thank Iqbal Akhtar,intelligence analyst at the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), for his help and supportthrough informal discussions on terrorism and geo-politics. The opinions offered in this paper are my ownand do not necessarily represent views of Dr. Ahmad, Mr. German, Mr. Akhtar, MFI, the ACLU, the FBIor USNORTHCOM.  Section I. – A Definition of Terrorism and its ChallengesBefore beginning this paper, it is necessary to provide a definition of the word “terrorism.” However this is no easy task. According to researchers Albert J. Jongman and Alex P. Schmid, there are at least 109 different definitions of terrorism. 1 (The United States has at least three different definitions, between theFederal Bureau of Investigations [FBI], Department of State and Department of Defense.) 2  Some analytical hurdles to overcome before arriving at a definitioninclude: ã “Terrorism” vs. “Liberation”  . One man’s freedom fighter is another man’sterrorist. How is one to distinguish between the legitimacy of two differentsides’ agendas? Is it through the ideology or through the means? Both? 3   ã Terrorism as a crime vs. war  . Is it a criminal act or it is a type of warfarethat needs to be conducted according to the law governing war? 4   ã Targets  . Who is considered to be a civilian? Are humans the only targets of terrorism? 5   ã State vs. non-state  . State security apparatuses engage in terrorism, likeIranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as the Bush administration has argued,or the Israeli Defense Forces, as many Palestinians would charge? Or is itsimply limited to non-state actors? 6  Ultimately trying to build a universal consensus for an objective definitionof terrorism is impossible. The fundamental problem with defining the term is thatit is extremely subjective, shaped by ideology, politics and power. This is why definitions of the term continue to change. 7 Nevertheless, in order to provideanalytical clarity of U.S. counterterrorism, for this paper I define terrorism as:  A criminal act by non-state actors that seeks to employ violence against unarmed human civilians, as defined by the GenevaConventions, 8    for political purposes   Section II. – A Short History of Terrorism in the United States and Its Responses Although the subject of terrorism has always been and continues to be ahotly debated and widely interpreted topic, one thing that its historians andcontemporary analysts agree upon is that it is not a new form of violence. Onehistorian speculates that it may predate regular warfare because, “…the fighting of armies involves a certain amount of organization and sophisticated logistics thatprimitive man did not have.” 9  Recorded historical evidence supports terrorism’ssrcins at about 2,000 years with emergence of violent Jewish fanatical groupssuch as the Sicarii, 10 however the term “terrorism” itself was not coined until 1793-4during the French Revolution by Maximilien Robespierre. Interestingly,Robespierre’s usage of the term was a positive one, and furthermore, he appliedthe term as a tactical instrument of the state, as opposed to a non-state actor. 11    The first recorded instance of what might be argued as terrorism in Americatook place in 1622 when the Powhatan Native Americans attacked the Jamestowncolony in 1622, killing 30% of its inhabitants. 12 Although there were sporadicuprisings and rebellions in early United States history, the first terroristorganization after the creation of the American republic was the white supremacistorganization, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Formed in 1867, it was srcinally a non- violent social organization led by former Confederate general Nathan BedfordForrest. However it soon turned to violence in 1868, murdering, beating up andintimidating black voters and white supporters of the Republican Party. Theirattacks and intimidation were particularly effective in shaping voting patterns,“…help[ing] account for Georgia’s [among other states’] quick ‘redemption’ andreturn to conservative white Democratic control by late 1871.” 13 After a massiveFederal crackdown involving suspension of Habeas Corpus, legal convictions of “dubious constitutionality” and tough anti-Klan laws during 1871-72, the KKKdisbanded itself. Although the KKK as an organization effectively ceased to exist,the Federal government’s overreaction ended up being counterproductive by helping the organization achieve its political objectives: These laws probably dampened the enthusiasm for the Klan, but they can hardly be credited with destroying it. The fact was, by the mid-1870’s white Southernershad retaken control of most Southern states governments and didn’t need the Klanas much as before. Klan terror had proven very effective at keeping black votersaway from the polls. Some black officeholders were hanged and many more werebrutally beaten. White Southern Democrats won elections easily, and passed lawstaking away many rights that blacks had won during Reconstruction.The result was a system of segregation which was the law of the land for morethan 80 years. This system was called “separate but equal,”… 14    After the end of early KKK violence in 1872, a new threat from anarchistmovements emerged: “first wave” of modern international terrorism struck America with Haymarket square bombing in 1886.  