Catalogue 2019 - 2020

LAW 961 National Security & Gov Accountability



Course Description

This seminar considers several intertwined themes: the government's need for secrecy in counterterrorism matters and how that has been used to justify a profound lack of transparency over national security law and policy; the responses to that executive branch secrecy by Congress, the courts, and the public; and the impact of a lack of transparency and government accountability on individual rights, the rule of law, and democratic norms. The course focuses on the three post-September 11 U.S. presidential administrations, analyzing how each administration managed (or is managing) the question of government transparency with regard to national security, and then examining congressional and judicial responses with regard to the security issues at the forefront during each administration. The course also considers comparative jurisdictions that deal with similar issues of security, transparency and accountability. Finally, the course considers the specific context of personal privacy in the age of national security surveillance, and how privacy has been affected by both substantive national security policy and a lack of transparency over that policy. In contextualizing national security secrecy in the debate over personal privacy, we consider whether the usual ordering in a liberal democracy_of a government limited by law and a citizenry with the right to limit what the government does_has been distorted in ways that undermine the rule of law. This seminar has no final exam. Students will be graded on written work (including a research paper), class participation, and end-of-semester presentations.