The Threat Of International Terrorism Essay

The Threat Of International Terrorism Essay

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In response to the threat of international terrorism, the United States and United Kingdom have both instituted crisis powers by augmenting the existing laws rather than by suspending them altogether. These augmentations, spurred by the traditional desire to empower the executive in times of crisis, have taken form in new administrative tools that punish at the margins of the crimes they seek to prevent; suspected terrorists are deported or convicted of financial or verbal support rather than prosecuted for actual crimes of violence. The form of these actions has amplified jurists’ habitual deference to the executive during emergencies, allowing groups to be proscribed as terrorist factions or individuals to be deported with little objection. These hyperlegal executive powers have created an arsenal of anti-terrorism tools so tailored to manipulate the nooks and crannies of normal order that an outright suspension of law appears unnecessary.
This novel juridical landscape stems from perhaps the most fundamental concern in emergencies, that the executive be equipped to manage the crisis. The Terrorist Acts of 2000 and 2006 provide latitude for executive discretion, empowering the Secretary of State to designate a group a threat “if he believes it is concerned in terrorism.” The Immigration Rules and Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) acts also permit the Secretary to refuse visa applications on suspicion of terrorism. Executive discretion in crises is a familiar concern, and Carl Schmitt and Justice Clarence Thomas alike have voiced the relative benefits over a sluggish legislature or an ill-informed judiciary. That the United Kingdom reacted to terrorism by conferring additional authority upon the executive is not a...


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...ish equivalent of the DSEA never materialized because such a statute would conceivably provoke public protest and implode in the legislature, as it did in the United States. Likewise, Elaine Scarry argues that in the US it was “local resolutions” and popular dissent that compelled the courts to push back against executive power. Popular opinion, perhaps the reason there was no outright suspension of law in the first place, appears to offer a constraint upon those administrative actions that have appeared in its stead. But if, in fact, our rights receive protection from the tide of public opinion rather than juridical institutions then we have few rights at all in the true sense of the word. In view of this recent expansion of hyperlegal, administrative, and executive power in response to terrorism it appears that liberty indeed “lies in the hearts of men and women.”

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