• Rationale Thought on (In)Security

    April 5, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    TomDispatch offers a head-smacking piece on how far we have slid down that slippery slope into becoming just another crappy security state:

    Sometimes a little distance is all it takes. I left town — and the country — for nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth. While I was gone, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr., okayed new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center, a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism — about you and me, that is — for up to five years.

    Joseph K., that icon of single-lettered anonymity from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, would undoubtedly have felt right at home in Clapper’s Washington… For most Americans, though, it was just life as we’ve known it since September 11, 2001, since we scared ourselves to death and accepted that just about anything goes, as long as it supposedly involves protecting us from terrorists.

    Read the entire article on TomDispatch now.

    On the same theme, we deviate slightly today from our usual fetid pile of snark and sarcasm to being you some rationale, intelligent commentary about the silliness of airport security screening as practiced in the US. Bruce Schneier writes:

    (The Transportation Security Administration, TSA) wants us to trust that a 400-ml bottle of liquid is dangerous, but transferring it to four 100-ml bottles magically makes it safe. They want us to trust that the butter knives given to first-class passengers are nevertheless too dangerous to be taken through a security checkpoint. They want us to trust the no-fly list: 21,000 people so dangerous they’re not allowed to fly, yet so innocent they can’t be arrested. They want us to trust that the deployment of expensive full-body scanners has nothing to do with the fact that the former secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, lobbies for one of the companies that makes them. They want us to trust that there’s a reason to confiscate a cupcake (Las Vegas), a 3-inch plastic toy gun (London Gatwick), a purse with an embroidered gun on it (Norfolk, VA), a T-shirt with a picture of a gun on it (London Heathrow) and a plastic lightsaber that’s really a flashlight with a long cone on top (Dallas/Fort Worth).


    Increased fear is the final harm, and its effects are both emotional and physical. By sowing mistrust, by stripping us of our privacy—and in many cases our dignity—by taking away our rights, by subjecting us to arbitrary and irrational rules, and by constantly reminding us that this is the only thing between us and death by the hands of terrorists, the TSA and its ilk are sowing fear. And by doing so, they are playing directly into the terrorists’ hands.


    The goal of terrorism is not to crash planes, or even to kill people; the goal of terrorism is to cause terror. Liquid bombs, PETN, planes as missiles: these are all tactics designed to cause terror by killing innocents. But terrorists can only do so much. They cannot take away our freedoms. They cannot reduce our liberties. They cannot, by themselves, cause that much terror. It’s our reaction to terrorism that determines whether or not their actions are ultimately successful. That we allow governments to do these things to us—to effectively do the terrorists’ job for them—is the greatest harm of all.


    Read the entire article online.



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