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When Governments Break the LawThe Rule of Law and the Prosecution of the Bush Administration$
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Austin Sarat and Nasser Hussain

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814741399

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814741399.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Responding to Government Lawlessness: What Does the Rule of Law Require?

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
When Governments Break the Law
Author(s):

Nasser Hussain

Austin Sarat

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814741399.003.0001

This book examines the contemporary debate over whether senior Bush administration officials should be investigated and prosecuted for authorizing domestic surveillance and the use of torture against “enemy combatants” during the war on terrorism. More specifically, it considers what the commitment to a rule of law demands when governments break the law, focusing in particular on the procedural, legal, political, and cultural issues of what it would mean either to pursue criminal prosecutions or to refuse to do so. The question, it argues, is not whether officials could be prosecuted but whether they should be prosecuted. In this introduction, the principal charges against the Bush administration and the factors that illuminate the question of how we should respond when governments break the law are discussed, along with the meaning of a rule of law, the role of emergency, the relation of a rule of law to international law, and the lessons of transitional justice.

Keywords:   rule of law, Bush administration, torture, war on terrorism, criminal prosecution, emergency, international law, transitional justice

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