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The Cost of Counterterrorism


  • Page extent: 514 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.71 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521605878)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published April 2008

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$62.99 (C)

In the aftermath of a terrorist attack political stakes are high: legislators fear being seen as lenient or indifferent and often grant the executive broader authorities without thorough debate. The judiciary's role, too, is restricted: constitutional structure and cultural norms narrow the courts' ability to check the executive at all but the margins. The dominant 'Security or Freedom' framework for evaluating counterterrorist law thus fails to capture an important characteristic: increased executive power that shifts the balance between branches of government. This book re-calculates the cost of counterterrorist law to the United Kingdom and the United States, arguing that the damage caused is significantly greater than first appears. Donohue warns that the proliferation of biological and nuclear materials, together with willingness on the part of extremists to sacrifice themselves, may drive each country to take increasingly drastic measures with a resultant shift in the basic structure of both states.


1. The perilous dichotomy; 2. Indefinite detention and coercive interrogation; 3. Financial counterterrorism; 4. Privacy and surveillance; 5. Terrorist speech and free expression; 6. Auxiliary precautions.


“Laura Donohue’s sophisticated and complex analysis of counterterrorism law in Britain and the United States warns of the risks to fundamental individual rights when democracies establish counterterrorist regimes. Although governments frame their initiatives in terms of a choice between security and freedom, Donohue challenges this logic. Loss of liberty is not necessarily balanced by gain in safety. Compromises intended to be temporary turn out to be permanent. Leaders and citizens of democracies would be well advised to heed this pointed and timely warning.”
Martha Crenshaw, Senior Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University

“Laura Donohue’s is a distinctive and authoritative voice in the field of counter-terrorism law. Her account of the impact of such laws on civil liberties in Britain and the US is comprehensive and compelling, but it is also very disturbing to those who care about freedom.”
Conor Gearty, Professor of Human Rights Law, London School of Economics

“This masterly analysis of recent counter-terrorist legislation in the UK and USA should be required reading for governments and legislators on both sides of the Atlantic. It should also be read by all those who care about the price of security in terms of personal freedom and human rights.”
Rt Hon Lord Lloyd of Berwick

“Within the context of the allied jurisdictions of the United Kingdom and the United States, this book offers a uniquely detailed thematic audit of the drastic reshaping of the law for the sake of security against terrorism. It is indisputably the finest comparative exposition and analysis of the primary laws against terrorism yet produced in either jurisdiction.”
Clive Walker, Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds

“A dazzlingly, comprehensive and penetrating diagnosis of how Western governments too often react to terrorism by promoting executive power in reckless disregard of the fundamental principles of liberty on which their legitimacy rests. Many authors decry this phenomenon, but this book is unique in its parallel treatment of the United States and British developments, its especially clear treatment of the daunting subject of ‘financial counterterrorism,’ and in its deployment of both the grand narrative skill of a historian and the unyielding analytic rigor of a lawyer. In its elegant synthesis of materials ranging from treaties to judicial decisions to legislation to administrative protocols, this book is at once an impressive intellectual achievement and an alarming admonition.”
Robert Weisberg, Edwin E. Huddleson, Jr. Professor of Law and Director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, Stanford University

“...Laura Donohue's The Cost of Counterterrorism...demonstrate[s] that the UK has indeed, like the US, compromised civil liberties in the name of confronting post–September 11 terrorism....Donohue argues that both countries have adopted counterproductive policies on the financing of terror, detention of suspects, intelligence-gathering, and restrictions on speech.”
David Cole, The New York Review of Books

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