At the Limits of the Rule of Law? Legislative Processing of Insecurity in German Counter-Terrorism since 2001

Dealing with the threat of terrorism has shaped national se­curity agendas since 9/11. German poli­tics, too, reacted to what was per­ceived as a “new di­mension” of threat. The German approach, how­ever, relies on legal mea­sures and the rule of law, defining terrorism as a form of crime which has to be dealt with in legal terms (in contrast to the US “war on terror”-approach). Conse­quently, numerous laws concern­ing counter­terrorsim have been passed on the fe­deral and state level since 2001. They cover a va­riety of legal areas, reflect a broad concept of security and have repea­tedly trans­formed the frame­work of national security. Some mecha­nisms of the rule of law have been challenged or over­whelmed by these trans­formations: Risk-manage­ment and prevent­ive measures intend­ed to enable security agen­cies to act as far ahead of the situ­ation as possible also invade areas pro­tected by the Grund­recht (funda­mental rights) and dilute basic prin­ciples such as the presump­tion of inno­cence.

In her disser­tation project, Isa­belle Stephan­blome exa­mines the legis­lative reactions to terrorism in Ger­many within the field of tension bet­ween politics, law and inse­curity. To this end, different strate­gies for controll­ing inse­curity are typolo­gised and argu­ments for their legiti­macy are ana­lysed. The em­pirical basis for this is the legis­lation of the federal govern­ment and selected Bundes­länder (states). The legal texts as well as the docu­ments of their drafting pro­cesses will be exa­mined with an inter­pretative approach in a quali­tative case study. The project is located in political science legal research and aims to contri­bute to opening up law for security studies as a state instru­ment for pro­cessing uncer­tainty.