Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies


Dr. Tim Blackmore

Second Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Vance


Jacques Ellul's theory of technique suggests that humankind's interaction with technology is driven by the desire to achieve absolute efficiency. This thesis uses Ellul's technique as the lens to examine the evolution in America's response to national security threats from the hearings and show triais of the Red Scare in the 1950s to the emergence of the "war on terror," including the USA PATRIOT Act and military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the attacks of September 11, 2001. In particular, the effects of technique's influence on the debate surroιmding the balance between civil liberties and national security is explored, as are the consequences of favouring specialization and empirical measurement over other types of knowledge. The paper concludes with an assessment of how an awareness of the biases and deficiencies of technique can be used to improve national security initiatives.



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