Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Crimes of Power & States of Impunity

Crimes of Power & States of Impunity: The U.S. Response to Terror

Michael Welch
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 256
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Crimes of Power & States of Impunity
    Book Description:

    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.

    Welch continues the work he began in Scapegoats of September 11th and argues that current U.S. policies, many enacted after the attacks, undermine basic human rights and violate domestic and international law. He recounts these offenses and analyzes the system that sanctions them, offering fresh insight into the complex relationship between power and state crime. Welch critically examines the unlawful enemy combatant designation, Guantanamo Bay, recent torture cases, and collateral damage relating to the war in Iraq. This book transcends important legal arguments as Welch strives for a broader sociological interpretation of what transpired early this century, analyzing the abuses of power that jeopardize our safety and security.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4650-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Michael Welch
  4. Part I Presenting History

    • Chapter 1 A Post–9/11 World
      (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:

      President Bush moves to suspend existing criminal law so as to process terror suspects—termed unlawful enemy combatants—by way of military tribunals rather than by criminal courts.

      A detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is opened, housing more than 400 terror suspects while others are shuttled to secret prisons run by the CIA. A select few detainees will undergo military tribunals, but most will not, and none will receive what could be characterized under...

    • Chapter 2 A New Configuration of Power
      (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,” theNew York Timeschronicles chief developments over the past few years:

      George W. Bush has quipped several times during his political career that it would be so much easier to govern in a dictatorship. Apparently, he never told his vice president that this was a joke. Virtually from the time he chose himself to be Mr. Bush’s running mate in 2000, Dick Cheney...

  5. Part II Prime Targeting

    • Chapter 3 Unlawful Enemy Combatants
      (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. In court, Green introduced a hypothetical case to Brian Boyle, a justice department lawyer: Could the president of the United States imprison “a little old lady...

    • Chapter 4 Guantánamo Bay
      (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. “I thought they had proven themselves. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I did not think that they would kill themselves” (Golden...

    • Chapter 5 Torture
      (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 “in which detainees are deprived of adequate protection of their human rights” (Associated Press 2007a, EV1). Still, the association approved a resolution that reaffirmed the association’s opposition to torture and restricted...

  6. Part III Expanding Range

    • Chapter 6 Ordering Iraq
      (pp. 95-112)

      InImperial 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 onRoe v.Wade—served as a key criterion for being hired by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) often by way of contacts in the Pentagon (e.g., James O’Bierne) and its liaisons with conservative...

    • Chapter 7 Collateral Damage
      (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, Dr. Samil al-Jumaili who was working at the center at the time of the incident said that American warplanes dropped three bombs on the clinic where approximately sixty patients were being treated,...

  7. Part IV Lasting Legacies

    • Chapter 8 Governing through Terror
      (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

      that al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the U.S. population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices,...

    • Chapter 9 States of Impunity
      (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. A new executive order signed by the President does not authorize the compete set of extreme interrogation methods used by the CIA since the program was initiated in 2002; however, the rules would...

  8. Appendix: Violations of International and U.S. Laws
    (pp. 179-180)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 181-192)
  10. Cases
    (pp. 193-194)
  11. References
    (pp. 195-220)
  12. Index
    (pp. 221-224)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-226)