Paul D. Miller on Tue, 3 Oct 2006 11:00:25 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Torture, Torture, Torture!!!

This is a cross post of an mini essay by Naeem Mohaiemen.

read on!

State Of Exception, After The Torture Vote
- Naeem Mohaiemen

About culture's re-engagement with the war on something, Martin Amis 
recently said:
"As Norman Mailer said when 9/11 happened, the temptation to charge 
in should be resisted because what happens with writing is that you 
receive the stimuli and they go down into your subconscious, and what 
settles settles, and what doesn't doesn't. You find, after a couple 
of years, that you've got something to write about. It's part of your 
silent anxiety about what Don DeLillo calls the world hum."

The world hum right now is last week's stunning vote to authorize new 
powers to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions on torture.  Aziz Huq of 
NYU Brennan Center (and Visible Collective) calls it "a bill that 
strikes harder at American liberties and at the fundamentals of 
American government than any since the authorization of the Japanese 

Even the NYT was moved to apoplexy:
"[The new law] allows the president to identify enemies, imprison 
them indefinitely and interrogate them - albeit with a ban on the 
harshest treatment - beyond the reach of the full court reviews 
traditionally afforded criminal defendants and ordinary prisoners. 
Taken as a whole, the law will give the president more power over 
terrorism suspects than he had before the Supreme Court decision this 
summer in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that undercut more than four years of 
White House policy."

We are now in that space that Francois Saint Bonnet called the space 
of "imbalance between public law and political fact." Looking at the 
proposal for a suspension of the French constitution, Giorgio Agamben 
traces two models - one where wartime powers spread into civilian 
space, the other wherein individual liberties are suspended from the 
constitution. The merging of these two trajectories produces the 
state of exception.

The argument that a sitting President of the United States has the 
power, unique among all signatories to the Geneva Conventions, to 
reinterpret what constitutes torture, is a full-force realization of 
a state of exception. It can also take on the contours of notstand 
("state of necessity"), state of siege, or emergency powers. But not 
yet that trigger-term: martial law (that's for Thailand, so the 
yammering classes can breathe a sigh of relief).

How will the citizens of this nation respond? Voting for Democrats at 
midterms is one very micro (but tangible) baby step. But more 
systematic, wide-ranging meditations on the changing nature of the 
soul of continental United States are needed.

Protest action is mounting after last week's vote. Some of it is 
incandescent with purpose.

Organized groups are doing a lot more than just writing. Artists, 
activists, lawyers, clergy, labor, academics, and many other levels 
of society are mobilizing for this week's nationwide protests to 
"Drive Out The Bush Regime."

Two key events:
October 2: Mobilizing Meetings
October 5: National Protests
[details below]

Is this wishful thinking, visual resistance, building capacity, 
symbolic theater, or all of the above? Only way to find out is to 
attend the meetings and rallies, starting with tonight.

In a word: participate

No time for armchair analysts.


October 5: Drive Out Bush Regime

Aziz Huq on Military Commissions Act of 2006

Aziz Huq on Terror 2016

Ariel Dorfman on Torture

Torture Not An American Value

This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like

How Would A Patriot Act?

Comfortably Numb

Banned On Airplanes: Craig Murray's New Book,,1867840,00.html


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