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One Nation Under Siege

One Nation Under Siege: Congress, Terrorism, and the Fate of American Democracy

Jocelyn Jones Evans
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    One Nation Under Siege
    Book Description:

    Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America's political institutions underwent radical changes as they adapted to comprehensive security reforms. While the media exhaustively covered new security protocols in the executive office, little attention was paid to other federal agencies and branches that overhauled their systems to accommodate heightened security requirements.

    As a congressional fellow living in Washington, D.C., Jocelyn Jones Evans was an eyewitness to the institutional culture of Capitol Hill before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as during the subsequent anthrax scare. In One Nation Under Siege: Congress, Terrorism, and the Fate of American Democracy, Evans uses her personal experiences as the foundation for a richly researched analysis of how Congress changed as an institution and a national symbol in the wake of 9/11. Evans reveals not only physical transformations but also internal policy shifts that threaten democracy by limiting citizens' access to their elected leaders.

    The only comprehensive study of the effects of terrorism on the nation's capital, One Nation Under Siege provides a detailed investigation of how the nation's intricate political system adapted in times of crisis. It covers an essential chapter in the social and political history of the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7382-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vi-vii)
    (pp. viii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. INTRODUCTION: Congress as an Adaptive Institution
    (pp. 1-25)

    In the fall of 2001, two devastating but separate terrorist attacks threatened the U.S. Capitol. The first threat occurred on September 11, 2001, when a coordinated terrorist plot included a hijacked plane possibly directed at the Capitol Building. Fortunately for the institution, the passengers of Flight 93 thwarted the attack and diverted the plane from D.C. airspace. Nevertheless, this massive scheme caught the Capitol Police sorely unprepared to handle a security threat of this magnitude. The second threat occurred in the months following September 11, 2001. In October, mail containing anthrax spores was discovered in several buildings, ultimately leading to...

  7. 1 RECONCILING SECURITY AND LIBERTY: Attacks on the Capitol and Corresponding Changes in Security
    (pp. 26-51)

    While the terrorist attacks of 2001 alerted Americans to the vulnerability of our economic, political, and military institutions, these events are only the most recent in a long history of attacks on our nation’s symbols of freedom. The Capitol Building, perhaps the most recognizable symbol of modern democratic government in the world, has been the target of several of these attacks. As the above quote suggests, the Capitol security force has grown in tandem with each additional threat, from its original size of a single guard in 1801 to the approximately 1,700 officers that serve on the Capitol Police Force...

  8. 2 ENUNCIATORS AND BLACKBERRYS: Congressional Office Administration Post 9/11
    (pp. 52-78)

    On September 11, 2001, a massive coordinated terrorist attack on the United States threatened the Capitol Complex. All federal office buildings in Washington, D.C., were evacuated; Reagan International Airport was shut down; the Pentagon was ablaze; all monuments were barricaded; and rumors of bombs at the State Department, the White House, and the Capitol proliferated. As oneWashington Postreporter suggested: “The news of the attacks and evacuation of federal buildings sent hundreds of office workers into the streets and created a frenzied atmosphere downtown…. Fire engines roared down streets, dozens of office workers milled in Farragut Square and K...

  9. 3 IS WRITING A LETTER TO YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS A THING OF THE PAST? Congressional Office Communication and Accessibility
    (pp. 79-108)

    In response to the events of 2001, the Capitol Police introduced several new operational norms on the Hill. Some of the most significant changes involved congressional office communications and accessibility to constituents. For example, mail is now sent to a processing facility where it is “cleaned” or irradiated to decontaminate it. The process delays the mail, and often the chemical treatment practically disintegrates letters by the time they reach the congressional office. Members have responded by instituting a number of office-level policies to accommodate the new security-driven protocol. These changes hold significant implications for constituent responsiveness and representation.

    This chapter...

  10. 4 TERROR WARS AND TURF WARS: The Homeland Security Committees
    (pp. 109-137)

    In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the executive and legislative branches took several drastic steps to alter the structure of the federal government to provide improved administration and oversight of homeland security. In the executive branch, these steps included the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, adding a fifteenth department to the federal bureaucracy of President George W. Bush’s administration. The creation of this department led to significant reorganization of the jurisdictions of the existing bureaucratic agencies. A member of the House Republican leadership summarized the institutional changes, stating:

    There is a historical expansion of federal...

  11. 5 GATEWAY TO AMERICAN HISTORY OR FORT CAPITOL? Construction of the Capitol Visitor Center
    (pp. 138-178)

    Donald Ritchie, associate historian of the Senate, reflected, “The Capitol was begun in 1793, when George Washington was president and laid the cornerstone, and it has never been finished.”¹ While the Capitol has changed a great deal over the course of its two-hundred-year history, the greatest expansion in the history of the complex is the Capitol Visitor Center—a new subterranean facility spanning nearly 580,000 square feet, approximately three-quarters the size of the Capitol Building itself. Due to its enormous size, the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) is the first construction project ever contracted out by the Architect of the Capitol....

  12. 6 THE SOCIAL MEANING OF CONGRESSIONAL CHANGE: Expressive, Behavioral, and Symbolic Elements of Institutional Reform
    (pp. 179-188)

    This book explores the impact of terror on Capitol Hill. During the fall of 2001, two separate events combined to raise awareness among decision makers concerning the need for threat assessment, heightened security, and emergency preparedness. The Capitol and its inhabitants became a target for those who would do harm to our nation. The tentacles of change introduced in the aftermath of this period reached every office, every meeting room, every corridor, and even every sidewalk in and around Capitol Hill. From the handling of constituent mail, to the structure of the committee system, to the processing of visitors through...

  13. Appendix A. Members of the Capitol Preservation Commission: 109th–110th Congresses
    (pp. 189-189)
  14. APPENDIX B. Timeline of CVC Project
    (pp. 190-200)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 201-222)
    (pp. 223-240)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 241-249)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 250-250)