The Disproportionately Negative Effects of U.S. Counterterrorism Policies


By: Gerald F. Witherspoon, Sr. 20140905

U.S. Counterterrorism policies have had a disproportionately negative affect on the individual rights and liberties of law abiding U.S. citizens. The categorizations of colonizers and colonized, dominant and dominated, has now metamorphosed into the sacrificial priests and the sacrificed, the hunters and the hunted. The sacrificial priests are those engaged in counterterrorism efforts across the nation such as the ‘fusion centers’ inhabitants and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) (Mahan, 2012). They are anointed and ordained by the FBI (through the powers of the USA Patriot Act) to undermine state and community accountability in favor of formulating Suspicious Activity Reports (SARS) (Mahan, 2012). To the same tune, the sacrificed are the ever growing percentage of the homeland’s population that has been victimized through racial and religious profiling to be offered on the alters of suspicious activity for behavior simple as “using binoculars in public” and “taking pictures or video footage” (Mahan, 2012). This works hand in hand to legitimize the counter-terrorism bureaucracy comprised of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and several others (Mahan, 2012).

As history has proven, all communities of sacrificial priests have among them a population who enters into excess and become extortionists of power. According to Mahan, New York Civil Liberties Union reported, “in 2009 alone, the NYPD conducted 575, 304 ‘stop and frisk’ searches, 88 per cent of which revealed no criminal activity. More than half of those targeted in 2009 were African American and 31 per cent were Latino” (Mahan, 2012, p.339). She further cited, “Pew Center on the States reported that 7.3 million people in the US and one out of eleven African American men and women were in prison or jail, or on probation or parole” (Mahan, 2012, p. 340). Mahan went on to point out how Muslims, immigrants, and prisoners were hunted despite majority of the disrupted terrorist plots between 1995-2005 involving white supremacists (Mahan, 2012). Apparantly, who becomes a sacrificial lamb is a matter of convenience for those who have been authorized to do the sacrificing.

Similar to how the international legal principle of sovereignty has allowed genocidal maniacs to enjoy impunity from their savage disregard for humanity, local, state, and national agencies have escaped human rights violations under the guise of counter-terrorism efforts. Although terrorism has proved to be characterized by indiscriminate violent acts, the structural violence engrafted into the counter-terrorism policies and strategies remains discriminate and perpetuates anti-government dispositions in the homeland and abroad. In the same way citizens should not sympathize with terrorists, they should not sympathize with local, state, and national agencies that infringe upon the rights of U.S. citizens. Law abiding citizens, regardless of their race or religion, should be able to take pictures or video footage, even of the architectural design of a government building, without being hunted down, criminalized, arrested, and detained on suspicion.

The UN report (Uniting Against Terrorism) recommended, “Defending human rights in the context of terrorism and counter-terrorism” (2006, p. 22). This would undoubtedly be a loftily complex endeavor. The same states that consider human rights a western construct are the same states that hold the myth of American exceptionalism at heart and recognize the inherent hypocrisy and cotton-picking conditions evident in the U.S. Some weaker states, obviously not in a position to wage a legitimate war, view terrorist-sponsorship as an evil but necessary way to protect against U.S. hegemony and further exploitation of individual and collective rights. Even the universal implications of the International Bill of Human Rights, that all dignified states should uphold, is undermined by the global capitalist agenda. That is, the fundamental aspirations of mankind everywhere is trumped by the elitist push to accumulate more wealth. The gap between the rich and the poor cannot expand any further without a further expansion of human rights violations. Accordingly, counter-terrorism policies that demonstrate a stricter concern about threats to state security than human security cannot simultaneously act as a savior to human rights. Religion does not eradicate evil, laws do not remove crime, and counterterrorism policies supposedly designed to protect human rights do not prevent violations. However, all three can be wielded as a vehicle to justify the exploitation thereof. In a world of rulers and those who are ruled, and where anarchy is king, terrorists and those who are terrorized trade places sometimes. Whether world leaders could reach a universal agreement on a counter-terrorism strategy, that would be perceived as mutually beneficial to the leaders, is an entirely different question.



Mahan, S. (2012). Terrorism in Perspective. Sage Publications.

United Nations Secretary General. (2006). Uniting against terrorism: recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy. UN General Assembly.


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