The State Of Exception In The United States

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The United States is in a perpetual state of national emergency. A state of emergency, is a situation of national danger or disaster, in which a government suspends normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terror attacks, Congress adopted a resolution on September 14, 2001, stipulating: “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” The broad interpretation of the law by the executive branch has provided it with unlimited authority to act not only against those responsible for 9/11, but any…show more content…
In Giorgio Agamben's view, “The state of exception constitutes a point of imbalance between public law and political fact that is situated like civil war, insurrection and resistance in an ambiguous, uncertain, borderline fringe, at the intersection of the legal and the political.” The intersection of the legal and the political, is because the state of exception is at the same time situated outside of the law (legge) and inherent to the juridical order (diretto). Initially the state of exception is justified in the name of political uncertainty and exceptional emergency. Yet, in the name of protecting the system, exception has become a lasting paradigm for government, even in “democratic” systems. Attempts in justifying exception, generally revolve around the ideas urgency and of necessity. Essentially, the state of exception depends on a conception of necessity: “The concept of necessity is an entirely subjective one, relative to the aim that one wants to achieve” Thus, necessity is always subjective. As a result of necessities’ constant subjectivity, the state of exception appears as an “illegal” but perfectly “juridical and constitutional” measure. Therefore, nations utilize the ‘state of exception’ to justify bypassing a juridical order, which requires due process, in cases characterized by extreme necessity such as the threat of civil war, revolution, foreign invasion,…show more content…
The key of Agamben's idea, around which the hypothesis of the state of exception relies on, is the political indistinction, of the external and the internal, the private life, which he calls zoe, and the public sphere, characterized as bios. Essentially, the sovereign power needs to obscure the lines between internalities and externalities, so as legitimize its always developing control over the lives of its people. As a result of obscuring legal and political fact, a indistinct type of individual is made in this procedure, called homo sacer. The homo sacer, is a person diminished to what Agamben characterizes as “bare life”, implying that the sovereign has complete authority over homo sacer. The sovereign controls a homo sacer not only as a citizen, but as an individual in his/her natural life, depriving this individual of the right to live. The point in time and place where individuals are stripped to a "bare life," is characterized by Agamben as the camp, a direct reference to inhumane imprisonments in Nazi Germany, where Jews were denied political rights. The camp then is a figure of the the state of exception in modernity, in which the ‘citizen’ disappears into a ‘bare life’ over whose management the state has taken over and in which the rule of law is
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