Jump to navigation
The Harbinger Theory: How the Post-9/11 Emergency Became Permanent and the Case for Reform
North American law has been transformed in ways unimaginable before 9/11. Laws now authorize and courts have condoned indefinite detention without charge on secret evidence, mass secret surveillance, and targeted killing of U.S. citizens, suggesting a shift in the cultural currency of a liberal form of legality to authoritarian legality. This book demonstrates that extreme measures have been consistently embraced in politics, scholarship, and public opinion not in terms of a general fear of the greater threat that terrorism now poses, but in a more specific belief that 9/11 was the harbinger of a new order of terror giving rise to the likelihood in the near future of an attack on the same scale as 9/11 or greater, involving thousands or more casualties and possibly weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The book surveys U.S. and Canadian counterterrorism law and policy marking the shift to authoritarian legality, and traces the role of the harbinger theory across a range of discourses — political, popular, and scholarly — to demonstrate the consistency and pervasiveness of the harbinger theory in support of extreme measures. The book also offers a unique overview of a range of skeptical evidence about the likelihood of mass terror involving nuclear, biological, and radiological weapons, as well as conventional means, arguing that a potentially more effective basis for reform advocacy is not to dismiss overstated claims of threats as implausible or psychologically grounded, but to challenge them directly through the use of contrary evidence.
Oxford University Press