The Real ID Act: Privacy and Government Surveillance

By William Eyre | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3:
Total Surveillance

Counter-Terrorism

The reason given to the American people for the imposition of dramatic new surveillance measures and the limitation of individuals’ rights under the law was the need to fight terrorism. The fundamental assumption is that there is not just a way to discover known and active terrorists through surveillance, but also a way to predict who might become a terrorist and how or when terrorist acts might be committed.

There are two components inherent in the problem of counterterrorism. The first is to identify terrorists. The second is the question of what to do with the terrorists once they’ve been identified.

The problem of identifying terrorists can itself be broken down into two elements. The first element is identification of those who have committed terrorist acts in the past. It can further be assumed that those who have committed terrorist acts in the past would be plotting to commit terrorist acts in the future. The second element has to do with attempting to identify terrorists before they become terrorists. This is the predictive aspect of the policy of prevention of terrorism.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act specified the manner in which eavesdropping warrants were to be obtained for the purposes of conducting surveillance against suspected agents of foreign powers and suspected terrorists. In the aftermath of 9/11, members of the Bush administration claimed that FISA hamstrung the ability of law enforcement and intelligence services to conduct surveillance. The reason for the surveillance the government wanted to conduct under FISA was for the purpose of “preventing” terrorism.

After 9/11, preventing terrorism became a top priority of the administration, and five years after 9/11, the Executive Branch published the updated National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. The original national strategy document was published in February 2003. This document outlines the steps that the U.S. Government would take to combat terrorism (National Strategy, 2006).

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The Real ID Act: Privacy and Government Surveillance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Law and Society Recent Scholarship i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Chapter 1- Surveillance Today 1
  • Chapter 2- Foundational Theory of Surveillance 65
  • Chapter 3- Total Surveillance 85
  • Chapter 4- Technology of the Real Id Act 105
  • Chapter 5- The Real Id Act- Threat to Freedom 135
  • Epilogue 159
  • References 161
  • Index 195
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