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Human Nature Trumps Homeland Security 304

Posted by Zonk
from the please-stop-with-the-ass-covering dept.
netbuzz writes "Security expert Bruce Schneier suggests this morning that 'there might not be a solution' to our post-9/11 penchant for making domestic anti-terrorism decisions based on the basic human desire to cover one's backside. He might be right. But shouldn't we at least try to figure out a better way? For example, wouldn't 'Commonsense Homeland Security' be a winning political banner, not a risky one? "
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Human Nature Trumps Homeland Security

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  • by Dirtside (91468) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:23PM (#18115016) Journal
    Like it or not, the only reason we have anything to fear from Islamic terrorists is because we've spent decades interfering with their politics. You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.
    • by eviloverlordx (99809) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:29PM (#18115108)
      Exactly. You don't see terrorist bombings in Norway, because Norway isn't sticking their collective noses in other peoples' business.
      • by gardyloo (512791)
        Exactly. You don't see terrorist bombings in Norway, because Norway isn't sticking their collective noses in other peoples' business.

              I thought it was because of the beautiful Fnords!
      • by servognome (738846) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:43PM (#18115340)

        Exactly. You don't see terrorist bombings in Norway, because Norway isn't sticking their collective noses in other peoples' business.
        There haven't seen terroist bombings yet in Norway, though they have been directly [boston.com] threatened [bbc.co.uk].
        • by krotkruton (967718) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:16PM (#18115808)
          There haven't seen terroist bombings yet in Norway, though they have been directly threatened.

          That sounds a lot like the US administration when they try to scare the public by saying that just because we haven't been attacked since 9/11, doesn't mean that the terrorists won't attack tomorrow...
          • by servognome (738846) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:37PM (#18116084)

            That sounds a lot like the US administration when they try to scare the public by saying that just because we haven't been attacked since 9/11, doesn't mean that the terrorists won't attack tomorrow...
            The US administration is right, some terrorist group will strike the US; the problem is that people don't put terrorism in perspective.
            20,000 people die each year from the flu, perhaps there should be some sort of war on virii declared - maybe we'll get universal health care funding :)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by krotkruton (967718)
              You're preaching to the choir on that one, but that really isn't what you were talking about before. I read somewhere that you are more likely to be killed by a pig than a terrorist (of course, that statistic leaves out a lot of relevant information, but still).

              It seemed like you were trying to counter the idea that the US is drawing the attention of terrorists by sticking it's nose in others' business with the fact that even Norway, who has not been attacked, has been threatened. Being threatened is not
          • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:22PM (#18117146) Homepage
            That sounds a lot like the US administration when they try to scare the public by saying that just because we haven't been attacked since 9/11, doesn't mean that the terrorists won't attack tomorrow...

            Now, this is just me, and of course I don't approve of this being used politically by Bush&Co to scare people into voting for them, but in a way I think he is right. I think Dick Cheney was right when he said that the Democrats taking control of the country could result in more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

            The basic reason is that as of right now there is still no need to attack the U.S. 9/11 got Osama bin Laden just about everything he could have ever dreamed for in response. We not only invaded one Muslim country but two, and think about what great P.R. that makes for his brochures! "U.S. wants to invade Muslim states and destroy them!" is much more convincing when you can point to a T.V. showing American troops occupying a Muslim state, right? "U.S. is full of depraved pyschopaths who hate us!" is much more convincing when you see pictures from abu Ghraib, no? Then there's the fact that we are being bloodied so badly in Iraq. The quagmire there is weakening us, just like Russia's failed occupation of Afghanistan weakened them. Not to mention Iraq is now a fantastic recruiting and training ground for more terrorists, who have grown multiplied faster than we can kill them. No single attack on us could hurt us as badly as what we are doing to ourselves in Iraq.

            So as long as the "War on Terror" continues full force, al Qaeda et al don't really need to bother with us directly. The War on Terror is exactly what they want.

            Now lets say that a new president comes in and starts rolling back the war on terror, pulls our troops out of Iraq. Well that won't do! Recruiting is a lot tougher when "America wants to kill Muslims!" is merely a hypothetical argument. So what's the obvious thing to do? Poke the tiger again! Another 9/11 so that even the most peacenik Pres of all time would have to bomb the shit out of somebody.

            We are vulnerable when we are crazy-scared of terrorism, running around doing stupid things and basically becoming our own worst enemy. So if we stop doing that, I say expect another attack to try to get us riled up and crazy again.

