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One Nation Under Siege

Congress, Terrorism, and the Fate of American Democracy

Jocelyn Evans

Publication Year: 2010

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America’s political institutions underwent radical changes as they adapted to comprehensive security reforms. While the media exhaustively covered new security protocols in the executive office, little attention was paid to other federal agencies and branches that overhauled their systems to accommodate heightened security requirements. As a congressional fellow living in Washington, D.C., Jocelyn Jones Evans was an eyewitness to the institutional culture of Capitol Hill before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as during the subsequent anthrax scare. In One Nation Under Siege: Congress, Terrorism, and the Fate of American Democracy, Evans uses her personal experiences as the foundation for a richly researched analysis of how Congress changed as an institution and a national symbol in the wake of 9/11. Evans reveals not only physical transformations but also internal policy shifts that threaten democracy by limiting citizens’ access to their elected leaders. The only comprehensive study of the effects of terrorism on the nation’s capital, One Nation Under Siege provides a detailed investigation of how the nation’s intricate political system adapted in times of crisis. It covers an essential chapter in the social and political history of the United States.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. iv-iv


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p. v

Figures and Tables

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pp. vi-vii


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pp. viii-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

I cannot believe this journey has come to an end. Every moment I spent working on this project was captivating and enlightening. I am so blessed to study something I enjoy and to write on subjects that continue to excite my intellectual curiosity. My life has been so full, and I owe so many...

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pp. 1-25

In the fall of 2001, two devastating but separate terrorist attacks threatened the U.S. Capitol. The first threat occurred on September 11, 2001, when a coordinated terrorist plot included a hijacked plane possibly directed at the Capitol Building. Fortunately for the institution, the passengers of Flight 93 thwarted the attack and diverted the plane from D.C. airspace. Nevertheless, this massive scheme caught the Capitol Police sorely unprepared to handle a security threat...

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1: Reconciling Security and Liberty

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pp. 26-51

While the terrorist attacks of 2001 alerted Americans to the vulnerability of our economic, political, and military institutions, these events are only the most recent in a long history of attacks on our nation’s symbols of freedom. The Capitol Building, perhaps the most recognizable symbol of modern democratic government in the world, has been the target of several of these attacks. As the above...

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2: Enunciators and BlackBerrys

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pp. 52-78

On September 11, 2001, a massive coordinated terrorist attack on the United States threatened the Capitol Complex. All federal office buildings in Washington, D.C., were evacuated; Reagan International Airport was shut down; the Pentagon was ablaze; all monuments were barricaded; and rumors of bombs at the State Department, the White House, and the Capitol proliferated. As one...

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3: Is Writing a Letter to Your Member of Congress a Thing of the Past?

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pp. 79-108

In response to the events of 2001, the Capitol Police introduced several new operational norms on the Hill. Some of the most significant changes involved congressional office communications and accessibility to constituents. For example, mail is now sent to a processing facility where it is “cleaned” or irradiated to decontaminate it. The process delays the mail, and often the chemical...

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4: Terror Wars and Turf Wars

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pp. 109-137

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the executive and legislative branches took several drastic steps to alter the structure of the federal government to provide improved administration and oversight of homeland security. In the executive branch, these steps included the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, adding a fifteenth department to the federal bureaucracy of President George W. Bush’s administration. The creation of this department led to significant...

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5: Gateway to American History or Fort Capitol?

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pp. 138-178

Donald Ritchie, associate historian of the Senate, reflected, “The Capitol was begun in 1793, when George Washington was president and laid the cornerstone, and it has never been finished.”1 While the Capitol has changed a great deal over the course of its two-hundred-year history, the greatest expansion in the history of the complex is the Capitol Visitor Center—a new subterranean facility...

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6: The Social Meaning of Congressional Change

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pp. 179-188

This book explores the impact of terror on Capitol Hill. During the fall of 2001, two separate events combined to raise awareness among decision makers concerning the need for threat assessment, heightened security, and emergency preparedness. The Capitol and its inhabitants became a target for those who would do harm to our nation. The tentacles of change introduced in the aftermath of this period reached every office, every meeting room, every corridor...

Appendix A

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p. 189

Appendix B

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pp. 190-199


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pp. 201-222


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pp. 223-239


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pp. 241-249

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813173825
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813125886

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 666433963
MUSE Marc Record: Download for One Nation Under Siege

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States. Congress -- Security measures.
  • United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.) -- Security measures.
  • United States Capitol Visitor Center (Washington, D.C.).
  • National security -- United States
  • Civil rights -- United States.
  • United States. Congress -- Constituent communication.
  • United States. Congress.
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