The System of Domestic Counterterrorism Law Enforcement

31 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2013 Last revised: 29 Sep 2014

See all articles by Steven R. Morrison

Steven R. Morrison

University of North Dakota School of Law

Date Written: July 11, 2013


Edward Snowden's recent leaks of the NSA's telephony metadata collection program, and the Internet surveillance programs PRISM and XKeyscore are only the latest iterations of the “big data” phenomenon. Arriving just in time for 9/11, new technologies have enabled government agencies to collect and aggregate massive amounts of information, usable in counterterrorism and domestic law enforcement alike. While such moves have probably stopped some terrorist plots, they also entail systemic inefficiencies that lead unavoidably to unjust results, in the form of both false positives and false negatives. This Article explains these inefficiencies by describing a complex positive feedback loop inherent in domestic counterterrorism law enforcement.

Keywords: nsa, national security agency, PRISM, XKeyscore, telephony metadata, metadata, FISA, telephone, wiretap, counterterrorism, edward snowden, snowden

Suggested Citation

Morrison, Steven R., The System of Domestic Counterterrorism Law Enforcement (July 11, 2013). 25 Stan. L. & Pol'y Rev. 341 (2014), Available at SSRN:

Steven R. Morrison (Contact Author)

University of North Dakota School of Law ( email )

215 Centennial Drive Stop 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202
United States
617-749-7817 (Phone)

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