CRJ 524 Week 5 Discussion 1

CRJ 524 Week 5 DQ 1 Ethics and the “War on Terrorism”


1. Ethics and the “War on Terrorism.” 1st Post Due by Day 3. Many commentators label the current “War on Terrorism” as a state of perpetual war. Many issues become apparent when a nation adopts a permanent war setting. Chapter 8 in your text explores many of the ethical issues associated with the War on Terrorism, and the video Treat Terrorists Like Enemy Combatants, Not Criminals: A Debate debates the best methods to handle accused terrorists (Makio, 2010). In this discussion, discuss the morality and expectations for the criminal justice system to be engaged in such a “war.” How does this status of preparedness and aggressive interdiction affect the creation, design, and implementation of morality policies in the criminal justice field? 

Due to the asymmetrical impacts of many acts of terror, the press and the public make certain that governmental institutions place an extremely high amount of value on the preventing acts of terrorism. However, handling terrorists is challenging because per the executive branch, it is a matter of national security and “protecting the public.” For example, Alexander Hamilton stated that, “Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates . . . to be more safe [nations] at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.” Undoubtedly, if it is considered that it is impossible to convict terrorists, governmental institutions will then turn to altering criminal processes and thinning the liberties of accused terrorists to catalyze convictions, as well as, imprisonment without any judicial proceedings and “rendition” (in all its meaning). Or they can employ military or paramilitary resolutions.

Majority if not all those alternatives may encroach on the rule of law. Correspondingly, in this context, much is in jeopardy for the judicial branch. So, when charges of terrorism are presented, magistrates must try to stabilize the constitutional rights of the parties, specifically the defendant on one hand and national security on the other. Notable and occasionally peculiar questions that emerge in such cases comprise “justiciability, deference to the other branches of government, admissibility of evidence, prosecutorial duties of disclosure, and the effect on the press and on public confidence of any departure from open justice” (Welch, 2000).

From an ethical standpoint I believe that residual tension amongst the goals of “prevention and prosecution,” the furthermost important of which is when to make arrests when a terrorist group is being observed and preparing to carry out an attack. Clearly, there is a great risk in allowing the preparation to proceed hoping one can learn as much as possible regrading a specific terror group. However, the risk is that the group may succeed in its endeavors. When the powers that be, hurry to stop an occurrence with untimely arrests, they sometimes miss out on detecting other members of the terrorist cell. Similarly, “they may only have a circumstantial case against those arrested, and one that may fail in court” (Welch, 2000). The whole time officials encounter great deal of pressure from the impractical expectancy of the public and the press that police agencies can both successfully stop and prosecute all terrorists.

The fight against terror can place copious democracies in ethically difficult positions. One irony is that, in this fight, democracies have become more dependent on third party countries operating under laws that they would criticize under different circumstances, such as the strict internal security laws of some Asian nations with which civil liberties minded Western nations would otherwise take issue” (Welch, 2000).


Welch, D. (2000). Ethics and Foreign Policy. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 1(1), 79-88. Retrieved from