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Analysis around Effectiveness of Biometric State in War on Terror

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I conclude the biometric state is playing a role in the War on Terror by exploiting the morality of the target via biometric technology governing through risk, and simultaneously converting the opportunity, to channels of survival and security. In the War on Terror, the target of opportunity is portrayed in the media as mobile targets, and in that sense, the depiction of mobile targets are operating through civil spaces of society in anticipation of a future strike. Nonetheless, to identify targets, they must be localized, named, and depicted, therefore, targeting the mobility of individuals within governable space present wide-ranging surveillance for mobile bodies.

The Highway Watch was founded in 1998 to guide truck drivers on preparing and assisting possible road accidents. I contend the Highway Watch symbolizes contemporary U.S homeland security because it serves the basis for anticipatory governance and watchful politics. Amoore defines watchful politics using the sovereign sense of sight as the main source for gathering information and thus is dominating the visual sense of the War on Terror via representations of sight and seeing. Ewald defines watchful politics as a mechanism to govern through the suspicion of potential threats. Through a mobile, the screen allows for rational, and data-led seeing that is integral to the visual sense and is thus helping to capture a moment that would typically go unnoticed. I contend visual culture embodies everyday practices of seeing and showing therefore, contemporary state sovereignty is re-articulated in such a way that is central to particular modes of visuality. The watchful politics of the War on Terror in the biometric state are using images of individuals, scenery, collections of data, and algorithms for security and social control. In this sense, the constant mode of observing is resulting in a ubiquitous border, and the role of the biometric state in the War on Terror is subject to everyday securitization.

The precautionary principle is central to watchful politics because political decisions are based on the mode of visuality that is subjugated via biometric surveillance technologies targeting the totality of the population to establish norms and detect anomalies. Homeland Security Market In direct response to the 9/11, the Bush administration established the Department Homeland Security as the predominant security apparatus to prevent terrorism in the U.S. Consequently, the state distributed billions of dollars in re-configuring American surveillance programs that offered the private sector an operational role in the War on Terror. To illustrate this, private employment in the security industry grew 1.7 times the level in the public security sector and security spending doubled from $52 billion in 1990, to $103 billion in 2002. For example, pharmaceutical companies recognized the opportunity in homeland security market, announcing to stockpile on drugs and vaccines in an effort to counter bio-terrorism, reinforcing a survivor society.

The project, BioShield, was signed by President Bush in 2004 including a series of bio-terrorism countermeasures. This legislation reinforces the logic of preemption and an inevitable future that requires additional effort beyond government agencies because this bill was put forward in advance of a potential bio-attack thus preventing a threat before it occurs. To illustrate skyrocketing security expenditures, Pennsylvania station in New York City was offered additional security measures in reconstruction; however, Senator Schemer requested for an additional $450 million, despite increased policing, K-9, vehicle barricades, and several types of bomb sensors that detect radioactive materials— are just to name a few. This represents the urgency in security after 9/11, especially the rise of biometric technology to asset the fight against terrorism. Additionally, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) emerged as a new federal branch to strengthen the security of the nation’s transportation system. This significantly widens the scope of security because rather than governing bodies at the physical border, surveillance extends to road and major commuting systems to now govern the mobility of people.

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Policy Analysis Market (PAM)

Terrorist Futures Market The DARPA-supported PAM was designed for the U.S to exercise biometric technologies, such as methods of intelligence-gathering and surveillance techniques over area the U.S lacked control over. As a result, an insider trading market was founded upon market logic that offered digital and real-time waging on the chances of a future terror attack. Considering the biometric state is not restricted to the physical boundaries of the state, power is not limited to the security apparatus, but is circular— seeking insights from the general public based on information propagated from the government. Nonetheless, PAM was immediately ceased due to public backlash on inaccurate predications, thus Net Exchange, a privatized version for DARPA emerged.

Net Exchange embraces a market system and a new tool to collect valuable information in the war against terrorism. Unlike the traditional marketplace that is fueled by rational judgement and intelligence, Net Exchange is driven by fear in the survivor society and relies on social control. Algorithms The biometric state is indicative to homeland securitization of War on Terror because biometric technology deploy algorithmic calculations that are used for encoding patterns of behaviour and identifying transgression. Algorithmic calculations for surveillance is not new, though, in the wake of 9/11 it became a technological solution and the dominate method to state security. Agglomeration is an attractive mechanism for security in neoliberal societies as it can market judgements from a distance in urban areas to generate patterns of normal and atypical consumer behaviour, that is valuable information to verify and identify bodies.

The role of the biometric state in the War on Terror is thus changing security practices, blurring the lines between military, public, and commercial domains as security practices are not exclusive to the military. Traditionally, practices of security are deployed in areas war is prevalent, however, as the biometric state is concerned about mobility of individuals, biometric technology is accepted as a mechanism for surveillance and has the ability to target urban spaces as site of war. Bigo reinforces this as “everyday securitization from the enemy within” because urban spaces are rearranging into the “battle field, social arena, and marketplace”. Katz argues this is a circular process that is domesticating terrorism, and is accepting it constitutive of society. Arguably, terrorism corresponds too, and is secured in, the performance of security in everyday environment. Nonetheless, the biometric state becomes the means of securitization in the War on Terror.

Biometric Border The US VISIT programme emerged as a new process of authorization acquiring the capacity to trace and identify any movement across the border. The biometric border is thus drawing life into the exercise of power in which Foucault termed a ‘normalizing society’ — calculating the administration of life as the central technology of power. The biometric state is thus enhancing state authority through revitalizing power within the field of governmentally. For example, Accenture exemplifies the state harnessing power of best minds in private sector to enhance security in the nation and increasing efficiency of border power via governing mobility of bodies. The founder, Eric Stange, revealed a cultural change is required in the War on Terror because biometric technology for surveillance is employed outside the reach of the state and into private firms, saturating individual’s perception and role in the War on Terror. I can conclude then, the biometric border is representing a ubiquitous frontier to the War on Terror as the supreme force to identify and track movement across the border, and is operating beyond the scope of traditional boundaries.


In conclusion, I undertook a bold approach in exploring a number of ways in which the biometric state is playing a role in the War on Terror in American society. The biometric state is emerging as a new form of authority in the United States, and is combining a panoply of surveillance technology that is not limited to the physical border, but is bleeding into social spaces and institutions that previously were not constitutive of homeland security. As a result, the biometric state is relying on biometrics to govern the mobility of bodies, thus sovereignty is extended to control the movement of people in everyday spheres of life. I have argued the Bush administration adopted governing through risk using the a precautionary principle, an approach to risk management, and in that sense, naturalized terrorism in politics as an inevitable event. Thus the effort to prevent a threat before it occurs has resulted in a survivor society— or a risk society, where the citizen is drawn into the war against terrorism by actively participating in preparing for a future attack. The biometric state is continuing to facilitate the homeland security citizen, and the homeland security market in which I provide examples to illustrate the overlapping of public and private companies in the War against Terror. It is difficult to predict the future for the biometric state, however, at the rate of technological advancement and rising rate of human error, along with increasingly complex security threats, I am not optimistic the biometric state will succeed in preventing future strikes.

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Analysis around Effectiveness of Biometric State in War on Terror. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
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