For most people, 9/11 started a war on terrorism. This is unfortunate as terrorism is a tactic for conducting war, not an enemy to be attacked. In my view, the message of 9/11 is that in this age of technology we are all vulnerable to any wacko group or individual. Even a single individual could assemble a dirty bomb, perhaps even a primitive nuclear device.
Let’s review what happened on 9/11. Four planes were hijacked. Two of them brought down the twin towers in New York, and one struck the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. The fourth plane did not reach its intended target, because by that time passengers revolted because they knew if they did not try, their fate was certain death. Actually, from this point forward, it was highly unlikely that a hijacking would be successful, even if one were attempted. Nevertheless a fortune is being spent on airport security when there are many, many points of vulnerability remaining. To name just two, our ports and our malls.
After the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid failed to blow up a commercial airline in flight, all airline passengers departing an airport in the United States were made to walk through security checks in socks or bare feet while our shoes were scanned for bombs. After British police foiled a plot to detonate liquid explosives on board airlines in 2006, passengers at UK airport were not allowed to take liquids on board. When a passenger tried to set off plastic explosives sewn to his underwear, the US government announced plans to spend about$1 billion on full-body scanners and other security technology such as bomb detectors. The security expert Bruce Schneier has dubbed many of these measures “security theater” on the grounds that they serve merely to create the impression that the authorities are doing something, but do nothing to reduce the actual risk of terrorist attack. Instead, it was intelligence tip-offs, not airport checkpoints, that have foiled the vast majority of attempted attacks. We really cannot know of all of the intelligence tip-offs that have precluded these tragedies as acknowledging them risks compromising ways and means that might preclude future tip-offs.
I would argue that the real war on wackos began on April 19, 1995, when Timothy McVeigh detonated a bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This also calls attentions that our enemies are not necessarily foreign. There are the recent bombings that took place at the Boston, Marathon. Although the perpetrators were radical Islamists, no evidence has been linked to foreigners supporting them. If you are skeptical that there are not abundant wackos within the United States that are potential sources of danger go to http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map
The recent disclosure by the macro leaker Snowden, and he is most definitely a leaker and not a whistle blower, have called into question U.S. Policy on what is called domestic spying. My concern is not that there is too much, but rather that there is too little of this so-called domestic spying. My concern is based on the abundant supply of domestic wackos.
I definitely think that the protection of civil rights and personal privacy is important. But I think that the laws should be on how this information is used, not collected. If the information is used to embarrass someone, or is used in any unauthorized manner with the exception of planning or executing criminal or terrorist acts, severe penalties should be enforced. Otherwise the law protects criminals and terrorists. Under current laws, criminals and terrorists can be set free on the basis of legal technicalities. I can also envision a so-called terrorist attack being executed while the permission to conduct surveillance was under review. I am concerned about my personal security, but my primary concerns are with criminal hackers and businesses, not the government. At some point, one needs to have faith in one’s government. It is not difficult to find countries whose written laws and policies are not followed. Laws can be set up and not followed by an unethical government.
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