Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2002


This paper will start with a brief discussion of the terrorism threat because the threat remains predicate for any serious discussion of where we draw our legal lines. I will then suggest a legal model for looking at questions of homeland security called ordered liberty. The model is simple. First, given the nature of the threat, the executive must have broad and flexible authority to detect and respond to terrorism-–to provide for our physical security. Second, the sine qua non for such authority is meaningful oversight. Oversight means the considered application of constitutional structure, executive process, legal substance, and relevant review to decision-making–-all of which depend on the integrity and judgment of government lawyers.

Meaningful oversight protects our way of life. It also protects our security by helping decision-makers get it right on the front end of a decision, rather than investigating on the back end. This model does not detail whether civil service rules should apply to the Homeland Security Department, or whether military commissions are a good idea. The paper will suggest some principles and lessons learned that can be applied to such questions. In the process, two false dichotomies will hopefully be debunked: first, that security and liberty conflict; and, second that oversight and security conflict.

Publication Citation

Pub. Law., Winter 10, 2002, at 2-11