In the two decades since the 9/11 attacks, national security law has moved from the fringes of law school curricula to a privileged position in the legal academy that has helped obscure the profoundly anti-democratic nature of the national security project itself.
These lectures will highlight the myriad ways in which national security law has weakened democratic accountability: by deeming critical questions about the limits of executive power “nonjusticiable”; by deploying secrecy doctrines to ensure the impunity of senior officials; by excluding the public from vital debates and decisions affecting core liberties; by subordinating independent judicial review to the putative “expertise” of national security officials; and by engaging in hyperbolic risk inflation to secure broad compliance with the above.
The lectures will address these themes through the lens of litigation brought by the author and others in the years following 9/11. They will argue that if the core tenets of national security law are not more effectively challenged, we risk enshrining a state of permanent constitutional exception.
Lecture 1: Anatomy of a National Security Lawsuit
An unremarkable Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking the release of a few dozen pages of records from the Guantanamo Bay prison illuminates some of the major themes of national security law: wildly inflated claims of harm; demands for judicial deference to the “expertise” of Executive Branch lawbreakers; and the use of secrecy as a proxy for impunity.