Balance in the Administration of Justice Security
Recent American polls have suggested that Americans, in a bid to reducing terrorism threats, do not mind sacrificing some of their freedom. The choices faced are usually two; a free country which is prone to terrorist attacks, and a restricted country that is free from terrorism. These are hard choices to make, especially with the view that no restrictions can guarantee absence of a terrorist attack, they merely reduce the chances of occurrence. Some people see no conflict between security and liberty, and instead view security as a means to liberty.
Proper governments use police powers, both military and domestic, to safeguard the liberty of its citizens. According to Coutu (2006), abrogation, cannot however be used to safeguard individual freedom. Governments that use police powers arbitrarily, destroy the values that they are supposed to secure. Before these governments use police powers to place people under surveillance, question them, arrest them, prosecute them, and in international threats, attack enemy countries, they should have comprehensive evidence of threat to the citizens of its country.
This principle is used even in times of war, although procedures and standards, of prosecution and evidence may change. For example, if a certain country supports terrorists, the government has the right to screen or ban citizens arriving from that country. During war, the government has also the right to imprison or execute enemy combatants, without public trials. The major bone of contention when balancing the needs of the justice system and the individual rights of the people, is the perception that individual rights have been trampled on, when enforcing security regulations.
Such rights as freedom of movement, freedom of expression, and rights of privacy are seen to be curtailed, when enforcing security regulations, such as using torture to obtain information, monitoring phone calls to obtain information, and checking IDs when screening people. These three issues are analyzed below, including my suggestions, as a justice administrator, on how to deal with them, so as to balance needs of the justice system and the individual rights of the people. Issues involved in regulation of security. Use of torture to obtain information
According to Coutu and Simon (2007), torture has long been used as a means of extracting information from suspects or prisoners. In the United States, the US army and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are the most notorious government agents that have been reported to use torture in extracting information. In fact, both of them have courses on torture, in their training manuals. Torture is normally conducted in dark rooms, which have no toilets and windows, and its aim is to threaten the suspect into giving information, due to belief that lack of cooperation will lead to physical and emotional trauma.
There have been many instances where the US army has been caught torturing prisoners, the most notable in the Iraqi prisons, and Guantanamo bay, Cuba. The exposure by the media has however led to decrease in such human rights violations. In instances of war, it is difficult for soldiers to balance between the freedom of a person and security obligations. This is because a war is a life and death situation, and does not allow the leisure of thinking rationally before acting, especially when in a battle scene.
However, in case prisoners are captured, in my opinion as a justice administrator, the security obligations should only outweigh individual rights, and allow reasonable level of torture, if either of three conditions are met. The prisoner should have information that is; crucial to saving lives of other people, will help in achievement of the war mission, or will help prevent further destruction of property. As stated above, reasonable level of torture should be used in these circumstances, and it must be carried out in the presence of a qualified physician.
In case it is not during a war situation, my opinion is a fourth condition is introduced; that a court of law should be convinced that there is evidence that suggests, that torture is the only means that can be used to extract that information. Monitoring phone calls to obtain security threats. According to Stephens and Glenn (2006), telephone and wire taps have been used to obtain information, by third parties, for a relatively long time. Its history can be traced to as early as 1890s and has been carried out in the US, under several presidents.
Wire tapping has for many years been used to catch spies, or to spy against foreign countries with a view of obtaining strategic information. However, it has taken a different dimension recently, and is largely used to either catch criminals in the act, or to prevent crimes from happening. This involves tapping the telephones that are used or placing bugging devices close to suspects, so that they might capture their conversation. There have been calls for restriction of wire taps, since it is seen as violation of the right of privacy.
This is especially true because of the tendency of government agents to abuse such powers, and tap phones, even where there is no accompanying evidence to suggest a crime. When deciding on the use of wire taps, it is important to weigh the security of the wider public, against the rights of the individual. In case the security threat outweighs the rights of the individual, wire taps may be used. However, before wire taps are used, in my opinion as a justice administrator, a court of law has to authorize it, and three conditions must be satisfied.
The first is that, it should be proved that there is evidence against a suspect that links him or her to committing, or trying to commit a crime. The second is the alleged crime has to be material enough to warrant a wire tap. The third is that there should be no other possible way to link the suspect to the crime, other than use of a wire tap, and that the chances of its success should be reasonably high. In this case, the security of the wider public will have out weighed the individual freedom, and use of phone taps will be reasonable. ID checks in screening people
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, there has been increase in checking of IDs, as a preventive measure against criminal activity. IDs are checked when using airlines, checking into hotels, entering a government building and sometimes even entering a hospital. These checks are all aimed at ensuring security prevails, but some people see it as invasion of privacy, and restricting freedom of movement. When trying to balance liberty and security, it is imperative that a cost benefit analysis is done, and benefits of such measures weighed against costs.
