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Security V. Liberty

Security V. Liberty: Conflicts Between National Security and Civil Liberties in American History

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Security V. Liberty
    Book Description:

    In the weeks following 9/11, the Bush administration launched the Patriot Act, rejected key provisions of the Geneva Convention, and inaugurated a sweeping electronic surveillance program for intelligence purposes—all in the name of protecting national security. But the current administration is hardly unique in pursuing such measures. In Security v. Liberty, Daniel Farber leads a group of prominent historians and legal experts in exploring the varied ways in which threats to national security have affected civil liberties throughout American history. Has the government’s response to such threats led to a gradual loss of freedoms once taken for granted, or has the nation learned how to restore civil liberties after threats subside and how to put protections in place for the future? Security v. Liberty focuses on periods of national emergency in the twentieth century—from World War I through the Vietnam War—to explore how past episodes might bear upon today’s dilemma. Distinguished historian Alan Brinkley shows that during World War I the government targeted vulnerable groups—including socialists, anarchists, and labor leaders—not because of a real threat to the nation, but because it was politically expedient to scapegoat unpopular groups. Nonetheless, within ten years the Supreme Court had rolled back the most egregious of the World War I restrictions on civil liberties. Legal scholar John Yoo argues for the legitimacy of the Bush administration’s War on Terror policies—such as the detainment and trials of suspected al Qaeda members—by citing historical precedent in the Roosevelt administration’s prosecution of World War II. Yoo contends that, compared to Roosevelt’s sweeping use of executive orders, Bush has exercised relative restraint in curtailing civil liberties. Law professor Geoffrey Stone describes how J. Edgar Hoover used domestic surveillance to harass anti-war protestors and civil rights groups throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Congress later enacted legislation to prevent a recurrence of the Hoover era excesses, but Stone notes that the Bush administration has argued for the right to circumvent some of these restrictions in its campaign against terrorism. Historian Jan Ellen Lewis looks at early U.S. history to show how an individual’s civil liberties often depended on the extent to which he or she fit the definition of “American” as the country’s borders expanded. Legal experts Paul Schwartz and Ronald Lee examine the national security implications of rapid advances in information technology, which is increasingly driven by a highly globalized private sector, rather than by the U.S. government. Security v. Liberty shows that civil liberties are a not an immutable right, but the historically shifting result of a continuous struggle that has extended over two centuries. This important new volume provides a penetrating historical and legal analysis of the trade-offs between security and liberty that have shaped our national history—trade-offs that we confront with renewed urgency in a post-9/11 world.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-193-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    Daniel Farber

    Threats to national security generally prompt incursions on civil liberties. The relationship has existed since the presidency of John Adams and has continued through two world wars, the cold war, Vietnam, and today. This historical phenomenon is commonplace, but the implications of that history for our post-9/11 world are less clear.

    In the long run, if we are to cope with present and future crises, we must think deeply about how our historical experience bears on a changing world. This book explores the past and present relationship between civil liberties and national crises, with contributions from leading legal scholars and...

  5. Part I The Modern American Experience

    • Chapter 2 World War I and the Crisis of Democracy
      (pp. 27-41)
      Alan Brinkley

      The American involvement in World War I and its aftermath produced one of the most widespread and virulent assaults on civil liberties in American history. It also created a powerful reaction that helped produce some of the first firm defenses of our modern notion of what civil liberties mean. But unlike other wartime battles over civil liberties, which largely pitted government self-interest against popular expectations, the conflicts of the World War I era pitted one set of fervent democratic passions against another. On one side was President Woodrow Wilson, fired with a mission to redeem the world. On the other...

    • Chapter 3 FDR, Civil Liberties, and the War on Terrorism
      (pp. 42-66)
      John Yoo

      It is commonplace to hear today that the war on terrorism has reduced civil liberties in America. Much of the focus has been on the PATRIOT Act, which expanded the authority of the federal government to seek records and to intercept communications of suspected terrorists within the United States.¹ As staff writer Rick Weiss explained in aWashington Postarticle in late 2003, Al Gore called for the act to be repealed, accused the Bush administration of suspending civil liberties, and claimed that the government was using “fear as a political tool to consolidate its power and to escape any...

