Read the following viewpoints on the United States’ strategy to bring terrorists to justice: Suspected terrorists apprehended abroad should have full constitutional rights. Suspected terrorists apprehended abroad should not have any constitutional rights.

Defend one of the two viewpoints and to cite research supporting their position. Think critically by including supportive points for thee selected side of the debate, regardless of whether you agree or disagree.

I believe that terrorists should be dealt with as enemy combatants rather than as criminals. This removes the problem of Constitutional conflicts since they would now fall under Geneva Convention.  By treating these individuals as POWs this means that the US has conformed to the Geneva convention and under Geneva convention rules these individuals and groups can be charged with war crimes when they do not follow the rules of war. This appears to be one of the strengths of terrorist groups in that they blur the line between war combatant and citizen. No doubt these individuals consider themselves soldiers but the problem is that when the US or any country openly applies this title to them they are now validating them as a real organization or nation. This has political implications because it means that these groups have a real cause. However, the problem is that current lack of acknowledgement has not proven to be an effective means of combating the problem. It would seem to me that it would be more effective to treat these groups as a real military enemy (since they are) and then gain greater support for military use to combat the problem. I think terrorist nations would be less likely to support these groups if they knew that they could be held accountable under Geneva Convention or that they were inviting open warfare from larger countries. One great example of this can be seen in Tripoli during the Regan Administration in 1986 when the US was able to use military force to stop terrorism (Hickman, 2015).  Treating the terrorism as a military threat allowed the UN authorizing the use of force against the bombing of Tripoli. The US and RAF were able to strategically strike at the city in order to deal with the terrorist threat that was there. This action was supported by 25 different nations. I believe that this is the problem in the war against terrorism today, that we do not handle it like it is a military action and this only feeds the terrorists ability to act and find allies.


Hickman., K. (2015) International Terrorism: Bombing of Libya (Operation El Dorado Canyon) Retrieved from


It may be more practical to think of efforts to combat terrorism in terms of ‘temporary limitations’ on freedom and liberty. I am convinced that there is no passive method for reducing the risk of terrorism and the methods needed involve invasive methods such as broad powers of surveillance. It may be more effective to setup special oversight structures in law enforcement in order to reduce the risk of abuse. When we look at the lone wolves and self-radicalized individuals we can see the problem clearly. Even small cells are difficult to track.

There are some protections in place that really need to be updated such as the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA).   The FISA Act of 1978 provides procedures for requesting judicial authorization for electronic surveillance and/or a physical search of an individual(s) either engaged in espionage or international terrorism against the United States in behalf of a foreign power (FISA, 2017).   The FISA Act is a key component within the government because it allows Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence to ensure that law enforcement and the intelligence community strive to work together in collecting intelligence.  What is unique about the FISA Act is that it has an oversight party known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that reviews any and all request from law enforcement or the intelligence agencies whom are requesting to conduct a search. The FISA Court provides the approval to ensure that the requests are consistent with the 4th amendment.  In addition, it requires that any modifications to the FISA Act be reported to Congress, to ensure that Congress fulfill its oversight role. The FISA Act is beneficial to national security because it provides a lawful means of gathering national intelligence but it also provides privacy and liberty protections for American citizens. For instance, when targeting individuals outside the United States, attorney general and the director of national intelligence must submit a review to the FISA Court, with the procedures that will be conducted, before a decision is granted by the court that an agency can proceed with their course of action.  The FISA Act also protects American conversations from the intelligence community when foreign individuals are being targeted and procedures as of such are reviewed on annual basis by the FISA Court. In regards to the protection of American citizen’s constitutional rights, the relevance here is that law enforcement cannot precede with warrantless searches or unreasonable government intrusions, unless probable cause is ascertained during the investigation. Only in the instance where a warrantless search can be made constitutional is when probable is impracticable in regards to a threat on law enforcement or in regards to national security, where information is needed to prevent a terrorist threat from taking place on U.S. soil. I am not a fan of loss of privacy but I do think there are instances which may require this measure and using tools such as FISA can assist in this way.


FISA. (2017). Foreign Intelligence and Security Act.