Improving National Security Under Law

The Program - Managing Terrorism's Consequences

The danger of terrorism demands new initiatives to prevent it or respond if prevention fails. Billions of dollars are budgeted to combat terrorism, and the topic dominates the attention of everyone in a position of responsibility. Of particular importance is how legal authorities can support necessary anti-terrorism activities without unduly compromising the freedoms that are at the heart of American democracy. Terrorism planners have long been concerned that American laws relevant to managing the consequences of terrorism are confused or contradictory or gap-ridden. By and large, that concern is unfounded. Indeed, the deeper one delves into these issues, the more impressive is the law's texture and nuance, enabling responses that are respectful of myriad policy agendas. The bad news is not the law's condition - the bad news is that there is no systematic treatment of terrorism consequence issues that can serve as a guide emergency planners and responders.

It was the realization of a need for a legal guide or manual that led the National Commission on Terrorism to recommend:

  • The President should direct the preparation of a manual on the implementation of existing legal authority necessary to address effectively a catastrophic terrorist threat or attack. The manual should be distributed to the appropriate federal, state, and local officials and be used in training, exercises, and educational programs.
  • The President should determine whether any additional legal authority is needed to deal with catastrophic terrorism and make recommendations to Congress if necessary.

The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) responded to this recommendation by commissioning Professor Kellman and the IWCC to prepare such a manual. The resulting product, Managing Terrorism's Consequences - Legal Issues, by Professor Kellman is designed to assist policy makers in understanding how federal and state law affects their planning and implementation.

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