September 11, 2007


In my capacity as just a citizen in a participatory democracy, and with a responsibility of being informed, I found reading and thinking through the law school casebook below quite an eye-opening and worthwhile experience.

Dycus, Stephen, William C. Banks & Peter Raven-Hansen, Counterterrorism Law (New York: Aspen Publishers/Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2007).

A thoughtful reading will require one to place aside all the emotional, political, and patriotic jargon and jingolism one encounters every day in the media. It will require one to constantly ask oneself three questions: (1) Will these policies be effective in countering terrorism?; (2) If effective, will these policies necessiate fundamental changes and compromises in important American values and ways of life?; and (3) If so, has terror won already? I do not propose to answer these questions for anyone else (I am not sure I can answer them for myself yet), and neither do the authors of the casebook. Yet, those are the important questions lurking in the shadow and for which thoughtful readers will not be allowed to hide behind the abstract and the general.

Were I to teach a course on counterterrorism (which I would not) I would want to supplement the casebook with some readings from America's political history. An appreciation of the The Red Scare of the earlier 20th century would, I think, provide a valuable point for comparision.