This paper provides a short update on issues around the impacts of the use of counter terrorism measures (CTMs) and their impact on civil society internationally. Since initial INTRAC research the language of the ‘war on terror’ has been abandoned in both the UK and US. Nonetheless, although the phrase is used less frequently, the underlying impact of the approach has changed little and civil society is still adversely affected.
Seeking to distinguish itself from the previous administration, the Obama administration took initial steps to close the Guantanamo detention facility and declared its determination to change the United States’ relationship with the Muslim world. However, the substance of the counter-terrorism legislation remains in place. In 2010, President Obama signed into bill the extension of expiring provisions of the US PATRIOT Act. This indicates that anti-terrorism laws have become embedded in the political and social systems of many states, and institutionalised as part of a new counter-terrorism regime. Polls indicate that when a terror-related incident occurs, it is followed ‘very closely’ by much of the American public. Therefore challenging overly aggressive CTMs policy regimes, instituted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, will require much more than a change of language. This is unlikely to be achieved without pressure from society at large, and civil society organisations in particular.