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Terrorism and Democracy  

Terrorism and Democracy

Kim Lane Scheppele, Professor of Law and Sociology, introduced the course “Terrorism and Democracy” during the Spring 2002 term. From the syllabus:

In this course, we will examine terrorism (under multiple definitions) and state responses to it, focusing particularly on the challenges that terrorism poses for democratic governments and for those who reside in democracies under threat. The first part of the course will focus on terrorist groups – their internal logics and tactics, their variety and commonalities, the ways that democratic governments have coped with them in the past. The second part of the course will focus on the legal responses that are under consideration in the contemporary United States and elsewhere as a result of the specific threats made more compelling on 11 September. As we consider these possible responses and their legal warrants, we will ask how democratic governments should assess the trade-off between security and liberty and between repression and openness. Faced with a set of bad choices, how should democratic governments cope with terrorism? This term, we will consider these questions. We may not all agree on the answers, but together we should be able to sharpen our senses of what is at stake.

Students were assigned three recently published books about terrorism and numerous readings to inform their studies. They were each required to present two papers to the class. The first considered a particular terrorist group or terroristrelated incident from what was known about the group or incident, and then the government’s response. Recommended topics among dozens suggested included the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon; the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland; the Weathermen; the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks in Japan; and the Aldo Moro kidnapping and the Red Brigades in Italy. The second paper students wrote was a legal memo on a particular issue arising under American law as a result of September 11th, from racial profiling to seizure of financial assets to attorney-client privilege to the writ of habeas corpus to wiretapping under the USA PATRIOT Act.