Barack Obama's War on Terror

Constitutional Commentary (2012, Forthcoming)

24 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2012

See all articles by William E. Scheuerman

William E. Scheuerman

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 25, 2012


Jack Goldsmith effectively underscores many of the policy and legal continuities between President Barack Obama's war on terror and that of his predecessor, Georg W. Bush. Offering a mostly favorable interpretation of this surprising recent development, Goldsmith argues that checks and balances have operated effectively to counter the initial excesses of the "war on terror." A far-reaching and mostly admirable process of institutional learning has occurred over the course of the last decade, resulting in what appears to be an emerging consensus about how best to combat terrorism. Unfortunately, Goldsmith's account rests on a conceptually imprecise notion of checks and balances, and it overstates the extent to which conventional institutional mechanisms have sufficiently reined in the executive. Its surprisingly -- and sometimes inappropriately -- positive assessment of the existing US constitutional system leads the author not only to downplay the more controversial facets of US counterterrorism since 9/11, but also to obfuscate some of the peculiarities of President Obama's updated version of the war on terror.

Keywords: 9/11, war on terror, counterterrorism, torture, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, presidentialism, rule of law, checks and balances, ower

JEL Classification: H56

Suggested Citation

Scheuerman, William E., Barack Obama's War on Terror (September 25, 2012). Constitutional Commentary (2012, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN:

William E. Scheuerman (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bloomington, IN
United States

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