More recently, the Obama Adminstration has taken a clearly ambivalent position with respect to the issues of soveignty, law, and territory at the heart of debates about dention and rendition. **
In early 2011, Egypt exploded in public protests that ultimately forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign. In general protesters agitated for democratic reforms: free elections, the lifting of the three-decade-old emergency order that stifled political activity and public expression, and the opening up of state-controlled media. But they also protested against the state security apparatus at the center of this repression. Indeed, the protests began quite strategically on the annual Police Day holiday. Some two weeks after Mubarak's resignation, as the world's attention shifted elsewhere, a curius event happened: word spread in Cairo that security officials at the ** Prison in Nasr City were shredding documents. Concerned that they were attempting to erase evidence of decades of brutal human rights abuses, activists stormed the security building and managed to preserve at least some of the remaining documents.
** Prison is significant not only because it was the site for quite local abuses of political prisoners, but also because it was a key destination for people picked up in distant locations, and rendered to Egypt. When CIA agents picked up ** off the streets of Milan, for example, his destination was this prison. As I write this, the outcome of this event is unclear. As of yet, for example, I am unaware any documents relating directly to Egypt's role in extraordinary rendition. Yet the very fact of this event does show the degree to which the practices of extradordinary rendtion depend on a localized geography of secrecy embedded in a geography of everyday life. Whether the secret prisons in Egypt, or the use of civilian aircraft and airports, **