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The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights Paperback – September 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556525559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556525551
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,490,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the wake of 9/11, many Americans have been willing to sacrifice some of their freedoms in exchange for national security. But in this edifying volume, Cassel, a practicing attorney and law professor, contends that the Bush administration has eroded our rights without necessarily making us safer. Offering sharp critiques of the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts, Cassel argues that Bush and Ashcroft have dangerously curtailed Americans’ freedom of speech and religion, their right to a fair trial, and their protection from torture and unreasonable search and seizure. She astutely criticizes the "continued expansion of the word terrorism," which now encompasses, she says, "any opponent of government policy." She also provides numerous examples of the Bush administration’s use of secrecy, declaring that "secret evidence and secret trials are the most dangerous threats to our civil liberties"—the stuff of despotism not democracy. The bulk of the book describes major terrorism trials, including cases against Muslim charities, immigrants, lawyers and "enemy combatants"—both Guantanamo Bay prisoners and U.S. citizens. Readers may find some of these discussions repetitive and outdated; the author herself admits that many of these trials are still "being played out in the courts," and it’s hard to "chronicle a moving target." In her introduction, Cassel cites a speech by the late William Kunstler: "Once fear takes root, then people will say, ‘What does it matter…if he didn’t get his Fifth, or Fourth, or Sixth or Eighth Amendment rights? That doesn’t affect me. I’m not on trial.’" However, the erosion of civil liberties, she says, threatens not only Arabs and Muslims, but also acts as "a harbinger of widespread changes in the legal system for all Americans." Even those who disagree with Cassel may find this book’s facts eye-opening and chilling.
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"Eye-opening and chilling."Publishers Weekly

"This timely book takes readers behind the headlines and into a brave new world of summary deportations, vengeful prosecutions, and imperiled freedoms. In clear, accessible language, Elaine Cassel untangles the implications of anti-terror laws and tracks their harrowing effects." —Roger N. Lancaster, author, The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture

"She names the names . . . and describes absurd regulations under which innocent American citizens can be convicted of terrorism." —
--This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Justicia on August 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
I cannot think of a title for this review more clever and apt than Cassel's. If David Cole is the Samuel Adams of our time, then Elaine Cassel is the Mercy Otis Warren. This book takes on the herculean task of documenting the erosion of civil rights and liberties during the Bush/Ashcroft regime. To the extent that some topics about which she writes have been superseded by events (such as the Supreme Court's enemy combatant decisions, the 9/11 Commission Report, and the revelation of the government's torture memos), Cassel is the first to recognize that her subject matter is a moving target, with daily incursions that make up-to-the-minute comprehensiveness impossible. However, her book is still timely and current events only augment her point and serve as an "a fortiori" argument.

Not only does Cassel do a great job synethsizing the numerous instances in which we have surrendered liberty to purchase security, but she shows how this is a false tradeoff and offers real solutions, from staying informed to voting.

One can only hope that this book will become a victim of its own success, but we will have to wait until November to see. Meanwhile, for a cogent and important argument about how our leaders have eagerly sacrificed civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism -- and how this strategy is unnecessary, unwise and unconstitutional -- this book is a must-read.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Scanlon VINE VOICE on August 3, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
WAtch the dissolution of our once great and honored BIll of RIghts. We must read this book and weep for our lost once great nation. It is time to take action now. IT is never too llate. Never surrender. Read this book.

Famously we americans do not know our own constitution. We have been reduced to honoring a tri-color military banner once used for positioning on battlefields. We do not know our own Consitution, anymore than most self-proclaimed religious people have studied the Bible. We are ignorant of our own great Bill of Rights, and when we hear for the first time the rights we have, we figure it must be some communist liberal document. It is the rights our forefathers fought and died for. IT is the rights we now have lost forever.

REad this book and weep, grieve, and act.
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