The world is facing risks as we all face the new millennium. Many terrorists are using harmful weapons such as the weapons of mass destruction. These may include dirty bombs, bioterrorism and even chemical weapons. The United States is one of the countries that terrorists are targeting to spread their acts. That is why we need to be aware about how we can respond with terrorism. As such, the United States government has been working to fight these terrorists by creating laws that would prevent and fight destructive weapons such as mentioned above. Numerous accounts have been documented regarding the United States’ status when it comes to facing terrorism. Thus, the country is still at risk of new attacks such as the dirty bombs, bioterrorism as well as the weapons of mass destruction. Different laws have been passed; new legislations were created so as to address these threats that the country is facing. With all these efforts to fight terrorists and their actions, there are still some arguments claiming that these laws may have been improved, as there are some provisions in such laws that could have been added to make it more effective than its current ones. Then again, everything falls under one goal and that is to stop terrorism and protect the United States against these terrorist attacks and address the occurrence of new and future threats.
Threats to the United States
Normally, when terrorists attack, they use bombs to scare and spread terrorism in the United States. However, the possibility of using bioterrorism and biological warfare are still present even though these tactics have been rare not only in the United States History, but in the world history. Nevertheless, technologies that are involved in this method of attacks have been rapidly advancing in the past years (Chandler and Landrigan 11). This only shows that the possibility of bioterrorism attacks is still threatening the United States. Terrorists could use the technology advancements to destabilize the country. Apart from using high-tech methods, attacks can also be done using aerosol dissemination.
Chandler and Landrigan also added that many analysts consider this method to be the likeliest route so they can disperse most of their biological agents, which is one of the threats in our present time (15). In fact, this could be one of the easiest ways to spread biological agents that would kill hundreds of thousands or even millions in a short span of time. The study of this method suggests that a one thousand kilograms of anthrax could kill three million people through aerosol as a spreading method. For example, trucks or planes that have sprayers in which the chemicals will be sprayed and traveled through the air can disperse aerosol with biological agent content. There may be hundreds of methods that the biological agents can be dispersed just to kill people. That is why bioterrorism can be one of the most silent attacks that the terrorists could use.
Another form of bioterrorism attack, which the United States faces is when is the chemical agent, is spread through human contact or human carrier. According to Chandler and Landrigan, infectious chemicals do not need to be refined because the terrorists only need one individual to infect directly (16). This would be an advantage on the terrorists’ part as there will be no extensive efforts will be exerted. In addition, this method of attack is inexpensive and does not require any additional equipment to disseminate the infectious agent.
Moreover, there is a more powerful threat than the risks of being infected through bioterrorism. A greater threat could be from the weapon of mass destruction. This threat is not only in the United States alone. It is a threat to the global community in which a large-scale devastation could affect millions of people around the world. The event that killed people during the anthrax attack in 2001 could have been an early warning to every nation, especially the United States.
As we live in the new millennium, factors have increased the threat of weapons of mass destruction that can be used by the terrorists (state.gov). There is a high possibility that terrorists will attack the United States using the weapons of mass destruction. Terrorist groups such as the Al Qaeda has overtly declared their plan to use weapons of mass destruction to attack innocent civilian communities (state.gov). In addition, the fall of the Soviet Union as well as the existence of the other weakened and failed states have also increased the possibility that the terrorists and their facilitators could seek and smuggle biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.
There is also a high possibility that terrorists could use the Internet and the other technological advancements to communicate and develop a quick acquisition of expertise of weapons of mass destruction.
Because of new technologies, bioterrorism may have become more developed with new strain of poisoning, which there is no antidote (foxnews.com). The report says that the strain is so harmful in which the scientists who discovered it will not release its genetic code not until an antidote is found. They are in fear that the code may fall into the wrong hands and be used against innocent civilians (foxnews.com).
Furthermore, the United States agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control are keeping the lists of possible bioterrorism agents, which possess the highest risks of morbidity and mortality, including the botulism (foxnews.com). As the country faces the risks of bioterrorism, the occurrence of untreatable diseases in the United States are still present. In fact, there is a new highly potent botulism strain known as botulism H. This is a serious threat as there is still no cure for such strain.
The agency also suggests that antibiotic-resistant agents must be on the CDC’s list as the case of antibiotic resistance in the United States is increasing. In fact, there are at least two million people in the United States who are being infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year. This event results to twenty three thousand deaths every year.
Despite the cautious monitoring of the United States government against bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction threats, Terrorists are still aiming to destabilize the country and put their destructive force in action. One of the cities that the terrorists want to attack is the New York City. This is where the devastating September 11 bombing happened, when the terrorists have taken down the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Recently, President Barrack Obama gave a warning that the terrorists are planning to spread terrorism in Manhattan, New York. The president even said that he is more worried about the potential explosion of a nuclear weapon in New York City than the threat of Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine (nydailynews.com). The president’s speech is based on the fact that terrorists are looking at the Manhattan area as the potential target of terror. That is why the New York Police Department has been very cautious to maintain the appropriate security level in accordance with on going threat assessments in the city.
