The Rule of Law in the Fight against Terrorism

Tiberiu Dragu, Mattias Polborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

What is the role of legal limits on executive power, if any, when citizens demand more security from terrorism, and allowing executive officials legal flexibility of action appears necessary to achieve it? We develop a game-theoretic model to show that when the executive faces increased electoral incentives to provide security and has legal flexibility to choose any policy it finds optimal, security from terrorism can actually decrease. In contrast, when the executive faces increased electoral incentives to provide security and there is an explicit legal limit on executive counterterrorism activities, security from terrorism increases. We also show that the executive achieves the objective of terrorism prevention more effectively when there are some limitations on its counterterrorism powers. The article provides a security rationale for legal limits on executive power and has implications for understanding how to design the institutional structure of liberal governments when the social objective is terrorism prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-525
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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