"Taking Liberties" w/ author Susan Herman, president of the ACLU

Date(s) - Thursday 10/13/2011 - 10/14/2011
11:00 pm - 1:00 am

Author Susan HermanOctober 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the Patriot Act. In the days following 9/11, fear and shock dominated the public and domestic security issues rose to the top of our agenda. The state of emergency that began during the Bush administration has continued into the Obama administration. But how many of actions taken to keep Americans safe are effective and worthwhile? Are we, as Americans, giving up too much to employ many of the antiterrorism tactics in use?

In TAKING LIBERTIES: The War on Terror and the Erosion of Democracy author Susan Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, examines the human and social costs of the War on Terror. “This book is about us and it is about now,” Herman writes, “A decade is long enough time to allow us to step back and try to look at the whole picture of the costs and benefits of strategies that were forged during the panicky days right after 9/11.” Should we be willing to tolerate the current level of surveillance, intrusion, and potential error because these efforts are helping to keep us safe?

TAKING LIBERTIES features numerous stories of ordinary people caught in the government’s surveillance dragnet. From the Oregon lawyer falsely suspected of involvement with terrorism in Spain to the former University of Idaho football player arrested on the pretext that he was needed as a “material witness” (though he was never called to testify), this book is filled with unsettling stories of ordinary people caught in the government’s dragnet. These are not just isolated mistakes in an otherwise sound program, but demonstrations of what can happen when our constitutional protections against government abuse are abandoned.

TAKING LIBERTIES challenges the belief that we can buy security by squandering our liberty. “During most of the War on Terror decade, Congress has remained passive, letting the President make too many key decisions unilaterally and allowing the executive agencies to police themselves,” Herman warns. “this is a mistake, just as the Constitution predicted.”