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Leary Lecture: Aberrations No More, 2010 Utah Law Review 1085 (2010)


September 11, 2001 marked the beginning of a new era in American law.

Combating terrorism became a matter of great public urgency and as part of that

endeavor policies have been pursued that compromise once sacred principles of the

Constitution. These policies were initiated by President George W. Bush, but with

some exceptions, other branches of government soon endorsed them, and

remarkably, they are now being continued by President Barack Obama.

Although terrorism did not begin on 9/11, the attacks on that day were

distinguished by the magnitude of the death and destruction that they caused.

Those attacks also had the threatening quality of a foreign invasion. Important sites

in the United States-the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and if the

terrorists had their way, the Capitol and White House would have been added to

the list)-were struck by foreign nationals acting on directions from abroad.

Moreover, the events of 9/11 became a public spectacle. Scenes of airplanes

crashing into the World Trade Center and the collapse of the towers were caught

on video and frequently replayed in later years. The messages conveyed and the

fears aroused by these images were further reinforced in the decade that followed

by bombings in London, Madrid, Amman, Mumbai, and Bali; attempts to blow up

two airplanes on their way to the United States; and the failed plot to detonate a car

full of explosives in Times Square. As a result, starting on September 11, 2001,

and continuing to this day, terrorism acquired an immediacy and reality for

Americans that it never had before.

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