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Careful Thinking About Counterterrorism Policy

25 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2004  

Robert Chesney

University of Texas School of Law


Philip Heymann's most recent contribution to the post-9/11 policy debate, Terrorism, Freedom, and Security: Winning without War, endorses a nuanced approach to counterterrorism policy emphasizing the use of cost-benefit analysis with respect to both the short-term and long-term impacts of particular policy choices. Arguing from this perspective, Heymann concludes that certain aspects of current policy (particularly the use of military detention) place undue emphasis on military methods at the expense of legal, diplomatic, economic, and intelligence community alternatives.

This review essay provides an overview of Heymann's argument, locating it along the spectrum of criticisms of current counterterrorism laws and policies. Reflecting the fact that Heymann's argument critiques the emphasis on "war" in the "war on terrorism," the essay also provides a short history of the manner in which that familiar phrase has been used since at least the early 1980s as a marshaling and signaling device, usually in connection with policies that were decidedly non-military in emphasis.

Keywords: terrorism, terrorist, counterterrorism, war on terrorism, military detention

Suggested Citation

Chesney, Robert mname, Careful Thinking About Counterterrorism Policy. Journal of National Security Law and Policy, Vol. 1, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Robert Chesney (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

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