First, let us consider the call for more CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) security cameras. Everyone seems mighty impressed with all the CCTV images coming out of
Which brings us to the Chicken Little approach of randomly searching the bags of
Nor does that even begin to consider the folly of the
Consider “domestic intelligence,” a newspeak euphemism for the dirty work that J. Edgar Hoover used to do. The problem with domestic intelligence in finding the rare would-be bomber in a vast population is not all that different from swinging a boxcar to hammer a nail. To successfully identify and arrest the last would-be bomber involves also falsely identifying, arresting, or otherwise investigating an ever larger number of false positives, to the point where a significant percentage of the total population must be considered suspects to be investigated. Are we truly ready to spy on and investigate in detail 20 million innocent Americans just to find the last 9 out of 10 would-be bombers and accept mass police files on every single citizen in this country?
What “domestic intelligence” is good for, in fact the only thing it is really useful for, is protecting those in power from those they govern. While finding the proverbial bomber needle in the haystack may require burning the haystack down in whole, domestic intelligence is very good for identifying and controlling dissenting groups and trends in the population as a whole. It’s also an excellent tool for a fascist state.
Nor does the perpetual PATRIOT Act do anything necessary to increase real security for anyone. In fact the lawful and pre-PATRIOT act tools already present were quite sufficient to assure speedy and proper procedures for investigating and preventing bombings. The PATRIOT Act does nothing to improve this, other than removing the safeguards of oversight and very basic due process, which, given the problem of false positives, is a very legitimate concern in
This brings us to the question of what methods are actually effective to protect against bombers. The first and most effective tool begins by understanding their strategy. One goal of the bomber is to drive a wedge between the population as a whole and the authority that governs them. The second is to provoke a response, even one that is deadly to their own supporters, so long as it is on a massive scale. So far, the American government has done an excellent job doing its part fulfilling the terrorists’ objectives.
The only means I see to defeating bombers and terrorists is by separating them from the population that supports their activities. This is not done by profiling the innocent or retaliating indiscriminately until the general population as a whole see us as their greater enemy, as the extremists that kill indiscriminately. It also isn’t done by invading a nation and subduing it with harsh measures.
The only way extremism can truly be defeated is by the principled execution of justice, both criminal and social, due process, and confidence building measures where the population can support those that govern them. Once the population has real reasons to trust and support those that govern them, the extremists will lose support and the freedom to operate in the communities in which they live. Only then will they be defeated.
There is a very real “clash of civilizations,” but it is not between Islam and the West. This is a clash between violent extremists who find it necessary to resort to the most terrible means possible on one side, and the forces of justice, tolerance, peace, and social progress on the other. So far, only these violent extremists, both in the
David Sugar is a founder and former Chief Technology Officer of Open Source Telecom Corporation (www.ostel.com). He is also the primary author for a number of packages that are part of the GNU project.