New counterterrorism systems are spreading throughout the world. Many
are based on behavior detection by skilled officers; others deploy techno-scientific
theories and soft ware-mediated environments. All of these systems raise critical
questions about scientific and legal evidence; profiling, costs, and effectiveness.
However, much of the recent scholarship on this topic is based on secondhand
information and fails to attend to key transformations in security discourses and in
practice. Rather than offering just an overview and theoretical critique, this article
draws from our ethnographic data on counterterrorism in the UK (with reference
to the broader global securityscape) and examines the phantasmagoria of fears
and threats, the experimentations, myriad “expert” theories, and productivity in
this realm. In doing so, the article examines how, beyond utilitarian notions of
efficiency and security, counterterrorism practices perform multiple cultural roles
for those charged with its delivery. We discuss particular examples of counterterrorism
deployments and explore the production of theories about the human in
security discourses and practices.