            The key thing to note is that this is the reaction they want, and thus it is imperative that we don't do it.
      • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:23PM (#18115914)

        Exactly. You don't see terrorist bombings in Norway, because Norway isn't sticking their collective noses in other peoples' business.
        Sure they do, Norwegian claims to fishing grounds in the North Atlantic are quite aggressive to the point of where you could classify them as a comic form of miniature Imperialism and they cause constant friction in Norway's diplomatic relations with it's neighbors. The reason you don't hear about armed clashes in the region is simply that North Atlantic costal states such as Russia, Norway and Iceland have long since abandoned such futile methods as conventional warfare for solving disputes about fish in favor of consuming large amounts of alcohol and then mooning each other from the bridge wings of their trawlers. The tactic gained popularity after it worked wonders against the destroyers and frigates of the Royal Navy during the cod wars of the 1950's and 70's.
      • Okay, I dont know where you get your information. But Norway has had troops in both Afghanistan [wikipedia.org] and Iraq [wikipedia.org]. Just these last weeks Norway was asked by the US/NATO to contribute more troops to Afghanistan. So we are sending even more special forces units. Not to mention our F-16s were flying missions down there. And I believe our Royal Norwegian navy is still part of related NATO missions in the Med.

        No, we have not had bombings in Norway yet. However we have had attacks on the only Synagogue in Oslo by Pakistan
    • by spun (1352)
      Cue the vitriolic attacks against this common sense statement by neo-con crazies in 3..2..1..

      Because, you know, suggesting that the universe is comprehensible, that actions have consequences and effects have causes beyond "They're EEEEEVIL!!!" is tantamount to treason these days.

      They hate use for our FREEDOM. End of discussion.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)
        Of course, all the evil acts committed by the people driving the terrorism do confuse the issue.

        An interesting take that minimizes religion as a driver:

        http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/061218fa_ fact2 [newyorker.com]
    • Do not agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scuba_steve_1 (849912) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:43PM (#18115332)
      I do not agree...at all.

      Certainly, we are not without sin, but the current rift is more complex than you portray. At the very least, it is due in part to a clash of cultures and religions that are almost diametrically opposed to one another. Freedom of speech, expression and, yes, religion are basic tenets of American society. We have grown so used to these basic freedoms that we assume that they are universally true...and they are not...regardless of how much we (or others) would like them to be.

      I am not attempting to flame, but I think that it is fair to say that some societies (especially some of those in the Mid-East) hold a specific religious dogma to be of principal importance to their society. All other laws and rules of behavior flow from that religious dogma...or, at the very least, cannot conflict with it. I think that it is also fair to say that the level of tolerance for conflicting beliefs is fairly low. Doubt it? Try carrying a stack of bibles into Saudi Arabia and see how far you get through customs. I'll tell you how far - to the line that leads to jail:

      http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGMDE2300220 00 [amnesty.org]
      http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1 012.html [state.gov]

      In America, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I worked in Japan for some time and realized that a somewhat similar Japanese phrase crystallizes the difference between our two cultures - the nail that sticks up gets hit. The clash of philosophies between Islam and the West make the differences between the US and Japan look trivial.
      • by sunwukong (412560)
        I do not agree...at all.

        Sunuva .... with that little blurb I had Shatner's voice reading out your post!

        You've ruined Homeland Security for me!
      • Don't fool yourself. This isn't a war between secularity and Islam. If that was the case we could win in one minute by pointing out that secular science created air conditioning, and the bad effects of it breaking down in the desert, or put an embargo on antibiotics. This is a war between two Jacobian states: The Christian theocracies and the Islamic ones. The Balkenende IV cabinet announced plans to ban the burka on grounds of security despite this being nonsense. Who put this in the election campaign? The
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vux984 (928602)
        Try carrying a stack of bibles into Saudi Arabia and see how far you get through customs. I'll tell you how far - to the line that leads to jail:

        Try this on for size: Try carrying a stack of Taliban-endorsed religious texts into the United States of America and see how far you get through customs. For bonus fun, get a deep tan, grow a beard, and wear traditional middle eastern attire. You might make it through... eventually.

        In America, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I worked in Japan for some time and real
    • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:43PM (#18115344) Homepage
      I prefer to be honest. We have not been 'interefering with their politics".

      Instead we let Republican Presidents (yes, it was ALWAYS Republicans that did this, Carter and Clinton did not make this mistake) search out and finding the most vicious, obnoxious, totalitarian, Facists we can find, giving them large amounts of aid, helping them to gain power. Then when we looked at who are friends were and what they were doing, we abandon them, often when they have grown dependent on our aid. This pissed them off, and either they declare us traitors, or they get thrown out of power and the revolutionaries hate us. We did it with Iran (Shah/Khomeni), Panama (Noreiga), Iraq (Hussein), and Afganistan (Bin Laden)

