Terrorism Risk Insurance Act: Who is a Terrorist? How the definition evolved since 2002.

Intro:

I try to abstain from making social commentry, but this one I could not resist.  While thumbing through a business insurance policy, I made a connection that I might have not previously made.  [Underlined terms are links.]

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was first implemented in 2002 in response to September 11, 2011.  It seemed like good policy, protecting individuals (and corporate “individuals”) from potential losses that would be suffered during a terrorist attack defined as:

(1) ACT OF TERRORISM-
(A) CERTIFICATION- The term `act of terrorism’ means any act that is certified by the Secretary, in concurrence with the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General of the United States–
(i) to be an act of terrorism;
(ii) to be a violent act or an act that is dangerous to–
(I) human life;
(II) property; or
(III) infrastructure;
(iii) to have resulted in damage within the United States, or outside of the United States in the case of–
(I) an air carrier or vessel described in paragraph (5)(B); or
(II) the premises of a United States mission; and
(iv) to have been committed by an individual or individuals acting on behalf of any foreign person or foreign interest, as part of an effort to coerce the civilian population of the United States or to influence the policy or affect the conduct of the United States Government by coercion.

This section is also interesting, but would be a footnote if I was able to use them in this blog.  It is on the left margin so that it does not break the flow of the arguement.

(12) PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE- The term `property and casualty insurance’–
(A) means commercial lines of property and casualty insurance, including excess insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and surety insurance; and (B) does not include–
(i) Federal crop insurance issued or reinsured under the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.), or any other type of crop or livestock insurance that is privately issued or reinsured;
(ii) private mortgage insurance (as that term is defined in section 2 of the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998 (12 U.S.C. 4901)) or title insurance;
(iii) financial guaranty insurance issued by monoline financial guaranty insurance corporations;
(iv) insurance for medical malpractice;
(v) health or life insurance, including group life insurance;
(vi) flood insurance provided under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.); or
(vii) reinsurance or retrocessional reinsurance.
(So if the damage is so great, the government actually does not have to insure anything!)

By 2007, the definition of “terrorist” had changed.

(1) ACT OF TERRORISM-
(A) CERTIFICATION- The term `act of terrorism’ means any act that is certified by the Secretary, in concurrence with the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General of the United States–
(i) to be an act of terrorism;
(ii) to be a violent act or an act that is dangerous to–
(I) human life;
(II) property; or
(III) infrastructure;
(iii) to have resulted in damage within the United States, or outside of the United States in the case of–
(I) an air carrier or vessel described in paragraph (5)(B); or
(II) the premises of a United States mission; and
(iv) to have been committed by an individual or individuals as part of an effort to coerce the civilian population of the United States or to influence the policy or affect the conduct of the United States Government by coercion.

…what exactly is the “conduct of the United States Government”?

Just to ensure that I am not exagerating this major change.  I’ll use a third governmental source:

SEC. 2. DEFINITION OF ACT OF TERRORISM.

Section 102(1)(A)(iv) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 6701 note) is amended by striking `acting on behalf of any foreign person or foreign interest’.

We are left with a sense of vagueness.

At some point, there needs to be a distintion made between a citizen and a terrorist.  So what is a citizen and what is a good citizen?  Is a good citizen a “good” person?  Is a good citizen an “average” person?  I found this and I really like the analysis.  This study confirms what I always thought, we all have different opinions of what a good citizen is, even within a single country (U.S.).

As a way of illustrating what we see as the limitations of

personally responsible citizenship, recall the central tenets of the Character Counts! Coalition. Certainly honesty, integrity, and responsibility for one’s actions are valuable character traits for good neighbors and citizens. (One might even argue that citizens’ sense that other citizens are dishonest, irresponsible, and lack common decency will undermine their desire to participate in democratic processes.) Still, on their own, these traits are not inherently about democracy. To the extent that these traits detract from other important democratic priorities, they hinder rather than make possible democratic participation and change. For example, a focus on loyalty or obedience (common components of character education as well) work against the kind of critical reflection and action many assume are essential in a democratic society (p.3-4).

Artistotle I am sure has much to say about what a good citizen is.  For the lack of time, I will use just an exert I found on Wikipedia:

Aristotle makes a distinction between the good citizen and the good man, writing, “…there cannot be a single absolute excellence of the good citizen. But the good man is so called in virtue of a single absolute excellence. It is thus clear that it is possible to be a good citizen without possessing the excellence which is the quality of a good man.”(Wikipedia)

So, in the future, there this discussion will arise again.  If citizens do not agree with a policy, are they terrorists?  Is this a matter of opinion?  Gandhi and Martin Luther King went against the status-quo peacefully, yet were they terrorists to some?  These parties also inflicted major economic consequences in their respective communities.

The Boston Tea Party and the American Revolutionary War were not exactly peaceful, but they accomplished the desired result (for the victors).  Were not these people considered terrorists (or at least commited treason) by the King of England?  What about writing something critical about your government?  That theoretically should be protected here: The U.S. Consitution, Amendement #1.  So when does criticism cross an arbitrary threshold from active citizenship into something else?  Has this “standard” been consistent throughout history or are the definition altered when they are found inconvenient by the powers that be.

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