Blind spot: 9/11 in criminology

Wilem de Lint

Flinders University of South Australia

This paper reports on a critical analysis of the authorities relied upon in the criminological perception of “9/11”. Involving a deliberate attack on WTC 1, 2 and 7 and the Pentagon, 9/11 is important as a case study in forensics, terrorism studies, criminalistics, crime scene investigation, homicide studies, etc., and has had a momentous impact on policing, security and intelligence studies, criminal law, surveillance and privacy studies and a host of other fields in criminology (not to mention public policy in domestic and foreign affairs). However, evaluation of the criminological scholarship (journal articles) indicates an uncritical (direct or indirect) reliance on the authority of, in particular, the U.S. government account (represented in reports of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States and supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)). Given the momentous impact of the official version of the crime and significant shortcomings in these accounts, does this reliance and lack of skepticism in criminological scholarship represent a blind spot? If so, what might this suggest of the normative dimensions of the discipline?


Willem de Lint is a professor in the Flinders Law School and has written on terrorism, policing and security and surveillance.


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