Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Redefining State Power and Individual Rights in the War on Terrorism

15 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012  

Jonathan Hafetz

Seton Hall Law School

Date Written: July 14, 2012


America’s “war on terrorism” initiated after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has served more than a rhetorical function. It reflects the U.S. government’s considered legal position that it is engaged in an armed conflict against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated groups — a conflict of unbounded territorial scope and uncertain, if not perpetual, duration. The United States’ adoption of a war paradigm as a central part of its counter-terrorism policy has had significant consequences. Among the most important has been the expansion of state power at the expense of individual liberties.

This Essay explores the impact of the war on terrorism on the detention and treatment of terrorism suspects. It first describes the shift in U.S. policy after the 9/11 attacks and the legal underpinnings of the war on terrorism. The Essay then examines how a war paradigm underlies key aspects of the United States’ approach to terrorism, including: indefinite detention; the use of military commissions in place of the regular criminal courts; and the rendition and interrogation of terrorism suspects. The Essay concludes by exploring the ways in which the war on terrorism has become institutionalized, and the consequences for the state, society, and individual rights.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Terrorism, Civil Liberties, Federal Courts, Criminal Law

Suggested Citation

Hafetz, Jonathan, Redefining State Power and Individual Rights in the War on Terrorism (July 14, 2012). Valparaiso University Law Review, Vol. 46, p. 843, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Hafetz (Contact Author)

Seton Hall Law School ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views