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Transactions after 9/11: the banal face of the preemptive strike

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This paper argues that the deployment of transactions data of many kinds has become the banal face of the war on terror's preemptive strike. Because the failure to predict and prevent 9/11 is partly thought to be a failure to ‘connect the dots’ of available intelligence, post 9/11 policies seek to register, mine and connect ever more ‘dots’, or association rules, in the form of credit card transactions, travel data, supermarket purchases and so on. We argue that it is in these ordinary transactions that another spatiality of exception is emerging, one in which the traces of habits, behaviours and past practices become the basis of security decisions to freeze assets, to apprehend, to stop and search or to deport. As such, these developments constitute a relatively unacknowledged violence in the war on terror, which is in need of critical questioning.

Keywords: political geography; pre-emption; privacy; surveillance; transactions; war on terror

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, Email: 2: Department of European Studies, University of Amsterdam, 1012VB Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: April 1, 2008


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