The attack was another reminder of the near impossibility of ensuring ubiquitous security at all times, despite the vast amounts of money spent on homeland security in the last decade. This essay will be examining the success of the US government generally and the Department of Homeland Security specifically in securing the country from terror attacks. If the premise that total security is a myth, what therefore remains to be done to close existing gaps to such an extent that the threat is reduced to an absolute minimum?
This essay will especially consider the extent to which security can be assured even with the imposition of radical, on-traditional policies that impinge on civil liberties and the rule of law. It will also be applying the theory of characterization in assessing the success of both the Department of Homeland Security and the general war on terror as well as the convergence/divergence between the theories and practices of security. Theoretical Perspectives- It is widely accepted that the US post war foreign policy is based predominantly on the theories Of realism.
Goldstein and Pushover define this theory as “a school of thought that explains international relations in terms of power. (Goldstein and Pushover 2009: 43). Realism has arguably been the dominant ideology explaining post war international relations and perceives the international system – in the absence of an overarching global government – as existing in a state of anarchy. Power, therefore, lies within states is viewed as operating on the international scene with the aim of pursuing its own interests.
National governments may profess to primarily respect key principles such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law, but these should never be allowed to interfere with the pursuit of national interest (Holiday 1994: 22). The lack of credibility has precisely been the resource of conflict between the United States and Muslims in the Middle East. The United States is perceived as the power with arms, that funds and perpetuates venal and corrupt Middle Eastern governments that repress their own people.
It should be remembered that the original source of Osama Bin Alden’s aggression towards the United States was the issue of US military personnel situated in Muslim states. The self-interested behavior of the SIS was seen as totally at odds with its professed belief in democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Therefore, this has adversely affected its credibility ND the perceived legitimacy of its actions in international relations.
Proponents of characterization theory on the other hand posits that “security is treated not as an objective condition but as the outcome of a specific social process: the social construction of security issues (who or what is being secured, and from what) is analyses by examining the ‘scrutinizing speech- acts’ through which threats become represented and recognized. Issues become ‘securities,’ treated as security issues, through these speech-acts, which do not simply describe an existing security situation, but bring it into Ewing as a security situation by successfully representing it as such (Williams 2003: 513).
One of the theories’ developers expands this by stating “What then is security? With the help of language theory, we can regard “security’ as a speech act. In this usage, security is not Of interest as a sign that refers to something more real; the utterance itself is the act. By saying it, something is done (as in betting, giving a promise, naming a ship). By uttering “security’ a state representative moves a particular development into a specific area, and thereby claims a special right to use whatever means are necessary to block t. ” (Wever 1 995: 55).
Homeland Security- At the wake of September 1 1 , President Bush was determined that the country’s internal security infrastructure was inadequate and consequently established the Office of Homeland Security by executive order on 8th October 2001 (Wise 2002: 131). The Homeland Security Act of 2002 “created the Department Of Homeland Security in the largest government reorganization in 50 years. Over 180,000 personnel from nearly 30 programmers and agencies throughout the federal government were consolidated to create the Department of Homeland Security (DISH).
The session of the DISH was to lead a unified national effort to secure America” (Grieves 2008: 6). The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 established the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Director of National Intelligence leads the intelligence community and served as the principal advisor to the President for intelligence matters. He established objectives and priorities for the 16 agencies within the U. S. Intelligence community and “manages and directs tasking of collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of national intelligence” (Gerber et al. 0051 185).
There have been a few key words used to describe the work of the DISH. One has been deterrence. One of its main functions is to assess the nation’s vulnerabilities and provide remedies where applicable. This has been achieved through a massive financial investment. This has then led to the counter claim that increased security often leads to the need for even more security. Harvey justified such claims by highlighting that “public outrage would be far more heightened today if a 9/1 1 type attack took place than was the case in 2001, precisely because of the amount of money that has been pent to prevent such an occurrence” (Harvey 2006: 9).
This was especially true after the post hurricane Strain failures. Another related key term has been the predominance of response over prevention. The US has one of the most advanced infrastructures for responding to national and international crises. What is lacking is an equal capacity to prevent a catastrophe from occurring rather than dealing with it when it does. Finally one of the main criticisms of the Department of Homeland Security has been its institutional lack of imaginative approaches to securing the country from new terror attacks.
