Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Following up on panopticism

The NY Times had a video on its front page Oct. 10 entitled “The FBI: Reinventing the Bureau,” in which Scott Shane reported about how the bureau has been trying to reinvent itself since 9/11. He sad that whereas the old goal of the FBI was to follow domestic ‘criminals’ and make arrests in specific cases, the new goal is much broader: not to follow crime, but to prevent terrorist activity in the U.S.

Interesting in this situation is that the new director (?) Phil Mudd, a former CIA agent, is developing a policy in the FBI called “domain management,” which involves “not just following cases but understanding everything that’s happening in your domain, in your city, what he calls, ‘the spaces between the cases,’ says Shane. This involves primarily observation and surveillance of ‘terrorist suspects’—a seeming shift from a role of prosecuting crime to one of observation, or “hierarchizing observation and normalizing judgment.”

Shane also noted that in this process the FBI has “doubled the number of analysts, doubled the number of linguists…”

Meanwhile, the SF Chronicle article from Wednesday, October 11, Self-Censorship Threatens the West looks at a series of events over the last few years in which portrayals of icons of the Muslim faith in the Western media and stage performances have incurred great wrath, prompting debate about appropriate notions of ‘freedom of expression’ and self-censorship…

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