Brief Review Of The Literature Criminology Essay

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The terrorist attacks of 2001 dramatically demonstrated that the United States faces a real terrorist threat from both international terrorism and homegrown terrorism. Aretxaga (2008) pointed out that the September 2001 catastrophe was a product of religious fanatics who have disregarded the importance of human being and launched horrific attacks against the country. According to Kleinerman (2007) these attacks have revealed a weakness that many Americans had never appreciated before and they have ignited a fundamental debate about the tension between security and civil liberties and the government's ability to protect and secure our borders.

In this contemporary era, terrorism presents a challenge to our security and democracy, especially with homegrown terrorism being so active in Canada and the United States (Kondrasuk, Bailey & Sheeks, 2005). Aretxaga noted that it will be nearly impossible in the future to really know the enemies since ordinary citizens now are being radicalized into violent Islamist Extremists and they have the tendency of carrying terrorist plots to show that they are really committed to the cause (Aretxaga, 2008).

Brust (2012) outlined that the internet has facilitated the process of radicalization of American citizens, legal residents, or visitors into homegrown violent Islamic Extremists and has enabled them to carry out catastrophic attacks against the United States. Brust also underlined that the internet has become the primary vehicle that terrorists use to distribute their propaganda and operational guidance (Dudziak, 2011). Despite all these risks, many Americans are still concerned about sacrificing their civil liberties in order to purchase security, especially when they are not sure if those preventive measures are effective enough to combat terrorism (Kamm, 2007).

In the last few years, prompted largely by the work of Cole and Dempsey (2002), several articles on civil liberties and security failure have been written which led to one main concern whether curtailing civil liberties would promote national security. Despite all efforts by civil libertarians around the countries, this issue has received very little attention from the government. One reason may be that the government feels that their actions are justified as long as they are protecting the homeland against terrorist attacks (Dragu, 2011). Duffy (2008) stated that instead of protecting civil liberties, the Bush administration has established the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism- PATRIOT Act of 2001 which has expanded the CIA and FBI jurisdiction in their counterterrorism efforts by allowing them to infringe on citizens' civil liberties as they deem necessary (Duffy, 2008). This study assesses the effectiveness of the war on terror and its implications on citizens' civil liberties. Some of the issues addressed are citizens' concerns about civil rights protection; the jurisdiction of intelligence agencies, such as the FBI and CIA and a 21st century comprehensive policy is introduced to provide adequate protection against government intrusion on civil liberties. However, international terrorism will not be covered to its entirety

Statement of the Problem

The present illegal methods use by the intelligence community to collect intelligence in the United States and overseas have reflected the lack of understanding of the basic human rights by those agencies (Martin, 2008). The PATRIOT Act of 2001 has significantly expanded the government's ability to gather information under the rubric of investigating clandestine intelligence activities and terrorism which has increased the public's attention regarding civil liberties (Martin, 2008). The problem to be addressed in the proposed study is that the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment are very clear regarding the basic rights protected under the Constitution; however, during the recent periods of terrorist activities, civil liberties appear to have been violated by U.S. intelligence agencies because a 21st century policy to protect civil liberties has not been established (Martin, 2008).

The intelligence communities work jointly to achieve one primary task, which is to protect national security. However, in doing so, those agencies have violated citizens' civil rights by engaging in illegal surveillance and wiretapping, especially in cases that do not have anything to do with national security (Gordon, 2007). As a result, a 21st century comprehensive policy is necessary in order to form better policies and make certain that all intelligence agencies are adhering to the guidelines (Martin, 2008). Such policy will keep government officials accountable for their action and it will examine some of the provisions of the PATRIOT act to ensure that they don't pose any threat to either national security or civil liberties.

In a volatile world where terrorism presents a special challenge, a sustainable comprehensive policy will stabilize the balance between security and civil liberties to stop the government from abusing its powers, and enhance information gathering and analysis needed to improve the nation's efforts to win the war on terror and to punish ideologically-motivated violence without violating civil liberties (Martin, 2008).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the proposed qualitative case study is to examine how the provisions of the PATRIOT Act of 2001 have impacted citizens' civil liberties in this post 9/11 era because the country is struggling to balance between freedom and security. In addition, this study will underline how U.S. intelligence agencies are violating civil liberties of citizens in the name of national security and also identify citizens' willingness to forfeit their civil liberties in substitution for greater national security. Furthermore, this study will develop a theory that will provide an understanding to why the government is really restricting citizens' civil liberties and a 21st century comprehensive policy will be introduced to protect those rights. The data gathered will be compiled and reviewed to manage this inconsistency and it will be used to identify a 21st century policy that can provide sufficient protection for civil liberties.

Brief Review of the Literature

A study by Lewis (2007) concluded that the public is vehemently against government intrusion even if it means more protection for the United States. The study also hypothesized that some psychological effects, such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder may be associated with invasion of privacy and civil rights violations especially if the government resorts to torture as a means to acquire information about future attacks. On the contrary, Baker (2010) disagreed with the idea that terrorists should be protected under the Constitution of the land; instead he outlined that those who are charged with an act of terrorism should be held into indefinite detention without charge or a trial. In her study, Baker also proposed that the government should use any means necessary to prevent another attack against the country.

In a research article by Forsythe (2009) one main concern was addressed whether curtailing citizens' civil liberties would enhance security. In his study, Forsythe mainly focus on finding out if restricting civil rights would benefit the war on terror. In order to collect data, several questionnaires were mailed out to a chosen sample of 5000 participants asking them their views about allowing the government to infringe on some of the civil rights to protect the country again terrorist attacks. The study has concluded that most Americans are against restricting their civil rights. It was also determined that in the wake of September 11th, many civil liberties had been restrained or suspended (Forsythe, 2009).

