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Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings
Unformatted Document Text:  Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings What happens when legislation forwarded by the executive gets blocked by the legislature after terrorist attacks? The theory supported here holds that the executive is presented with an opportunity by the crisis created by a terrorist attack, but that he is constrained by levels of mass fear, public satisfaction ratings, and political constellations. This paper exhibits the importance of my theory by showing how it explains both situations where legislation is summarily passed after terror attacks and situations where the legislature blocks the executive after these attacks. This paper will be organized in the following manner. First, the theory will be summarized. Second, why the passage of counter-terror legislation should be expected in the UK Blair case will be examined. Third, the case of Tony Blair’s own Labor Party blocking his counter-terror legislation after the July 7, 2005 London bombings will be investigated. Fourth, the case of the Oklahoma City bombing, where the Republican Party blocked Bill Clinton’s counter- terror legislation for over a year, will be examined. The Oklahoma City case will bolster findings from the Tony Blair case. Finally, conclusions about why we see variation in the passage of civil liberty-abridging legislation, the central question of this study, will be stated. Description of Theory After a terrorist attack occurs, the government seems to convulse in a quick and forceful reaction. But the theory that is forwarded and supported here shows that the process of reaction is much more complex and that reactions vary much more greatly than public perception holds. The theory here proposed begins with the terrorist attack. 1

Authors: Rubin, Gabriel.
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Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma
City and London Bombings
What happens when legislation forwarded by the executive gets blocked by the
legislature after terrorist attacks? The theory supported here holds that the executive is
presented with an opportunity by the crisis created by a terrorist attack, but that he is
constrained by levels of mass fear, public satisfaction ratings, and political constellations.
This paper exhibits the importance of my theory by showing how it explains both
situations where legislation is summarily passed after terror attacks and situations where
the legislature blocks the executive after these attacks. This paper will be organized in
the following manner. First, the theory will be summarized. Second, why the passage of
counter-terror legislation should be expected in the UK Blair case will be examined.
Third, the case of Tony Blair’s own Labor Party blocking his counter-terror legislation
after the July 7, 2005 London bombings will be investigated. Fourth, the case of the
Oklahoma City bombing, where the Republican Party blocked Bill Clinton’s counter-
terror legislation for over a year, will be examined. The Oklahoma City case will bolster
findings from the Tony Blair case. Finally, conclusions about why we see variation in
the passage of civil liberty-abridging legislation, the central question of this study, will be
stated.
Description of Theory
After a terrorist attack occurs, the government seems to convulse in a quick and
forceful reaction. But the theory that is forwarded and supported here shows that the
process of reaction is much more complex and that reactions vary much more greatly
than public perception holds. The theory here proposed begins with the terrorist attack.
1


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