legislation has generally been narrowly drawn, and so problems outside of the specific purview of these bills have gone unaddressed.

Despite these limited attempts at bolstering the surveillance power of the government, many commentators believed that the role of the state in surveillance was weakening in the 1990s. Some went as far as to dismiss the very concept of a nation-state as an anachronism that would not survive the age of globalization. However, both arguments became moot after September 11, 2001. After the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., the Bush administration forcefully reasserted the power of the state, launching the United States on a “war against terrorism.”30 One of the major components of this war was state-sponsored surveillance.

In the days immediately after September 11, the power of rhizomic surveillance was demonstrated to the public as the actions of the terrorists before the attack were reconstructed from bank records, closed-circuit television cameras, and airport systems. In order to enhance the existing surveillance infrastructure, the President and the Congress enacted the USA Patriot Act of 2001. The act gave the government greater surveillance power over citizens of the United States in order to increase security.


David Lyon, Surveillance After September 11, Polity Press, Cambridge, Mass.; Blackwell Publishing, Malden, Mass., 2003.

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