Terrorism is notoriously difficult to define and its definitions selectively applied.
The difficulties of defining terrorism, combined with the ease with which states apply the label, means that what we view as terrorism is largely shaped through counter measures.
History, however, demonstrates that counter terrorism frequently does far more harm than the violence it purportedly addresses.
States have enormous power to vilify their enemies as terrorists, regardless of the facts.
States always assert that counter terrorism is a necessary defense against the violence of others.
However, states frequently engage in (directly, or by proxy), fabricate, or provoke terrorism as a ploy to pursue hidden agendas.Intelligence is gathered and interpreted through undisclosed assumptions, ideological predispositions, racial prejudice and intersecting vested interests linked to partisan politics, corporate priorities, and foreign policy.The Chairman of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, for example, concluded in a 2008 statement about the invasion of Iraq that, In making the case for war, the administration, repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 2008).In the previous decade, for example, the global war on terror has been the primary means of advancing what Noam Chomsky calls Americas Imperial Grand Strategy (Keenan 2010).Apart from masking and facilitating state crime, counter terrorism can fuel the political divisions and conflict that underpin the violence that it is said to be countering.Israel has long justified, and continues to justify systematic abuse of Palestinians human rights, including torture, house demolitions, beatings, use as human shields, violent incursions, and extrajudicial assassinations as counter terrorism (Nasr 2010).The British militarys counter terrorism in Ireland during the 1970s included shoot-to-kill policies, torture, internment without charge or trial, the banning of freedom of expression, and a move away from a criminal justice system based on the presumption of innocence.During the past decade, counter terrorism in the war on terror has been linked to state crimes including crimes of aggression, (Kramer and Michalowski 2005), torture (Danner 2004), police crime (Mc Culloch and Sentas 2006) corruption, and state corporate crime (Whyte 2007).States argue that in the face of the exceptional threat of terrorism it is necessary to breach fundamental human rights and sometimes to undertake preemptive military action.Complacency over state violence is not justified by the history of counter terrorism.States, through the military, police, and intelligence and security services have enormous capacity to coerce and inflict violence.