In some ways this is similar to the criticisms over a lack of prevention capacity. Hanson gives an example in the form of the Policy Analysis Market (PAM) which was “designed to use speculative markets to forecast geopolitical trends. The PAM was an effort to create decision markets about the potential consequences of policy actions. It was premised on the assumption that markets are efficient and effective aggressors of information” (Hanson 2005). This attempt to use market forces to assess terrorist risk was incorrectly described as betting on a terrorism futures market and never allowed to get if the ground.
This was done despite the fact that risk analysis tools are used on a daily basis to assess other forms of risk, and was perceived as a typical example of the department’s lack of ability to think ‘outside the box. While it is unknown how successful such an approach would have been, the point is that the DISH lacked the imagination to investigate the possibilities. Characterization theory can be applied to homeland security by considering the nature of the terror threat being faced by the US post 9/11 and the way that threat has been presented to the public.
In keeping with the tenets of accreditation the important point, as stated earlier, is the way politicians use “speech-acts which do not simply describe an existing threat, but to bring it into being as a security situation by successfully representing it as such” (Williams 2003: 513). There are a range of examples which demonstrate how speech acts were used to escalate the national sense of threat for purposes other than national security. One primary example is a speech given by President Bush on the threat to the homeland in Cincinnati in October 2002.
After outlining in chilling detail the vast quantities of chemical, biological and clear weapons and material that Iraq possessed or was attempting to acquire, he went on to say, “Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud”) (Toweling 2009: 261 ) This was said in the full knowledge that not only was it unclear whether Iraq actually possessed any nuclear weapons, but they certainly did not possess a method of delivering it to the US mainland.
However the fear generated by invoking the image of a chromo cloud over America served the purpose of constructing an existential threat that did not exist, but which could be used to justify extreme and illegal state actions such as the invasion of Iraq and illegal internment in Accountant. The Homeland Security color coded threat advisory system was another means by which threat levels were securities through the communication of ever changing threat levels.
The DISH itself highlights these ever changing threat levels with a range of examples. On 7 February 2003 the threat level was raised from yellow to orange because, “Recent Intelligence ports suggest that AY Qaeda leaders have emphasized planning for attacks on apartment buildings, hotels, and other soft or lightly secured targets in the United States” (Reese 2005: 7). It was raised again on 17 March and 20 May for unspecified threats to the US. Levels were again raised in December for threats to the holiday season.
This ‘roller coaster advisory system served the purpose of keeping American society in a constant state of fear and panic over imminent attacks that never materialized. These threat warnings were especially pernicious as they were usually accompanied by pre-set instructions. For example the blue threat alert required citizens to review their emergency food supply stocks, whereas an orange alert required everyone to review their personal disaster plan and prepare it for implementation (Jackson 2005: 114). Peoples and Vaughan-Williams make the point that up to 201 0 the threat level had never been lowered below the yellow or elevated stage. This constant state of alert was therefore meant to imply that the Lignite States was in a permanent state of war against terrorism (Peoples and Vaughan-Williams 201 0: 109). These examples tend to indicate that the threat facing the citizens of the United States was emanating from their own government rather than AY Qaeda. Osama bin Laden had always opined on the inherent moral and spiritual weakness of the West.
His strategy was based on the belief that while Muslim beliefs would never change, all it would take was a decisive strike to shatter America’s self-confidence and trigger a retreat from many of its cherished beliefs such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In this sense it was no longer necessary for AY Qaeda to terrorize America as the government was already performing that function. The War on Terror- It is now axiomatic that the War on Terror was initiated and prosecuted on a foundation of dissembling and disinformation.
The first incongruity was in the name chosen. A war against AY Qaeda was one that could be prosecuted with a discernible end point of the organization’s destruction or dismantling. A war on terror had no perceivable end in sight as there was no reasonable prospect of eliminating terrorism from the world. This gave the impression of America embarking on an endless war from which there was no exit strategy. There was also considerable concern over the inherent and stated implications of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emotive war. While Article 2, Section 4 of the U. N.
Charter prohibits the use of preventive war, the Bush administration claimed that this prohibition required reviewing in light of the threat from weapons of mass destruction. Neo-conservatism was used as the theoretical justification for the invasion of Iraq. This was predicated on the belief that America’s interests could best be served by dealing with states that were democratic and adhered to the rule of law and respect for human rights. Contrary to realist thinking, America Hereford had a key role to play in ensuring these ideals were implemented by states it was trading with.
However the Bush administration went further in distorting the initial concept to mean that it was America’s responsibility to unilaterally enforce democracy on authoritarian states. If neo-conservatism was the theoretical justification used, characterization was the means by which public acceptance was gained. The build up to the invasion involved a torrent of continuous speech acts, aimed at the social construction of an Iraqi threat which included connecting Sad Hussein to the 9/1 1 attacks in the minds f the American people.
