The Snowden files are recessive objects: things that promise to extend our knowability but, in doing so, catalyze speculation and doubt. Drawing on media phenomenology, this chapter connects this recessivity to the surveillance systems themselves and the war on terror. The effort to predict the “lone wolf” terrorist, from the Boston bomber to the Las Vegas shooter, paradoxically becomes a site for smuggling in old racial prejudices about the monstrous Other. The convenient myth of “pure” data here encounters the far older and troubling project of national, territorial, and racial purity.
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