In this case, checking IDs should have more benefits against costs, but that is not the case. In fact, according to Toner (2002), all the September 11 terrorist attacks were carried out by people with IDs; some were fake, others were genuine. They carried them since they expected to be asked for them. IDs are very easily forged, and are readily available; teenagers use them often to enter clubs when they are under-aged. IDs are also useless to check, if there is no accompanying profile; this means merely having an ID of a criminal without knowledge that he or she is one, does not have any benefit.
Presence of profiles divides people into two classes; those that fit the profile and are thus screened cautiously, and those who do not fit the profile and are thus not screened very cautiously. This exposes a very dangerous third category of those who are criminals but do not fit the profile. Examples are Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, and John Allen, the Washington sniper. In such circumstances, it is clear that benefits of ID checks are lower than their costs, the cost being intrusion of privacy and freedom of movement.
In my opinion as a justice administrator, it is important to cease such checks, since they limit freedom and liberty, without reasonable benefits on security of the wider public. The police should use other approaches such as random checks, which are less predictable than regular checks. Changes in technology and mass communication and effects on justice and security areas. The advent of globalization has turned the world into a global village. According to Waldron (2003), it is possible to carry out business activities, communicate, learn, share ideas, and so much more, with anyone in any part of the world, through the Internet.
Mobile phone technology has also made it possible for people in all corners of the world to communicate and interact with one another. This is the reason that e-mails and mobile phones have played an important role in many people’s lives. However, criminals have also had access to these forms of communication and interaction, which has presented a danger to the society. Technology has enabled criminals to carry out their activities faster, and with higher precision. Technology has enabled them to communicate faster amongst themselves, and obtain information about their targets.
Changes in technology have also been the downfall of criminals. Through use of mobile phones and emails, criminals have left traces of their criminal activities and identities. This is because communication between themselves can be recorded, fingerprints and DNA can be ‘lifted’ from crime scenes, and data can be recovered from computers and phones that they use. This has been the key to solving many crimes, since it places the suspects at the crime scene, and may unearth crucial evidence to use in prosecution. This is what investigators have relied on, over the years.
New technology has enabled investigators to be able to monitor suspects’ movements and communication through ‘bugs’ placed on phones that record conversations and cameras that monitor movements of suspects. However, there has been cases where investigators have abused their powers, by illegally listening to conversations of people, without evidence that they are potential suspects. This is what has been regarded by people as restricting the freedom of privacy. Mass media has played a very important role in highlighting issues regarding to liberty and security of citizens.
The media has played a very important role, especially with regards to exposing human rights abuses by US soldiers, both in Iraqi prisons and Guantanamo bay, in Cuba. In both instances, the media exposed torture on unarmed prisoners, and in other cases, on non-combatants. This was previously restricted to the closed walls of prison, but once it was exposed, the abuses had to cease, due to the spotlight on the soldiers. The mass media can thus be said to have played a crucial role in restoring justice, in that respect. Conclusion
It is evident that the balance between individual rights and the administration of security is difficult. This is because some people complain, when administration of security is done, under the guise of violation of their rights. On the other hand, when crimes are committed, they are the first ones to blame the security agencies. This makes it a very delicate affair and the administrators of justice should ensure that a balance between the two is maintained. This can be done by weighing the benefits of the administration of security to the wider public, against the rights of the individual.
If the benefits to the wider public outweigh those of the individual, then the security measures should be performed. Another way of ensuring the balance of security and individual rights, especially during a war situation, is to make sure that the decision to torture someone should be guided by saving of lives, accomplishing of war objectives, or saving of property. However, it should be noted that during war, torture should be done to reasonable levels, and that a qualified physician should be present.
In absence of war, torture should be approved by a court of law, after examining evidence presented, and ruling that torture is inevitable. In the case of phone taps, this should only be allowed after a court of law weighs evidence produced, and concludes that phone taps are the best way of obtaining evidence against the suspect, under such circumstances. ID checks should only be allowed if done at random, since the criminals do not anticipate them. References. Coutu, M. (2006). The Aftermath of 11 September 2001: Liberty Vs. Security. Washington: OUP. Coutu, N.
E. , Simon, R. L. (2007), The Individual and the Political Order: An Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Stephens, O. H. , Glenn, R. A. (2006), Unreasonable Searches and Seizures: Rights and Liberties Under the Law. Chicago: ABC-CLIO. Toner, R. (2002). A nation challenged: The terrorism fight; civil liberty vs security. New York Times. Retrieved on October 23, 2008 from <facultystaff. vwc. edu>. Waldron, J. (2003). Security and liberty: The image of balance. The Journal of Political Philosophy. Boston: Blackwell Synergy.