Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


After September 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress and President initiated legal changes to combat terrorism. In the late 20th century, Europe also experienced terrorist attacks on its soil and initiated legal adaptations. Europe's legal history with terrorism shows that harsh procedure-stripping rules do not stop terrorism and come at great costs in civil liberties and legal clout. More procedural safeguards would bring the U.S. legal response back in line with its traditional legal values while still providing a way to fight terrorism. This note investigates the European legal response to its terrorist attacks-measuring successes and gauging costs where possible-and evaluates the the prudence of the current U.S. legal response to terrorism in this light. It compares and contrasts the past legal reactions in Western European countries to the current legal reaction in the United States, focusing on Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorism in England, Basque terrorism in Spain, and Islamic terrorism in France.