US policy to bring terrorists to justice

30-06-2015

US counter-terrorism strategy continues to be at the centre of public attention, with the recent drone strike, killing Yemeni al Quaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi on 16 June 2015. The US government relies on a wide range of tools, inter alia intelligence, law enforcement and foreign policy. US measures to bring terrorists to justice are still being debated and slowly redefined, primarily through court rulings assessing their compatibility with US constitutional law. The United States' criminal law has been broadened in scope, with wide extraterritorial application allowing prosecution of terrorists of other nationalities committing crimes outside the US. Certain measures taken in parallel to the domestic criminal procedure, such as the institution of ad hoc military commissions and the retention of prisoners in Guantanamo, have been challenged in the courts. The counter-terrorism strategy relies on surveillance machinery involving various actors at the federal and state level, whose task is to identify suspects and gather evidence. The use of technology has created new opportunities for security controls but has also shown how difficult it is to strike a balance between the protection of rights, such as the right to privacy, and these new surveillance methods. The debates on the NSA surveillance programme and the court cases on the No Fly List are but examples of a broader debate on the human rights limits of some security measures taken to fight terrorism. The US deems its collaboration with international actors and the EU in this domain as essential, not least because the functioning of its surveillance apparatus depends in part on information gathered abroad. However, concerns persist over the eventual implications for constitutional rights and freedoms that the US model entails, and these have become one of the major sources of opposition to the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership with the US. A new act has been introduced in the US Senate proposing the extension of redress rights under the Privacy Act to major US allies.

US counter-terrorism strategy continues to be at the centre of public attention, with the recent drone strike, killing Yemeni al Quaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi on 16 June 2015. The US government relies on a wide range of tools, inter alia intelligence, law enforcement and foreign policy. US measures to bring terrorists to justice are still being debated and slowly redefined, primarily through court rulings assessing their compatibility with US constitutional law. The United States' criminal law has been broadened in scope, with wide extraterritorial application allowing prosecution of terrorists of other nationalities committing crimes outside the US. Certain measures taken in parallel to the domestic criminal procedure, such as the institution of ad hoc military commissions and the retention of prisoners in Guantanamo, have been challenged in the courts. The counter-terrorism strategy relies on surveillance machinery involving various actors at the federal and state level, whose task is to identify suspects and gather evidence. The use of technology has created new opportunities for security controls but has also shown how difficult it is to strike a balance between the protection of rights, such as the right to privacy, and these new surveillance methods. The debates on the NSA surveillance programme and the court cases on the No Fly List are but examples of a broader debate on the human rights limits of some security measures taken to fight terrorism. The US deems its collaboration with international actors and the EU in this domain as essential, not least because the functioning of its surveillance apparatus depends in part on information gathered abroad. However, concerns persist over the eventual implications for constitutional rights and freedoms that the US model entails, and these have become one of the major sources of opposition to the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership with the US. A new act has been introduced in the US Senate proposing the extension of redress rights under the Privacy Act to major US allies.