    • Chapter 4 “Mere Shadows”: The Early Cold War
      (pp. 67-94)
      Ellen Schrecker

      Kendrick Cole was not a security risk. A New York-based inspector with the Food and Drug Administration, he had been dropped from his position at the end of 1953 under the Eisenhower administration’s security program because of his refusal to answer questions about his hiking companions in a supposedly subversive group called the Nature Friends of America. In 1956, however, the Supreme Court decided that, whatever damage Cole’s fellow hikers might inflict on the nation’s security, there was no way that Cole, whose main duties involved tracking down harmful chemicals, insects, and mouse droppings, could endanger the United States. “It...

    • Chapter 5 The Vietnam War: Spying on Americans
      (pp. 95-114)
      Geoffrey R. Stone

      The Vietnam War triggered one of the most turbulent periods in American history, raising old—and new—questions about the nature and depth of the American commitment to civil liberties in wartime. Opposition to the war came from many quarters and employed a broad range of tactics to challenge the war, ranging from prayer vigils, teach-ins, mass public demonstrations, and nonviolent civil disobedience to mob violence and bombings.

      During more than a decade of conflict, the war in Vietnam provoked bitter dissent and increasingly furious repression. It was an era marked by the Chicago Democratic Convention, the Kent State shootings,...

  6. Part II The Modern Experience in Context

    • Chapter 6 Defining the Nation: 1790 to 1898
      (pp. 117-164)
      Jan Ellen Lewis

      National security, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The term is fraught with emotion yet devoid of specific meaning. This proposition may seem exceedingly provocative, but consider how difficult it is for nations to separate the actual conditions of national security from feelings and perceptions of that elusive state.¹ Any discussion of the connection between national security and civil liberties must confront this dilemma: national security is, to a significant degree, a subjective term, itself the object of political conflict and argumentation, intimately connected, moreover, to the nation’s sense of itself as a nation.

      This problem is...

    • Chapter 7 The Role of the Court
      (pp. 165-188)
      L. A. Powe Jr.

      Civil libertarians are looking to the courts—and especially the Supreme Court—to redeem the Constitution’s ideals from what they believe are the Bush administration’s illegal excesses. American history suggests, however, that the courts may not be the venue that best protects civil liberties. Yet civil libertarians have an answer: the Warren Court changed all that. Perhaps. I will begin with the Warren Court and why its decisions cause civil libertarians to place so much faith in courts and then offer a more complete historical picture to suggest that this faith may be myopic.

      The years just before Senator Joseph...

    • Chapter 8 Technology, Civil Liberties, and National Security
      (pp. 189-207)
      Paul M. Schwartz and Ronald D. Lee

      This chapter departs in two respects from the earlier historical discussions of the dynamic between national security and civil liberties. First, the other authors focus largely on interactions among the executive branch, Congress, the judiciary, and to a lesser degree the public. By contrast, in this chapter we consider technological change and its impact on the behavior and choices of these actors. Second, a leitmotif of the preceding chapters has been the collective national response to war, insurrection, or internal threats, perceived or real. We examine the development of technology, which is increasingly driven by a highly globalized private sector...

    • Chapter 9 Conclusion
      (pp. 208-228)
      Stephen Holmes

      What can richly textured studies of wartime curtailments of civil liberties in American history teach us about the ongoing war on terror? Expertly reprised in this volume, the historical record reveals not only that executive power routinely eclipses legislative and judicial powers during wartime. More alarming, it also implies that the United States actually has two Constitutions, the first for peace and the second for war. At least one contributor to this collection suggests, on the basis of such a retrospective, that George W. Bush has not only responded to 9/11 in a perfectly normal fashion but has actually been...

  7. Index
    (pp. 229-248)