Reconciling the Promises of Liberalism with Real-World Threats


A new book, Reimagining the National Security State: Liberalism on the Brink (Cambridge University Press), edited by Karen J. Greenberg, director of Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security (CNS), explores how post-9/11 U.S. government policies during the war on terror have impacted civil liberties, human rights, and the rule of law.

The book is an outgrowth of the 2018 CNS symposium on the evolution of the national security state in the early years of the 21st century. The speakers were invited to further study their respective subjects, resulting in this collection of essays.

Karen J. Greenberg, director of the Law School’s Center on
National Security

“Immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2011, the United States instituted reforms in the name of national security that altered the landscape of American democracy,” writes Greenberg in a foreword to the book. “The rule of law was bent to accommodate policies in detention, interrogation, military commissions, criminal justice, targeted killings, and more.”

Through 11 thoughtful analyses from a wide array of scholars and lawyers, Reimagining the National Security State examines how the establishment of the national security state has affected American society, governance, and the country’s commitment to liberalism. One chapter examines how the continued existence of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp has so redefined America’s identity that the current president not only defends, but advocates for, the use of torture.

Though many of the contributors paint a bleak picture, Greenberg writes that she hopes the book will incite a discussion about the conflict between the national security agenda and the tenets of American democracy. She asks readers to consider the question: “Is there a way to renew the promise of liberalism amid the realities of twenty-first-century threats?” It is a question that the book does not—and cannot—answer, but one which Americans will continue to reckon with for years to come.

On Monday, February 3, CNS will host a discussion and reception to celebrate the publication of Reimagining the National Security State. RSVP for the event here.


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