... the history of civil liberties is characterized by a series of security panics. A range of mechanisms ... cause periodic panics in which aroused publics demand repressive measures to curtail the civil liberties of perceived enemies of the nation, particularly noncitizens or other outsiders. Government officials may themselves panic, or will at least supply the panicky measures that constituents demand.Vermuele argues that
Even if that model is right as far as it goes, it is fatally incomplete. My central claim is that the mechanisms underlying security panics have no necessary or inherent pro-security valence. The very same mechanisms are equally capable of producing libertarian panics: episodes in which aroused publics become irrationally convinced that justified security measures represent unjustified attempts to curtail civil liberties. I will suggest that libertarian panics have been a regular occurrence in American history, and that we may be living through one now, in the form of a widespread and thoroughly irrational, even hysterical, reaction to small legal changes adopted after 9/11.Unfortunately, his "regular occurrence in American history" is based on a too-short list of historic recapitulations and does not reach the Civil War. It's an interesting paper, nonetheless, especially if read in light of the Democratic Party's war-long critique of the Lincoln Administration.
My problem with this paper is that you do not get closer to historic truth by reversing paradigms; paradigms are inherently non-historic.
Here's the link. Hat tip to The Volokh Conspiracy via Glenn Reynolds.