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National Insecurity and Human Rights: Democracies Debate Counterterrorism

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    National Insecurity and Human Rights
    Book Description:

    Human rights is all too often the first casualty of national insecurity. How can democracies cope with the threat of terror while protecting human rights? This timely volume compares the lessons of the United States and Israel with the "best-case scenarios" of the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, and Germany. It demonstrates that threatened democracies have important options, and democratic governance, the rule of law, and international cooperation are crucial foundations for counterterror policy.Contributors:Howard Adelman, Colm Campbell, Pilar Domingo, Richard Falk, David Forsythe, Wolfgang S. Heinz, Pedro Ibarra, Todd Landman, Salvador Martí, Daniel Wehrenfennig

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91616-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Human Rights and National Insecurity
    (pp. 1-13)
    Alison Brysk

    Human rights is the first casualty of unconventional war. Even in liberal democracies, perceptions of national insecurity can rapidly destroy citizen support for international law and democratic values, such as the rule of law and tolerance. Political leaders and defense establishments arrogate the right to determine national interest and security threat, undermining democratic checks and balances and creating a politics of fear. When terrorist violence is framed as a war—an uncontrollable, external, absolute threat to existence and identity—it disrupts the democratic functioning and global ties of target societies. Terrorism has succeeded in destroying democracy when a national security...

  5. 2 Encroaching on the Rule of Law: Post-9/11 Policies within the United States
    (pp. 14-36)
    Richard Falk

    There are several distinguishing features of the American response to the 9/11 attacks that should be considered in evaluating post-9/11 U.S. governmental encroachments on the rule of law. These contextual elements suggest that comparisons with the counterterrorist practices of other countries need to take account of the specificities of the American situation that make it a case apart. Distinctive elements help us understand the course taken by the Bush administration after 9/11 that would remain incomprehensible if viewed purely from a counterterrorist perspective.

    Most prominent among these elements was a preexisting neoconservative blueprint for a more interventionary American foreign policy,...

  6. 3 The United States: Protecting Human Dignity in an Era of Insecurity
    (pp. 37-55)
    David P. Forsythe

    This chapter argues that the George W. Bush administration after 9/11 (1) has engaged in intentional abuse of prisoners in connection with its “war” on terrorism; (2) has failed to limit this abuse to the minimal and genuine requirements of defending the life of the democratic United States; (3) has unwisely sought to minimize any review of its sweeping policies, whether by international or national actors; and (4) has failed in a major way to minimize the negatives inherent in its policy of coercive interrogation, with detrimental effects overall on U.S. national security.

    From the beginning of the U.S. war...

  7. 4 Northern Ireland: Violent Conflict and the Resilience of International Law
    (pp. 56-74)
    Colm Campbell

    A state that defines itself by an ideological commitment to the rule of law (usually, though not universally, coterminous with liberal democracy) tends to behave differently from more authoritarian states. Paradigmatically, the democratic state’s agents operate within the framework of legal powers that we have come to understand as Weberian “formal rationality.” In practice, no state fully conforms to this model, even in peaceful times. At best law has a “relative” rather than an absolute autonomy, and some degree of illegality characterizes the operation of all states (Abel 1995). A variety of substantive, procedural, and evidential factors operate to limit...

  8. 5 The United Kingdom: The Continuity of Terror and Counterterror
    (pp. 75-91)
    Todd Landman

    These statements from the head of MI5, two home secretaries, and the prime minister provide a strong indication of the general mood in the government of the United Kingdom concerning the relative protection of human rights while combating terrorism. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks and with renewed vigor since the London bombings in July 2005, the Labour government has been attempting to fortify its response to terrorism through legislation (e.g., the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act 2001, the Terrorism Act 2006, and the Immigration, Nationality, and Asylum Act 2006) to expand the powers of the Home Office, the police,...

  9. 6 Torturing Democracies: The Curious Debate over the “Israeli Model”
    (pp. 92-117)
    Gershon Shafir

    In 1949, the Israeli writer S. Yizhar (the pen name of Yizhar Smilansky) published a series of short stories about the Israeli War of Independence. In “The Prisoner,” a unit of the home guard takes an Arab shepherd and his sheep captive; during the interrogation of the frightened and confused man, the soldiers mechanically, yet systematically, kick and beat him to pry out information. Though the shepherd cannot tell his own age and seems innumerate, he is tortured to reveal the exact number of the Egyptian soldiers in his village and their armaments. In this macabre scene the shepherd is...

  10. 7 Democracy, Civil Liberties, and Counterterrorist Measures in Spain
    (pp. 118-136)
    Salvador Martí, Pilar Domingo and Pedro Ibarra

    The chapter examines the evolution of counterterrorism legislation in Spain following its transition to democracy from two perspectives. We look at both theformal legal frameworkfor and thepractice and discourseof counterterrorism in terms of their compatibility with human rights and due process, and their impact on broader democratic values. We examine the development of formal aspects of antiterrorist legislation beginning in 1978, when Spain began its transition to democracy, and assess the extent to which they contradicted democratic commitments to civil liberties and due process. We also consider the practice of government and public authorities, which in...

  11. 8 Canada’s Balancing Act: Protecting Human Rights and Countering Terrorist Threats
    (pp. 137-156)
    Howard Adelman

    Before their political defeat by the Conservative Party of Canada, the Honourable Anne McLellan, deputy prime minister and minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, and the Honourable Irwin Cotler, minister of justice in the previous Paul Martin Liberal government, in their joint statement to the Special Senate Committee reexamining the Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA) in November 2005, claimed that “Canada is not immune from the threat of terrorism. We are a target.”¹ Canada has never been directly attacked byforeignterrorists, though in a taped message released on November 12, 2002, Osama bin Laden explicitly named Canada as a target...

  12. 9 Germany: State Responses to Terrorist Challenges and Human Rights
    (pp. 157-176)
    Wolfgang S. Heinz

    Germany has suffered less direct threat than the other countries discussed in this book, and it has thus far maintained one of the most liberal and democratic counterterror policies, demonstrating that another way is possible. The fight against terrorism, especially in its initial stages, usually requires immediate, comprehensive, and stringent action by the state. Often in society there is a sense of shock and helplessness, which elites seek to overcome by resorting to both substantial and symbolic actions. They want to communicate, “We are not helpless and we will no longer be victimized.” Often police and intelligence powers, and sometimes...

  13. 10 Conclusion: Human Rights in Hard Times
    (pp. 177-188)
    Gershon Shafir, Alison Brysk and Daniel Wehrenfennig

    This volume makes the case for human rights in hard times, when violent enemies of the state threaten the lives of large numbers of citizens. We compare the experience of the U.S. trade-off of human rights with most similar systems like the UK and Canada, which have stayed closer to democratic and international standards, to show that threatened democracies have better options. Like Michael Ignatieff, we adopt a comparative and historical perspective to show that this threat is not new—but the lessons we draw from history involve protection of the greater good from the politics of fear, not necessary...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 189-212)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-236)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 237-238)
  17. Index
    (pp. 239-245)