August 11, 2006
by: jovial_cynic
I have to take pause for a minute after hearing the reports about the foiled bomb plot. I had previously posted a link to a document outlining the difference between the potential terrorist threat and the fear of potential terrorist threat (indicating that US citizens have less to worry about terrorist attacks than they do lightening strikes), and while the US has not suffered any attacks since 9/11, the recent attempt to blow up airplanes with the use of combustive liquids certainly rattled me a bit.

A few notes, before I go into my rant.

There's a difference between suicide bombers who seek the destruction of America for ideological and religious reasons, and members of Hezbollah who have vowed to protect it's people by attempting to overthrow an oppressive regime. While I don't defend the tactics Hezbollah utilizes in their goals, the average Lebanese person views Hezbollah as freedom fighters, and perhaps rightly so. Many members of Hezbollah have personally suffered injustice, so their response makes sense. As I've stated before, a rebellious uprising is often a statement about the ruling class, and not about the rebellion itself.

The only folks that defend the 9/11 attackers (and now these attempted bombers) are fundamentalist religious zealots who have personally suffered nothing from America, but are so entrenched in their ideologies that they've dehumanized Americans and are willing to kill them with no real objective other than to cause civilian casualties and to destabilize the US economy. These are the "bad guys."

So... the what to do about these bad guys?

In the midst of this recent attempted attack, I am concerned that the "terror" aspect of terrorism has already occurred, making the term "terrorism" rather pointless. Calling the would-be bombers "terrorists" ignores the fact that the policies put in place by America and the UK are serving to perpetuate the very terror they decry. Banana-induced fear is the absurd conclusion of the matter, and the solution of getting passengers to dump their liquids before boarding results in the following strange scenario (explicit language at the link):

Sir, I'm going to have to take this bottle of water away from you since it might be a liquid explosive, and I'm going to have to mix it with all of these other bottles of possibly liquid explosive, and I'm going to have to dump them all in this trash can... together. Nevermind that the plot specifically mentions mixing chemicals and/or nitroglycerin... which explodes if handled too roughly.

However... I don't know the solution. If mothers are told that they're allowed to bring baby food on planes, suicide-bombers will start recruiting women with children to board planes with explosive gels in baby food jars.

And I guess that's the problem, really -- laws and policies restricting freedoms don't really stop terrorists who generally look for ways to get around those policies. Next year, people will be required to board planes naked and drugged, and terrorists will insert bombs into one orifice or another set to a timer... there's not much you can do. It's like gun control -- taking away guns from law abiding citizens doesn't do a thing to stop criminals. Tracking the purchase of Sudafed doesn't stop the production of meth. These solutions simply don't work, and yet it's the only solutions governments use... and in the end, it's average joe that suffers.

So... I'm looking for reasonable solutions. I don't know the answers, but I do know that the currently implemented procedures aren't it.
np category: politics


Luke said:
I was recently going to post a question. maybe I still will. I don't think it has so much to do with your post though so maybe I will.

I think the kneejerk response of airports was not well thought out, or anything like that hence the chaos that ensued. It does seem rather riddiculous to pour everything together and freak out.

I think that profiling is legitimate since all of our would-be bombers/terrorists/attackers/etc... are young, muslim, males. I also champion policies like the Patriot Act and the UK's version of the same which is to thank for this terror interception.

August 11, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
If I try to imagine the US government as entirely benevolent and good, I can imagine parts of the Patriot Act being reasonable. But... there are other parts of it that I think are entirely unacceptable.

Like... I'm not actually not terribly opposed to domestic wiretapping. I don't like it, but reaslitically, talking privately on the phone isn't some kind of innate right. You and I pay for a commercial service, and if a part of the service is that the telco is going to transmit phone logs to the Feds, that's that, and if I don't like it, I can stop using the phone. So that part of the Patriot Act isn't a big deal to me.

However, I don't think that the Feds should be able to arbitrarily break into a home and search it without an official warrant, nor should they be able to hold people under arrest without officially charging them and without the ability to speak to a lawyer. By allowing members of the Feds to do that, we've effectively created a thugocracy, where the abuse of power runs rampant. And I'm all about fending off abuses of power.

August 11, 2006

wonder said:
Jovial, i must disagree with your contention that talking privately on the phone is not an innate right. Do you have the right to expect your mail not to be opened and searched? postage is a paid commercial service.

If we do not have the right to communicate privately, how can we possibly expect our freedom to speak publicly to be protected?

August 15, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
If I'm paying somebody to deliver mail or transmit a call, or send an email, I'm using their system. If they openly state (which I think is key) that the system will be monitored for "security," I have the option to opt-out and not use the system.

It's like corporate email -- if you're on an employer's system, you should understand that they can monitor your email at any time, even if that means that they might fire you for what you write.

I don't understand your association between private speech and public speech. Private speech on a telephone (which is owned by the telcos) being monitored has little to do with public speech, since monitoring of public speeches is hardly a problem. The more people that monitor the public speech, the better, as that's often the objective. If you're addressing self-censorship as a result to being aware of private-call monitoring, and having that tie into self-censorship while speaking publically, I think that's difficult to demonstrate.

August 15, 2006

DeeK said:
I think you are naive about wiretapping especially in light of the current's outright assault on civil rights. The following is a link that reports on Bush's attempt to implement laws that would subject ANYONE, civilians included, to military tribunals, whether terrorists or not for whatever crimes the military court can dream up.

A direct quote from the Washington Post article:

"Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors."

I don't trust any organization who few my rights as so circumspect to their desires that they would even PROPOSE such heinous legislation. If many Americans feels as you do, we shoulkd just open the stalags now!

Links to the article

August 15, 2006

DeeK said:
I post as wsdeek at Seattle-Pi. There I cam across a (long) quote from Craig Murray, British Ambassador to Uzbekistan 2002 to 2004. He raises the question of whom we should really be afraid of.

August 15, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
Deek, make whatever point you want to make, but please refrain from suggesting that folks are "naive" if they disagree with you. That's terribly self-righteous and rather offensive. If you have something to add to increase the knowledge pool for a group of people, just do it. Nobody wants to hear the pretext that you think somebody is naive.

In any event, your quote from the Washington Post deals directly with one of the many areas I feel are a problem with the Patriot Act. That doesn't really help defend your position that wire-tapping is a problem. I mean... I could extrapolate that if you're phones are bugged and you're singled out as a would-be terrorist, the feds might treat you like a war criminal instead of a civilian... but that's not an issue with phones being bugged. The problem is with the tribunals.

August 16, 2006

deek said:

August 16, 2006

deek said:
Sorry about the blank post, hit enter instead of tab.

could have worded the response it is naive, instead of you are naive.

Nonetheless, that Bush even suggests a tribunal for civilians regardless of whehter they are terrorists or not raises suspicions about the motivations for ANYTHING he does. One has to wonder about motivations for wire-tapping coming from the same person who so blatantly wants to deny rights to someone for any laws that can be made up as the process goes along. In other words, the wire-tapping, based on the excuse of fighting terror could be used for any reason if no checks are applied. Wire-taps applied with the civilians in military tribunals scheme means they could be applied for reasons that suit the president, including spying on political enemies, protestors or anyone that goes against the interest of the man or woman in power. Thus, my phone could be tapped for any reason, not just terrorism.

August 16, 2006

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