The War on Terror has resulted in a significant prioritization of Executive power in order to combat terrorism domestically and abroad. This study takes as its central dilemma how that uptick in policies to ensure national security from the threat of terrorism affects civil liberties. In the age of American counterterrorism, there are several examples of how civil liberties are negatively affected by the establishment or expansion of counterterrorism policies. Research into this sector of American politics shows that war is a catalyst that brings on changes to both Executive authority and civil liberties. In this study, I assess specific legislations to analyze how the Executive was granted more power and how those pieces of legislations changed how America protects civil liberties. Then, I analyze what the consequences of those policies were by examining how they intersected with specific civil liberties enumerated in the US Constitution. I find that Executive power increases during war in an effort to ensure national security, and this trades off with the protection of civil liberties.


Weber, Désirée


Political Science


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Law and Politics | Legislation | President/Executive Department


Executive power, civil liberties, national security, detention, surveillance, military commissions, Guantanamo Bay

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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