Making better policy

USA Patriot Act,
USA Patriot Act,

The terrorist threat in the United States is episodic, sporadic and inconsistent. Too often policies react to fear rather than real threat estimates.

For example, there is no empirical evidence to support President Trump’s recent decision to ban citizens of six majority-Muslim countries from travel to the U.S. in the name of preventing terrorist infiltration.

Trump’s executive order of March 2017 would halt travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. But no one from these countries has been involved in a fatal terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11.

What’s more, these policies are hard to undo. For example, the USA Patriot Act, passed in the chaotic aftermath of 9/11, was designed to “deter and punish terrorist acts,” but was quickly expanded by law enforcement officials to prosecute drug offenses and other non-terrorist crimes.

Such an expansion raises concerns about privacy and the power of the federal government.

Successful policy requires collecting the best information possible, honestly accessing it and avoiding over reaction.

[Copyright By Gary LaFree]

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