cover image WHY TERRORISM WORKS: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge

WHY TERRORISM WORKS: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge

Alan M. Dershowitz, . . Yale Univ., $24.95 (271pp) ISBN 978-0-300-09766-5

Against the backdrop of the U.S.-led war on terrorism, the renowned criminal defense and civil liberties attorney argues forcefully that the attacks of September 11 were largely of our own doing—the international community, Dershowitz says, repeatedly rewards terrorists with appeasement and legitimization, refusing to take the necessary steps to curtail attacks. While the broad scope of this argument is inadequately supported, as it draws evidence almost exclusively from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Dershowitz, like many others, views September 11 as a turning point and aptly advocates such measures as national identification cards, increased border security, improved coordination among federal agencies and refusal to give an ear to terrorists' demands. More controversially, he devotes a full chapter to the use of torture against terrorists to obtain information about imminent attacks. While eloquently arguing in its favor under very controlled circumstances, this frightening suggestion from a civil libertarian will be seen by many as a great leap backward for democracy and a dangerous precedent for the international community. Even with his proposed "torture warrant," there would inevitably be room for abuse, with lasting detrimental effects on both the victim as well as the U.S. justice system. Despite the "never again" hand-wringing, these penetrating arguments force readers to consider how we got to September 11, how far we are willing to pursue terrorists and how much freedom we are willing to give up for our security. (Sept. 4)

Forecast:As with last year's Supreme Injustice, Dershowitz's media ubiquity and outspoken views should result in handsome sales.