U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

In the Name of National Security: U.S. Counterterrorist Measures, 1960-2000

NCJ Number
Terrorism and Political Violence Volume: 13 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2001 Pages: 15-60
Laura K. Donohue
Date Published
46 pages
This article examines the increase of American counterterrorist measures between 1960 and 2000, and provides a taxonomy that can serve as a basis for discussion in considering the best approach to adopt in the future.
The first section of this paper reviews international diplomatic efforts to encourage international agreement and compliance in issues relating to counterterrorist measures. The second part reviews how international coercion is sometimes necessary. These coercive measures include specifying and designating state sponsors of terrorism, conducting military strikes, and engaging in assassination. The third section on overseas personnel and operations covers the placement of U.S. citizens abroad to build an effective counterterrorist structure. The fourth section on domestic criminal law focuses on alterations to the criminal code. In the fifth section, the non-criminal domestic initiatives relating to changes in civil law and non-criminal policy are addressed. The article concludes with a discussion of the risks posed by continued expansion of counterterrorist provisions. Between 1960 and 2000 the United States responded to the growing threat of terrorism with a wide range of measures. The government implemented provisions that extended from the negotiation of international agreements, military strikes against state sponsors of terrorism, and the creation of decontamination teams, to changes in immigration procedures, advances in surveillance, and an increase in the severity of penalties associated with terrorist attacks. As discussion in the United States progresses on the most appropriate action for dealing with conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological terrorism, it is useful to look at where the Nation stands in the development of its counterterrorism strategy and to consider what factors have shaped the American response. While some areas may be developed further to respond more effectively to terrorism, the significant picture that emerges is how complex and detailed the American counterterrorist complex has already become. The many branches of government entrusted with the life and property of the citizens have deemed it necessary to respond to terrorist threats by introducing a wide range of measures. Left unchecked, the continued expansion of the U.S. provisions risks major inroads into civil liberties, the alienation of minorities and of the other states, an increase in the number and effectiveness of terrorist acts, and unlimited expenditures. 173 notes