Document Type


Publication Date



In leui of an abstract, here are the article's first two paragraphs:

In the long shadow of September 11, 2001, an enormous and sophisticated state apparatus featuring covert espionage, secret interrogations, and detentions without trials has been created for the ostensible purpose of defeating terrorism. The counterterrorist state operates with broad judicial discretion and minimal oversight or accountability. To safeguard a people’s freedom, it is said, one must occasionally limit that freedom. Benjamin Netanyahu warns that, “Making use of American freedom of speech and religion, of liberal immigration and visitation laws, and of the relative lack of surveillance which they could hardly enjoy in their own countries, [the terrorists] have turned the US into a terrorist haven in its own right” (Netanyahu, 1996:96). Many scholars of varied backgrounds have lamented the manner in which certain political forces in the US have exploited the current geopolitical mania to expand the government’s police powers and to weaken civil rights and judicial review.

Here I do not propose to rehearse those arguments. Rather, my interest is to discuss the understated (though invaluable) role of certain sociological traditions as accomplices in the development of the counterterrorist state. Specifically, I will argue that the sociological traditions of hermeneutics and phenomenology have provided the theoretical and methodological weaponry for the counterterrorist state in its efforts to curtail freedom and to classify and catalogue massive amounts of data on large cross sections of the US population who are suspected of terrorist tendencies (or sympathies).


Also available through the publisher's website:

Additional Files

Included in

Sociology Commons