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Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties In The Name Of National Security Paperback – March 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"In responding to the threat of terrorism, we must not trample upon the very freedoms that we are fighting for," say Cole and Dempsey, experts on civil rights law. Reminding readers that the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act, passed under the "influences of emotion and political posturing," was not only contrary to civil rights but also ineffective, they assert that a similar overreaction has occurred with the 2001 PATRIOT Act and conclude that there can be no trade-off between security and civil liberties.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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A most useful book on a delicate subject. -- Gore Vidal

Timely and important....This is a book every citizen should read and act upon. -- Political Science Quarterly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; 3rd edition (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565849396
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565849396
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,018,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Cole is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a volunteer staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is also legal affairs correspondent for The Nation and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. He is also the author of the American Book Award-winning Enemy Aliens; Less Safe, Less Free (with Jules Lobel); The Torture Memos; and Terrorism and the Constitution, all published by The New Press. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. Martin on October 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This edition is an updated version of the authors earlier book written in the wake of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act. Remember that Act? That was the one passed in response to Oklanhoma City and gave "sweeping new powers" to federal authorities, so that such a horrible act of terrorism, would never, ever, never, never happen ever again!
Now with 9/11 and the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" (U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T) Act (how much time, do you suppose, does it take to come with these acronyms?), the authors are back with a critical look at a drive towards what has very little to do with counterterrorism and quite a bit to do with increasing and centralizing power.
In the past 12 months we've had proposals for a national ID card, a missle defense system, legalized torture, suspension of writ of habeas corpus, a "homeland security" infrastructure that is heavily reliant on security technologies of dubious value. Basically the only thing that has changed that would have prevented the 9/11 are locked Cabin doors and the newfound general awareness that "cooperating with the hijacker" might not be the best policy for passeners.
Also along the way, a steady trickle of stories of missed opportunities, ignored warning and frustrated investingations have come out regarding the FBI and others to use the powers they already do have.
The bulk of the book deals with FBI misdeed during the Cold War and proposes an unfashionable counterrorism strategy that emphasizes the responsibility of actors, not ideology. Basically, trying to treat terrrorism as a crime not as war.
The proposals are a little narrow. Terrorism of the sort represented by al Quaeda is international, not just national.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on December 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Government response to 'terrorism' is not new; we have previously understood that in 'times of war' civil liberties were suspended (supposedly for the national good). We also know that times of panic (Joe McCarthy) had also prompted otherwise reasonable people to abandon their civil liberties for the now-familiar promise of 'national security'.

Yet, what is new about the post 9/11 climate is the depth of these anti-terrorism policies and the general public's apparent willingness to sacrifice their freedom inexplicably to receive 'security'.

Whether it is the terror alert 'color' of the day, or the list of people who can/cannot fly on planes, national security could instead be used as a tool to generate even more fear...or a weapon to attack political dissenters.

A government effectively stifling criticism of its policies as `being for the terrorists' is allowed to do whatever it wants to citizens whenever it wants. Reminiscent of Nazi Germany, people who still attempt to critique government policy (including the Patriot Act) quickly find themselves labeled as an enemy of the state.

It is significant that the first edition of this book was published after the Oklahoma City bombing. Everybody had agreed this event was a national tragedy, yet the government did not use it as a battering ram to dismantle citizen civil liberties and/or eliminate people whom they have disagreed with. By focusing on case specifics, the Clinton administration found the people who were responsible for that incident (two disgruntled veterans from America's heartland!).

Sharply contrasting, the measures taken in response to 9/11 demonstrate excess and paranoia. "Homeland security" permits the Bush White House to target ANYBODY it does not like.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Chlanda on September 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book gives a frightening look at how post-9/11 paranoia and the aftermath of that horrific event have lead to the diminution of civil liberties in the U.S.. The passage of the so-called "Patriot Act(s)" will not only make ethnic groups (particularly Arab/Muslims, given that 9/11 was perpetrated by members of that ethnic group) [a] cause to worry, even Americans may be, if their views don't match the current Administration's views, subject to loss of constitutional rights. [The ACLU would have a field day about this, if the premise of the book is true.] It is an important book to read and should be read by everyone who thinks that their civil liberties are unable to be violated by the government. (Conservatives will call this book nonsense, but most of us [moderates and liberals] will find the book an eye-opening study of overreaction and paranoia, by the government, as a result of 9/11.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not able to put the book down, absolutely amazing!
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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mike Warrior on August 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book appears more to be an alarmist than pointing out a real solution to what the author considers as a growing problem. Since 2001 PATRIOT Act, the main problem civil liberities activists have is monitoring international calls from suspected terrorists. If this is all the problems these people have including the author, other than speculating what might happen, then there is no real problem with the 2001 PATRIOT Act that's going to take the average American's liberities away.
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