'Taking Liberties' — New Book on What We All Lost After 9/11

September 26, 2011 12:00 am

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Susan Herman, ACLU President, is the author of Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy. In this eye-opening work, Herman takes a hard look at the human and social costs of the War on Terror. A decade after 9/11, it is far from clear that the government’s hastily adopted antiterrorist tactics — such as the Patriot Act — are keeping us safe, but it is increasingly clear that these emergency measures in fact have the potential to ravage our lives — and have already done just that to countless Americans.

For example,

  • Under the so-called “library provision” of the USA PATRIOT Act, the government can demand that custodians of records – including librarians, schools, social work institutions, and internet service providers (who, in these days of cloud computing, have access to a mind-boggling array of information about us) — turn over those records without having to explain to a court why they want those records, or whether the person who is the subject of the records has done anything suspicious.
  • Under the expanded “National Security Letter,” the FBI and other agencies can demand some records from telecommunications and financial services providers without any court order at all and then gag the recipients.
  • Patriot Act amendments let the government spy on Americans using a Cold War era statute designed for tracking the covert activities of Soviet agents.
  • More about Taking Liberties:

    “Taking Liberties offers a compelling case that the basic constitutional protections most Americans take for granted, including the rights to free speech, a fair trial and due process, as well as freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, were seriously compromised after 9/11 as a result of the government’s well-meaning but ill-conceived efforts to safeguard the country against another attack. . . [P]ersuasively fair and reasonable . . . A valuable contribution to the growing body of literature regarding the War on Terror’s impact on our constitutional rights.” — Kirkus Reviews

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