Syllabus for HLS-410



Counterterrorism: Constitutional and Legislative Issues (HLS-410) explores various legal aspects of terrorism and counterterrorism, including counterterrorism practices since September 11, 2001. The course examines the tools used in the fight against terrorism, such as the USA PATRIOT Act, U.S. intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and tribunals. The course also discusses the legal and ethical impact of the "war on terrorism" on the civil liberties of U.S. citizens and noncombatants.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss the concepts of terrorism and counterterrorism and compare and contrast methods of preparation for terrorism and responses to terrorism in the United States in a post-9/11 environment.
  2. Explain and assess the relevant parts of the U.S. Constitution and federal habeas corpus statute as they apply to both foreign and U.S. prisoners charged under the various post-9/11 terrorism laws.
  3. Identify and evaluate the results of the involvement of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the use of surveillance technology and other techniques pertaining to both intelligence-gathering and criminal activities in the United States.
  4. Examine and evaluate U.S. laws involving the use of questioning and coercive interrogation techniques, to include torture, regarding suspected terrorists.
  5. Critically examine the use of racial profiling, seizure, detainment, and registration of Middle Eastern individuals as a result of post-9/11 legislation and directives and assess the legality and civil rights aspects of these activities.
  6. Assess the critical aspects of the war on terrorism from ethical perspectives.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbooks

  1. Terrorism and Counterterrorism, 4th ed., Brigitte L. Nacos (Longman/Pearson, 2012).

ISBN-13: 978-0-205-00580-2

  1. Civil Liberties vs. National Security in a Post-9/11 World, edited by M. Katherine B. Darmer, Robert M. Baird, and Stuart E. Rosenbaum (Amherst NY: Prometheus Books, 2004).

ISBN-10: 1-59-102234-7


Counterterrorism: Constitutional and Legislative Issues is a three-credit online course, consisting of six (6) modules. Modules include learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.

  1. Module 1: Understanding Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and Responses to Terrorism

  1. Module 2: Terrorism and the United States Constitution

  1. Module 3: Terrorism and the Constitutionality of the Actions of Law Enforcement Agencies

  1. Module 4: Legal Aspects of Detention and the Use of Torture as an Interrogation Technique

  1. Module 5: The Constitutionality of the Use of Racial Profiling, Seizure, and Detainment in the War on Terrorism

  1. Module 6: The Bush Doctrine and the Evolution of National Security Strategy Policies

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to read the texts as assigned, participate in six (6) graded online discussions, complete and submit six (6) written assignments, take six (6) graded online quizzes, and prepare and submit a final paper. See below for more details.

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to posting an ungraded but required "Introductions" forum, you are required to participate in six (6) graded online discussions, each focusing on an issue relating to counterterrorism.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct assignments: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation.

Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Deadlines for posting responses to the discussion questions are given in the course Calendar.

Specific directions for these assignments, and the questions to be discussed, are given in the individual Assignment Modules.

For posting guidelines and help with discussion forums, please see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.

Written Assignments

You are required to submit six (6) written assignments for Counterterrorism: Constitutional and Legislative Issues. Each assignment is an essay. The assignments are a way for you to express yourself verbally, controlling content and meaning and demonstrating the ability to analyze, assess, and integrate concepts and situations. Your assignments should be professionally presented, using clear syntax and correct grammar and spelling.

Each written assignment answer should be complete and well developed and convey your understanding of the course materials. Written assignments should be typed and double-spaced. You may use research sources in addition to your required course materials listed in the syllabus. These may be print or online sources. When you are paraphrasing or quoting from any source, remember to cite the source, using footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography. When listing sources, you should use the APA style.

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

For help regarding preparing and submitting assignments, see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.



Counterterrorism: Constitutional and Legislative Issues requires you to take six (6) open-book online quizzes—one quiz for each module. These quizzes count 24 percent toward your final grade in the course. They are timed assessments (maximum one (1) hour) and may be accessed and taken only once. Each quiz consists of three or four essay questions. Each answer should be complete and well developed and convey your understanding of the course materials.

Since you may enter and take a quiz only once, please set aside sufficient time to complete the quiz without interruptions, and do not enter the quiz until you are ready to take it. Once you quit the quiz or time has expired, you will not be allowed to re-enter the quiz at a later time. Deadlines for taking quizzes are given in the course Calendar.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during the exam. Cheating means:

  1. Looking up any answer or part of an answer in an unauthorized textbook or on the Internet, or using any other source to find the answer.
  2. Copying and pasting or in any way copying responses or parts of responses from any other source into your online test. This includes but is not limited to copying and pasting from other documents or spreadsheets, whether written by yourself or anyone else.
  3. Plagiarizing answers.
  4. Asking anyone else to assist you by whatever means available while you take the exam.
  5. Copying any part of the exam to share with other students.
  6. Telling your mentor that you need another attempt at the exam because your connection to the Internet was interrupted when that is not true.

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in your exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Paper

A 15-page paper acts as your final assessment and is worth 22 percent of your grade. You must submit the final paper by the last week of the semester. The paper topic question is listed in the Final Paper module.

You should start by preparing an outline for your paper that provides your plan for answering the question. In the outline you should state the main idea or thesis of the paper, the points you intend to make to support your thesis, and the conclusion that restates and supports the main idea of the paper. You should list sources you intend to use in the preparation of your paper.

Your final paper should be well developed and should convey your understanding of readings and concepts, as well as answer the question adequately. In it, you should demonstrate the ability to analyze, assess, and integrate concepts and situations. The paper should be organized, coherent, and unified; it should also be free of spelling and grammatical errors.

Citations/references from the required texts and beyond must be identified. Additional research, either print or online, beyond the course texts is required to enhance your points. When quoting or paraphrasing from the text or other sources, be sure to cite the source of information properly according to MLA or APA guidelines (see also Basic Documentation Rules).

Prepare your final paper using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

If your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your paper as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

For help regarding preparing and submitting assignments, see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online discussions (6)—18 percent
  2. Written assignments (6)—36 percent
  3. Online quizzes (6)—24 percent
  4. Final paper—22 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a nonarea of study course), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.

  1. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course, how to schedule exams, and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.

  1. Arrange to take your examination(s) by following the instructions in this Syllabus and the Online Student Handbook.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.

  1. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism.  (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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