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Physical Integrity Rights and Terrorism

  • James A. Piazza (a1) and James Igoe Walsh (a2)

Can states afford to protect human rights when facing a terrorist threat? Contemporary academic literature suggests that the answer to this question is no, concluding that states that afford their citizens basic political rights and civil liberties leave themselves more exposed to terrorist attacks (Piazza 2008; Wade and Reiter 2007; Pape 2003; Eubank and Weinberg 1994). American policymakers seem to agree. Both the Bush and Obama administrations regard the curtailment of physical integrity rights as a necessary element of effective counterterrorism policy. The Bush administration responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with policies permitting indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition, use of physically abusive interrogation practices, and increased and largely unchecked surveillance and wiretapping of suspected terrorists. Although it banned abusive interrogation and announced plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration has maintained the practice of wiretapping, reserved the option of rendition, and dramatically increased unmanned drone attacks against suspected terrorists in Pakistan, which often results in civilian casualties. Both presidents have claimed that these policies are necessary to keep Americans safe from terrorism (Hosenball 2009; “Bush Defends Policy on Terror Detainees” 2005).

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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