"America First" and Civil Liberties Last?: Implications of the Trump Administration's Approach to National Security

June 10, 2017

The Trump Administration has signaled a national security philosophy that is in turns interventionist and isolationist. On the one hand, it has committed to reinvigorating the “War on Terror,” leading to the potential for increased military adventurism in the Middle East, extrajudicial killings, unwarranted detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, excessive use of government surveillance and religious and ethnic profiling. On the other hand, it has downplayed Russian interference with U.S. elections, declined to criticize authoritarian regimes and sown doubt about the United States’ commitment to NATO. At times, this has placed the administration at odds with the intelligence community and Congress. Can we make sense of these seemingly opposing philosophies? What are the threats each pose to civil liberties and constitutional rights? And what are the most effective strategies for combatting those threats through both litigation and public advocacy?