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Vol 21 No 11 Nov/Dec 2016

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Law, Liberty and the Pursuit of Terrorism

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ISBN13: 9780472119097
Published: August 2014
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Country of Publication: USA
Format: Hardback
Price: £64.50



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Roger Douglas compares responses to terrorism by five liberal democracies--the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand--over the past 15 years. He examines each nation's development and implementation of counterterrorism law, specifically in the areas of information-gathering, the definition of terrorist offenses, due process for the accused, detention, and torture and other forms of coercive questioning.

Douglas finds that terrorist attacks elicit pressures for quick responses, often allowing national governments to accrue additional powers. But emergencies are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for such laws, which may persist even after fears have eased. He argues that responses are influenced by both institutional interests and prior beliefs, and complicated when the exigencies of office and beliefs point in different directions. He also argues that citizens are wary of government's impingement on civil liberties and that courts exercise their capacity to restrain the legislative and executive branches. Douglas concludes that the worst antiterror excesses have taken place outside of rather than within the law and that the legacy of 9/11 includes both laws that expand government powers and judicial decisions that limit those very powers.