Aggressor and Shiner made the claim that “President Bush never publicly blamed Sad Hussein or Iraq for the events of September 1 1, but by consistently linking Iraq with terrorism and AY Qaeda, he provided the context from which such a connection could be made. Bush also never publicly connected Sad Hussein to Osama bin Laden, the leader Of al Qaeda. Nevertheless, whether or not Bush connected each dot from Sad Hussein to bin Laden, the way language and transitions are shaped in his official speeches almost compelled listeners to infer a connection” (Aggressor and Shiner 2005: 525).
A content analysis of President Bush’s speeches between 2002 and 2003 termed the ‘Iraq index’ shows that virtually every speech included the terms Iraq, Sad Hussein, terrorism and bin Laden, often in the same paragraphs and even the same sentences. While not actually connecting Sad with 9/11, President Bush very successfully invited the American people to make that connection themselves (Ibid 527). The Secretary of State, Colon Bowel’s speech to the Lignite Nations was another example of a speech act meant to create a reality that did not really exist.
One extract of his speech stated, “if we find a post-9/11 nexus between Iraq and terrorist organizations that are looking for just such weapons -? and would submit and will provide more evidence that such connections are now emerging and we can establish that they exist -? we cannot wait for one of these terrible weapons to show up in one of our cities and wonder where it came from after it’s been detonated by al Qaeda or somebody else. This is the time to go after this source of this kind of weaponry” (UN Security Council 2003: 7-8).
Again the implication was being clearly made that a link existed between Sad Hussein and terrorist groups who were receiving weapons of mass destruction from him. Another example can be found in President Bush’s State of the Union assertion that Iraq had attempted to purchase refined uranium also known as ‘yellow cake’ from Niger. This was done despite prior evidence that this information was false. The initiation of the rendition process provides another example.
President Bush while in conversation with Prince Band of Saudi Arabia said, “If we catch somebody we will hand them over to you for questioning” (Woodward 2006:80-81). According to Woodward, “With these words the president casually expressed what became the US government’s rendition policy – -the shifting Of terrorist suspects from country to country for interrogation” (Ibid). Finally the institution of the Patriot Act represents another example of the extent to which the US government has become as big a threat to the rights and security of the American people as AY Qaeda itself.
This draconian piece of legislation provides for: “an increase in the state’s powers of surveillance; national search warrants; the detention of foreigners without trial for up to seven days without charge, and the deportation of suspected terrorists. The depth and extent of these measures essentially places the united States on a armament quasi-war footing” (Peoples and Vaughan-Williams 2010: 109). Provisions such as the state’s ability to access information on what books people borrow from libraries and its ability to check records without a judge’s approval have been especially controversial.
These provisions which serious impinge on fundamental rights such as the right to privacy have paradoxically been vindicated as necessary for the preservation of liberty and security. Conclusion- The notion of security is still a much contested topic. This is because of the lack of an accepted definition of security and due to the evolution in the incept of security itself in response to changed environmental conditions. The inherent message of many of the policies of the DISH and the general war on terror is clear.
Security is possible if society allows the state draconian powers which impinge on fundamental rights as well as national and international law. It has been obvious to most that 9/11 represented a paradigm shift in the potential threat posed by transnational terror groups such as AY Qaeda, which required an enhanced response by the LIST. This is particularly true in light of the number of unreliable or rogue states assessing weapons of mass destruction such as Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and Syria.
Terror groups accessing such weapons from any of these states definitely pose an existential threat to the US and other similar states that differs from previous terror threats. However much of the evidence presented in this paper reveals that, in the absence of other attacks, the main threat to liberty and civil/human rights have come from the SIS government. Furthermore many of the provisions of both homeland security and the war on terror suggests that rather than ensuring security, that the security threat itself is being used as a pre-text to implement policies which dramatically alter the relationship between the state and society.
In achieving this, neo- conservatism has been a convenient tool for justifying the attack on Iraq. However characterization remains a better analytical tool for examining the way speech acts have been used to socially construct an array of threats as justification for a range of responses such as the Patriot Act, Accountant, rendition, pre-emotive war and the use of torture cloaked under the euphemism of enhanced interrogation. These examples tend to reveal that he real question should not be limited to a binary option of whether or not security is impossible.
Instead it should be how to balance the security of society with the rights of the individual, and the answer to this question should always be based on the Jeffersonian maxim that ‘he who would trade liberty for security deserve neither and will in all probability lose both.