With the current threats concerning bioterrorism, weapons of mass destruction and dirty bombs, the United States is continuing its efforts to fight against these terror attacks. Laws have been passed by the congress to put more power on the authorities in preventing terrorism in the United States. There are also legislations that directly address the country’s challenge in facing such threats.
One of the laws that have been created is the Defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act. This law was created in 1996, which had a vote of ninety-six against zero votes of the whole senate (harvard.edu). This law concluded that weapons of mass destruction are becoming more accessible to terrorist groups and rogue states. It was also concluded that both latter have an increasing potential to use the weapons of mass destruction to against the United States. In addition, this law has been created in 1996 due to the country’s poorly prepared status against domestic nuclear, chemical, or biological attack (harvard.edu).
The creation of such law is the country’s first step in reducing the country’s vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction. Thus, the government was on the stage of developing further efforts to fight terror threats. The law provides that the United States can prepare itself against terrorism by improving the country’s domestic response capabilities along with the improvement of equipment, national coordination, training, disease-outbreak detection, and multi-agency exercises (harvard.edu). The law’s provision initially addresses the fundamental needs to prevent and fight against terrorism and will develop the authorities’ capabilities in protecting the country against potential terrorism acts.
On the other hand, the USA Patriot Act was created to add more power to the government in fighting against domestic terrorism. Section 802 expanded the definition of the term terrorism to include “domestic” (aclu.org). This redefinition is in contrast with its definition of international terrorism. As such, a person who will be engaged in an act that would cause any harm or danger to human lives would be violation of the state’s criminal laws. Conversely, if such act was done intentionally to intimidate and coerce the civilian population, influence the government policy, or to affect the government’s conduct by mass destruction, the person will be liable. In addition, this law also expanded the government’s scope when it comes to investigating an alleged terrorism case (aclu.org). Basically, to address the United States’ problem regarding terrorism, USA Patriot Act added more power to the government to conduct investigations to terrorism in which some of these powers may be applied to domestic terrorism.
Another law that has been passed to address terrorism is the Anti-terrorism Act, which was created in 1996. The Title III of this law is designed to cut and sever the international terrorists from their financial sources as well as material support (fas.org). This law also provides authority in creating a regulation over a fund-raising of foreign organizations that are connected with terrorist activities (fas.org). With these law’s provisions, an enlarged scope of authority can control and investigate suspected terrorist activities in which preventing any terror attacks before it happens.
These legislations have been fully in favor of its advantages in terms of fighting against terror attacks such as weapons of mass destruction, bioterrorism, and even dirty bombs. However, there have been some arguments that show otherwise. Toni Panetta claims that the US Patriot Act is one of the laws that affect the US citizen’s human rights (163). In addition, the Title IV of this Act has precise consequences against immigrants (Panetta 172). It also has the equivalent consequences against resident aliens including non-U. S. Citizens. In the examination of the issues, the law would put limitations on the immigrants trying to be a United States Citizen. The US Patriot Act has been analyzed as another legislative attempt of the Government to put additional limitations on immigrants’ rights (Panetta 172).
On the other hand, supplemental claims portraying US Patriot Act suggests that the additional power of the government made it possible to monitor people even with their personal habits. This power includes, but not limited to monitoring people in the United States, but it also provides monitoring of those U.S. Citizens who live outside the country (lifescript.com). Based on the critics’ perception, providing an additional power to the government would somehow lose many people’s private life as they can be under surveillance regardless of their location.
The United States is a very powerful country. It is capable of taking down any suspected terrorists as long as its actions are based under the law. Based on the historical accounts, it may be safe to conclude that the country is still at high risk when it comes to facing bioterrorism, dirty bombs, and even weapons of mass destruction. The United States could be one of the most targeted countries of the terrorists because of its effort to fight terrors that are widely spread around the globe. So, in order for the terrorists to succeed, they must try to destabilize the United States. However, the country is strong enough to fight them back. With all of the existing laws and legislations that fight against terrorism, it is possible that future enhancement of these laws could be developed along with the development of new terrorism methods. In the end, the United States must continue its efforts against terrorism as future threats will continue to unfold and terrorists continue to find ways to spread terrors in the United States and other nations.
American Civil Liberties Union. "How the USA PATRIOT Act redefines "Domestic Terrorism"." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., 6 Dec. 2002. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <https://www.aclu.org/national-security/how-usa-patriot-act-redefines-domestic-terrorism>.
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