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Authors addressing the problem of how to assess properly human rights when derogated in the face of national security claims often point out the difficulty of determining what national security means. This ambiguity presents several problems for those who monitor human rights. Wolfers has observed that when political formulas such as "national interest" or "national security" gain popularity they need to be scrutinized with particular care. They may not mean the same thing to different people. They may not have any precise meaning at all. Thus, while appearing to offer guidance and a basis for broad consensus, such formulas may be permitting everyone to label whatever policy he favors with an attractive and possibly deceptive name.

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