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Crimes of Power & States of Impunity

The U.S. Response to Terror

Michael Welch

Publication Year: 2009

Since 9/11, a new configuration of power situated at the core of the executive branch of the U.S. government has taken hold. In Crimes of Power & States of Impunity, Michael Welch takes a close look at the key historical, political, and economic forces shaping the country’s response to terror.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Critical Issues in Crime and Society


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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Several years into a post–9/11 world, conflict, domination, and wars persist but what is new is that many of those human rights abuses are carried out in the name of preserving national security. The war on terror—the United State’s prevailing response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—has gained considerable momentum. In many ways, it appears that we are witnessing a new configuration of power. ...

Part I: Presenting History

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Chapter 1: A Post–9/11 World

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pp. 3-14

What has happened during the past seven years in response to the attacks on September 11 that killed nearly 3,000 victims? Here is a capsule: ...

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Chapter 2: A New Configuration of Power

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pp. 15-30

In response to the attacks on September 11, the U.S. government has embarked on a campaign that significantly redrafts the legal landscape, prompting political commentators to take notice. In an editorial titled “Mr. Cheney’s Imperial Presidency,” the New York Times chronicles chief developments over the past few years: ...

Part II: Prime Targeting

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Chapter 3: Unlawful Enemy Combatants

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pp. 33-46

The legal battles over how the Bush administration defines and applies the unlawful enemy combatant designation continue to unfold in the U.S. courts. In late 2004, federal judge Joyce Hens Green was still interested in scanning the limits of presidential power to detain enemy combatants and whether the White House satisfied the requirement laid out in the June (2004) U.S. Supreme Court decision to provide a justification for their detention acceptable to federal courts. ...

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Chapter 4: Guant

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pp. 47-74

As he was being reassigned from the detention center at Guantánamo Bay (GITMO in Pentagon parlance), the former warden Mike Bumgarner was blamed for the suicides resulting from his attempted institutional reforms that loosened the restrictions on prisoners. He reflected on this tour of duty:“We tried to improve their lives to the extent that we can—to the point that we may have gone overboard, not recognizing the real nature of who we’re dealing with,” he said. ...

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Chapter 5: Torture

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pp. 75-92

Amid reports that mental health specialists were involved in prisoner abuse scandals at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the American Psychological Association in 2007 scrapped a measure that would have banned members from assisting interrogators at Guantánamo Bay and other U.S. military detention centers. The APA’s policy-making council voted against a proposal to prohibit its psychologists from taking part in any interrogations at U.S. military prisons ...

Part III: Expanding Range

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Chapter 6: Ordering Iraq

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pp. 95-112

In Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (2006) Rajiv Chandrasekaran provides an in-depth tour of the American reconstruction and those in charge.To ensure the “right” personnel were selected for the job, close scrutiny over their political lives remained a top priority, particularly with respect to party loyalty. Chandrasekaran reports that commitment to the Bush team and Republican Party political agenda— including their views on Roe v. Wade ...

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Chapter 7: Collateral Damage

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pp. 113-132

As the insurgency in Iraq escalates, so does has the U.S. military’s response, perpetuating a cycle of violence that envelopes not only combatants but also civilians caught in the middle. In one of the many battles over Fallujah, there remain questions concerning the U.S. bombing of the Central Health Center on November 9, 2004.Whereas the U.S. military has dismissed accounts of the health center bombing as unsubstantiated, ...

Part IV: Lasting Legacies

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Chapter 8: Governing through Terror

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pp. 135-156

In 2007, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) issued a worrisome report that the United States will face “a persistent and evolving terrorist threat” over the next three years, as Al-Qaeda continues to plan attacks comparable in scale to those of September 11, 2001.1 In its forecast, the panel of government experts assess ...

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Chapter 9: States of Impunity

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pp. 157-178

President Bush in 2007 approved plans to allow the CIA to resume its use of harsh interrogation methods for questioning terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas.The new authorization permits that agency to move forward with a program that had been in limbo since the Supreme Court ruled that all prisoners in American captivity be treated in accordance with Geneva Convention prohibitions against humiliating and degrading treatment. ...

Appendix: Violations of International and U.S. Laws

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pp. 179-180


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pp. 181-192


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pp. 193-194


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pp. 195-220


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pp. 221-224

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About the Author

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pp. 225-226

Michael Welch is a professor in the Criminal Justice program at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey (USA). He received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Texas and his research interests include punishment, human rights, and social control. His key writings have appeared in Punishment & Society, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813546506
E-ISBN-10: 0813546508
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813544342
Print-ISBN-10: 0813544343

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Critical Issues in Crime and Society
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Raymond J. Michalowski See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 318240473
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Crimes of Power & States of Impunity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Subversive activities -- United States.
  • National security -- United States
  • Terrorism -- Government policy -- United States.
  • Intelligence service -- United States.
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