Ethnicity and Security: The Wen Ho Lee Case

Science & Justice Working Group Meeting with Jeffrey Bussolini (CUNY)

The treatment and legal case of Taiwanese-American physicist Wen Ho Lee is a remarkably instructive account of the troublesome intersecting dynamics of ethnicity and security in US national security institutions on the eve of the September 11th transformations. Perhaps most shocking is that some of the same techniques that became notorious after 9/11 (sensory deprivation, techniques of humiliation through shackling and temperature control) were previewed in Lee's treatment. In this respect, and in the mechanics of the case itself which are still poorly understood, the Lee case serves as an invaluable instance of what Foucault would call "the history of the present" in which the techniques of the post-9/11 security state were not simply created out of whole cloth, but were the amplifications of practices that had already been developed within US security and justice systems.

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