Furthermore, a study by Gould (2010) examined some of the implications of the 9/11 attacks and believed that they have changed the principles of a free democracy society such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Gould's study found that those whose rights have been violated tend to lose confidence in the government and may reject the theory of community policing in which the public share valuable information with their local police agencies about crime or illegal activities (Gould). Whenever, government officials involved in illegal surveillance, such as wiretapping, they are violating the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which provides protection against the invasion of privacy to everyone living in America (Hardin, 2008). The government should refrain from abusing its power when it comes to violating civil rights since they are protected under the constitution. However, the arising argument is whether life is more important than security. Forsythe (2009) has concluded that life is more essential to liberty; as a result the government should be allowed to infringe on some rights especially if they are not violating the first and fourteenth amendment of the constitution.

Despite the public's opinion about civil liberties, government officials are still engaging in illegal surveillance, hoping that they will gather valuable information to use in their counterterrorism efforts (Conaway, 2007). In his article, Conaway (2007) discussed how America can win the war on terror without infringing on civil liberties. Conaway analyzed human rights in many different ways, such as, the right to humane treatment, the right to life, the right to personal liberty and security, the right to freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, the protection of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and the right to judicial protection. The study concluded that the American government needs to be aware that these basic principles represent what the country stands for and violating them would only harm the nation as a whole (Conaway, 2007).

Moreover, Araduau (2008) examined how the war on terror has impacted equality in the country. The result of his study indicated that this war has increased the possibility for the degradation of freedom. Araduau also found that the government has shown no regard for citizens' rights instead they provided unprecedented powers to government officials to investigate suspects and search innocent victims. Also, in the process; some innocent people have paid the price simply because they have a mere connection with an individual suspected to be associated with a proscribed organization (Viscusi & Zeckhauser, 2003). The reason for this abuse rooted in the establishment of the PATRIOT Act which poses a greater threat to our civil liberties. This Act facilitates the process for intelligence agencies to obtain information, lower the standard to obtain court order for wiretapping and less the judicial oversight. One major problem associated with this Act is that government officials have operated under its umbrella in cases outside of national security (Martin, 2008).


The purpose of the proposed qualitative study is to recommend a 21st century policy to protect citizens' civil liberties because the country is struggling to balance between freedom and security ever since the terrorist attacks of September 2001. By using a qualitative research design, the projected study will be able to provide answers that those questions that are related to restrictions of civil liberties. One way to do that is by not just reading quickly across the surface but to dig deep to obtain a full understanding of the phenomenon being investigated. A qualitative research method has the ability to carry such task and more.

According to Creswell, qualitative research method will also enable researchers to collect various forms of data and assess them from different angles in order to create an important and meaningful picture of the comprehensive situation at hand, which is violation of civil liberties (Creswell, 2009). Furthermore, for this research project the ground theory and secondary data will used. According to Creswell (2009) secondary data is data which was previously collected and may be analyzed by individuals other than the researcher for other reasons than the original purpose. Data for this study will be collected from government agencies databases, large surveys by other researchers and from existing archives. In addition, data about civil liberties and terrorism will be collected from archival databases such as Proquest, Ebrary and Gale Academy Onefile using the keywords of civil liberties and terrorism. Only articles published within the last 10 years will be selected for this research in order to produce a meaningful contribution to the field of knowledge. Additionally, the ground theory will be used because it allows researchers to use interviews, observations, historical records, videotapes, and any documents that relevance to the interested research question (Creswell, 2009).

Strengths and Weakness of Qualitative and Quantitative

A qualitative research method is the most appropriate methods to use to carry out this research project because qualitative procedures show a different approach to scholarly researcher than the methods of quantitative (Creswell, 2009). For instance, even though the process of conducting qualitative and quantitative are similar, qualitative procedures solely rely on text and image data, have unique sets of steps in analyzing data and draw on diverse strategy of inquiry (Creswell). In addition, qualitative method is also suitable because the data that will be used in this study cannot be quantified because it involves individuals' perceptions concerning their civil liberties being violated for the sake of national security. Also, fewer assumptions or restrictions are placed on the collected data which makes it much easier to explore and to generate hypotheses (Creswell).

According Leedy and Ormrod (2010) researchers conduct qualitative research as a way of exploring phenomena that happen in natural settings and they study those phenomena in all their complexity. Qualitative research studies serve many reasons, such as they expose the nature of certain situations, they allow researcher to obtain new perspectives about a particular phenomenon, establish new theories or theoretical insights about the experience and determine the issues that are present within the phenomenon. Moreover, qualitative research studies also enable researchers to examine the validity of certain broad assumptions, theories, claims or generalizations within real natural settings. Another benefit of qualitative method is that the potential sources of data are only restricted by the researcher's open mindedness and creativity. However, all data collected should be accurately and systematically recorded to avoid any error in the data analysis (Leedy & Ormrod).

Nevertheless, there are some disadvantages associated with using qualitative methods, such as replication of studies can be difficult; it is almost impossible to avoid researchers' biases because they are built in the method, and; it is labor intensive, expensive and not well understood by classical researchers. However, despite these shortcomings, such method is the most appropriate for the projected study.


Although both research methods can be used to provide answers to some research questions, a qualitative approach is more suitable for the proposed study because it enables inquirers to obtain new perspectives about a particular phenomenon, establish new theories or theoretical insights about the experience and determine the issues that are present within the phenomenon. Also, in a qualitative research, an inquirer is interested is interpreting and making sense of what they observed rather than simplifying, objectifying or quantifying what they examined. The conclusions of a qualitative study are solely based on the interpretations drawn by the researcher, whereas, the inferences drawn from a quantitative research are based upon statistical analysis of data.