15   Anarchist terrorism continued withinthe United States until 1927 until the execution of two Italian men, Nicola Saccoand Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were arrested on charges of robbery involvingmurder. 16 In the years between these two events, a series of bombings andmurders took place that included the assassination of President McKinley in 1901,a string of mail bombings directed at government officials–that included a failedattempt at the Attorney General – in 1919, and the bombing of Wall Street in 1920 which killed at least 30 people. In response to the mail bombings, then-Attorney General Mitchell Palmer ordered a infamous series of dragnets against immigrantcommunities, called the “Palmer Raids”, detaining thousands of individuals,holding many indefinitely or deporting them and sentencing a few toimprisonment or death based on very flimsy evidence, as was the case with theHaymarket bombing conviction and the arrests of the two Italian men. 17  Eventually anarchist terrorism faded away from America, but it had little to do with thedraconian and overreaching measures employed by Palmer. The Wall Streetbombing and several other smaller attacks continued to occur after the notoriousraids. As one terrorism analyst observes, “Clearly Palmer’s raids had not swept upall the agitators, despite the free hand law enforcement was given to trample civilliberties in the name of increased security. The dragnet didn’t work, and theterrorists remained free to strike.” 18 Over time, anarchist terrorism withered because  a new generation became more concerned with anti-colonial and nationaliststruggles and other radical ideologies like communism and fascism. 19  The 1920s until the 1960s saw relatively few terrorist attacks on the UnitedStates soil –the time period classified as the “anti-colonial wave” by terrorismhistorian David Rapoport–most likely due to its lack of overseas territorialpossessions. The notable exception to this is Puerto Rico, which perhaps notsurprisingly is the srcin of the terrorists who committed the 1954 shooting of Congress. 20 America would experience a significant quantitative increase of terrorism on its main land shores beginning in the early 1960s and continuestoday. The 1960s until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, was when primarily leftist, anti-communist and ethno-nationalist (of various political tendencies)organizations were operating. These groups included Symbionese Liberation Army, 21 Weather Underground Organization, 22 Black Liberation Army, 23 ArmedForces of National Liberation and other Puerto Rican militants, 24   various Anti-Castromilitants, 25 Armenian militants, 26 Jewish Defense League, 27 various whitesupremacists 28  and Al-Fuqra. 29  From the mid 1960s to early 1970s the FBI institutedits counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) against various left-wingorganizations as well as “white hate” organizations like the KKK. COINTELPROhad greater success in dismantling the KKK than with leftist and Black Nationalistmilitants because the former effort was run largely as a criminal investigation,targeting criminal acts, whereas the latter was subject to a series of counterpropaganda efforts and dangerous techniques inciting violence among membersand between other organizations. 30  Due to the illegal nature of many of the tacticsused on leftist organizations and Black Nationalist organizations, many militantsreceived little to no jail time. Their downfall had more to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the gains made by the civil rights movement than the FBI’sefforts. Public outcry from the Church committee investigating COINTELPRO led toenactment of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and barredcounterintelligence techniques from being used in domestic terrorisminvestigations.Beginning the early 1990s until today the majority of terrorist attacks on theUS mainland came from white nationalists and others on the far Right. 31  Most of these attacks were successfully prevented, although some, such as the 1993 WorldTrade Center attack and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, were not. After the9/11 attacks occurred–which was due to intelligence and management failures, notcriminal investigation techniques–  32 several pieces of legislation weakening privacy laws and law enforcement and intelligence oversight were passed. It appears thathistory is repeating itself as civil liberties are being eroded under guise of security;laws are being flouted even under weaker standards, while few internationalterrorists are caught and prosecuted. 33  In this paper I will examine four cases studies: torture in interrogations,racial profiling, the NSA domestic surveillance controversy, and the use of FBINational Security Letters. I argue that such policies not only erode civilliberties/human rights, but also harm national security by obtaining dubiousinformation via unethical means, diverting resources from real threats and erodingthe important relations between law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens
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