The torture warrants debate leaves out the details about the people actually detained after 9/11



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The torture warrants debate leaves out the details about the people actually detained after 9/11

  • The torture warrants debate leaves out the details about the people actually detained after 9/11

Khalid el-masri

  • Khalid el-masri
  • German Citizen
  • Born in Kuwait but married a German woman
  • Handed over to the CIA and, according to a lawsuit, tortured in Afghanistan.
  • Khalid Al-masri
  • The name of a person alleged to have made contact in Germany with the 9/11 hijackers
  • No relation to El-Masri

The years after 9/11

  • The years after 9/11
  • Enemy Combatants (not prisoners of war,
  • do not have legal protections)
  • Operatives working for Al Qaeda, Taliban
  • Islamic (and more generally Middle Eastern)
  • Names someone or something (a force) against
  • the United States
  • Figure of evil
  • Fighter with access to arms, including nuclear,
  • and “weapons of mass destruction”
  • Anti-democratic
  • Isolates actions from other acts of violence
  • (e.g. mass murderers)
  • Relies on various oppositions:
  • West vs. East
  • Christian vs. Islam
  • US vs. terrorists (enemies)
  • "Either you are with us, or you are with
  • the terrorists.” George W. Bush, 9/20/01

State of the Union Speech January 28, 2003

  • State of the Union Speech January 28, 2003

Transcript

  • Transcript
  • http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html
  • Youtube video
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgwqCdv3YQo
  • (Part 6, :30 – 2:40)
  • Evidence from intelligence sources, secret
  • communications, and statements by people
  • now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein
  • aids and protects terrorists, including members
  • of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints,
  • he could provide one of his hidden weapons
  • to terrorists, or help them develop their own.
  • -----------------------------------------------------------
  • But chemical agents, lethal viruses and
  • shadowy terrorist networks are not easily
  • contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with
  • other weapons and other plans -- this time
  • armed by Saddam Hussein.

Professor of literature at Columbia University

  • Professor of literature at Columbia University
  • Major influence in literary studies and postcolonialism
  • Culture and Imperialism (1993)
  • Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (2000)
  • Public intellectual and supporter of Palestinian statehood
  • The Question of Palestine (1979)
  • Covering Islam (1981)
  • “Islam’s role in hijackings and terrorism, descriptions of the way in which overtly Muslim countries like Iran threaten ‘us’ and our way of life, and speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings, sabotage commercial airliners, and poison water supplies seem to play increasingly on Western consciousness.” Said, 1993

Said’s work crossed various disciplines and fields

  • Said’s work crossed various disciplines and fields
  • Women’s Studies
  • Ecology (biology, earth science, society)
  • Area Studies (Latin American, “Orient”)
  • Ethnic Studies (African American, etc.)
  • National Studies (American Studies - US)
  • Academic and general
  • Opposition between Orient and Occident
  • Opposition is “man-made”
  • Not a set of “lies” but a way of thinking
  • A cultural and political fact
  • Creates a relationship of power
  • Situates the Occident as superior
  • “Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient – dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.” (3)
  • West as modern, rational, democratic, and ultimately superior
  • Orient as exotic and exaggerated (camels, belly dancers, sheiks, desert)
  • Assumes an essential difference
  • “Strategic Location” – author’s position or starting point (20)
  • “Orientalism is premised on exteriority” to what is described
  • Not a question of accuracy but rather an emphasis on representation (style, figures of speech, setting, narrative devices, etc) (21)
  • Does not address what is actually there. The people? What do they say?
  • Presents information as monolithic. What about specifics/breaks?
  • The field of Orientalist studies was more varied than Said’s argument.
  • Does not distinguish between academic work and popular culture.
  • How do the types of perspectives that Said associates with Orientalism become intertwined with US racial visions and racism, particularly in the wake of 9/11 and the Bush Administration’s arguments about terrorism?

How does terrorism fit into US racial thinking?

  • How does terrorism fit into US racial thinking?
  • Historical opposition between white/black
  • Historical opposition between white/other
  • (including Asian, Mexican Am, etc.)
  • 21st Century growing acceptance of a
  • national multi-racial society.
  • Where does the terrorist figure fit in?
  • Race not biological, not essential
  • Racial constructions as appearing in history
  • (historically contingent)
  • Shifting meaning and codes (race changes)
  • Role of the contemporary global context?

The Case of Jose Padilla

  • The Case of Jose Padilla
  • US citizen born in
  • Brooklyn
  • Abdullah al-Muhajir
  • Arrested in 2002
  • Held for 3+ years without
  • charges
  • Enemy combatant
  • Was tortured

Where does the United States hold terrorists?

  • Where does the United States hold terrorists?


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