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National Security Secrecy
Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law

Part of ASCL Studies in Comparative Law

  • Author: Sudha Setty, Western New England University School of Law
  • Date Published: July 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107576476

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  • Excessive government secrecy in the name of counterterrorism has had a corrosive effect on democracy and the rule of law. In the United States, when controversial national security programs were run by the Bush and Obama administrations - including in areas of targeted killings, torture, extraordinary rendition, and surveillance - excessive secrecy often prevented discovery of those actions. Both administrations insisted they acted legally, but often refused to explain how they interpreted the governing law to justify their actions. They also fought to keep Congress from exercising oversight, to keep courts from questioning the legality of these programs, and to keep the public in the dark. Similar patterns have arisen in other democracies around the world. In National Security Secrecy, Sudha Setty takes a critical and comparative look at these problems and demonstrates how government transparency, privacy, and accountability should provide the basis for reform.

    • Considers national security secrecy from a comparative perspective, offering a broader perspective on an aspect of counterterrorism law and policy than most books
    • Engages the reader in analyzing the role of the public in combatting national security secrecy
    • Considers national security secrecy in both of the post-9/11 US administrations, appealing to readers looking to avoid politically motivated or partisan analyses
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'An illuminating discussion of the costs of secrecy and how Congress and the Courts have condoned such an anti-democratic state of affairs. Its attention to how European courts and institutions have more vigourously challenged governmental claims of secrecy is exceptional.' Kent Roach, Professor of Law and Chair in Law and Public Policy, University of Toronto

    'With insightful analysis, Sudha Setty demonstrates how the misuse of secrecy by governments in the United States and other countries has done serious damage to individual rights, democratic values, and the rule of law. We need to restore legislative and judicial checks on misleading executive assertions.' Louis Fisher, Scholar in Residence, The Constitution Project

    'Sudha Setty writes with remarkable dexterity about the exponential increase in the powers of the state to remain secret while enhancing national security regimes in the war against terror. Setty gives a comprehensive account of how national security secrecy is enabled legally and politically in contemporary democracies at the expense of structural accountability, rule of law and fundamental rights.' Ujjwal Kumar Singh, University of Delhi

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107576476
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    Part I. The Infrastructure of Secrecy in the United States:
    1. Executive branch secrecy
    2. Congressional complicity
    3. An overly deferential judiciary
    Part II. Comparative Perspectives on Transparency:
    4. International and supranational norms
    5. The United Kingdom
    6. India
    Part III. Societal Tolerance for National Security Secrecy:
    7. Public and political resilience
    8. Individual privacy and secrecy: a matter of contract or a human right?
    Conclusion.

  • Author

    Sudha Setty, Western New England University School of Law
    Sudha Setty teaches national security law and comparative constitutional law at Western New England University School of Law, where she has twice won teaching awards. She was a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, and has edited Constitutions, Security, and the Rule of Law (2014). Setty has also served as chair of the Comparative Law and National Security Law sections of the Association of American Law Schools.

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