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:51PM (#18115464) Homepage Journal
        Okay, so the republicans get us into the problems. Then the dems ostensibly try to get us out with the results that they now hate us. Then the reps get us into something new. Eventually these conflicts boil up into wars that allow us to throw billions at the military-industrial complex, from which both dems and reps profit. So are you sure it's the reps making it all happen? I'd say it's the result of collusion between both parties, or from a more paranoid view, some higher level of organization that really runs both. I'm not really making that assertion, but you do have to realize that both reps and dems are populists, not actually liberals or conservatives, and that they are all part of the same corrupt kleptocracy.
      • by ArcherB (796902) *
        We did it with Iran (Shah/Khomeni), Panama (Noreiga), Iraq (Hussein), and Afganistan (Bin Laden),

        Actually, bailing on Iran was Carter's doing. The other two you can "blame" Republicans, but notice how Panama and Afghanistan have been "fixed".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by silentounce (1004459)
      Your comment might have been insightful, except for one thing. "the only reason" That shows blatant ignorance. This world is far more complex that. There is no "only reason" for anything. One of the reasons that they want to kill us is because of the political/military interference. Another reason is their hatred of our religion. There is also a centuries old grudge against the West based on the Crusades. That will not go away, EVER. Some few people will always be able to find a "motive" to do evil
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.

      I think the situation is a little more complex than that. "Arranging things" so that one group has no motive will very likely give another group motive, especially in the fiercely diverse belief systems throughout the middle east.

      Nonetheless, military strikes are clearly not the solution in most cases, except to combat another agressive military. Random acts of violence are crimes, not military offensives, and should be trea
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dr Kool, PhD (173800)
      Interfering with their politics? More like daring to a non-Islamic free society. To quote the Aussie PM:

      Australia is a western nation. Nothing can, will or should alter that fact. As such, in this new world, we are a terrorist target. Those who assert that through some calibration of our foreign policy we can buy immunity from terrorist attacks advance a proposition which is both morally flawed and factually wrong.

      It is morally flawed because this nation should never fashion its foreign policy under threat.
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      Like it or not, the only reason we have anything to fear from Islamic terrorists is because we've spent decades interfering with their politics. You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.

      What has Indesia [npr.org] done? How are they interfering in Islamic politics?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kenrod (188428)
      Like it or not, the only reason we have anything to fear from Islamic terrorists is because we've spent decades interfering with their politics. You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.

      History does not agree with you, for reasons others have pointed out. This has been going on for centuries. The only thing that has changed in the past few decades is that oil wealth and technology have finally made it possible for Islamic terrorists to

    • Like it or not, the only reason we have anything to fear from Islamic terrorists is because we've spent decades interfering with their politics. You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.

      The US has made a number of enemies by interfering, not just in the Middle East, but also South America. But to say that's the reason Islamic terrorists hate the US is wrong. Denmark has reason to fear terrorists, and all they did was print a cartoon!
      Fun

    • Ceasing interference with their politics in order to stop terrorism is a bad idea. It proves that terrorism is an effective tool against the US. (See also, Barbary Pirates [wikipedia.org].)

      Ceasing interference with their politics because its the right thing to do is a great idea.

      Convincing anyone that our reasons are the latter is an impossible idea. :)

      Granted, I've given no solution here. Perhaps the best solution is to cease interference with their politics (for the right reason of course), but if they take this as

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bnenning (58349)
      You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.

      Certainly; we could adopt sharia and allow them to exterminate the Jews. Islamic extremists are not otherwise rational people who are only striking at us because of our injustices. In their own countries they're stoning homosexuals and adulterers/rape victims, forbidding women from learning to read, and violently suppressing other religions. We didn't make them do that. We could cease all military
  • I gotta blame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:27PM (#18115074)
    the media for this CYA security. Every time A Bad Thing(tm) happens, the media (TV) is all about "How can we prevent this from ever ever ever happening again?". Nothing is ever a fluke, every time something goes titsup, we have to take action, dammit!
  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto@@@connexer...com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:28PM (#18115104) Homepage

    But shouldn't we at least try to figure out a better way? For example, wouldn't 'Commonsense Homeland Security' be a winning political banner, not a risky one?

    Scenario 1:

    1. $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS say "this is overblown, go back about your normal business"
    2. Terrorist attack happens
    3. People howl that $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS did nothing when they had the chance

    Scenario 2:

    1. $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS do everything that they can to prevent anything even resembling a terrorist attack
    2. No terrorist attacks happen for a short time
    3. People howl that $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS only want to take away people's rights and institute facism

    With options like that, it doesn't matter what they do, as they are always going to be wrong.

    • My $PRESIDENT variable isn't set to what I think it's supposed to be set to. Can someone please debug that? Or do we need a hard reboot?
    • Not exactly. (Score:4, Informative)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:36PM (#18115228)
      Most of the time the politicians WANT the people to be afraid because fear is an emotion and emotions are easier to use when re-election time comes.

      Politicians who run on fear don't have any thing else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Most of the time the politicians WANT the people to be afraid because fear is an emotion and emotions are easier to use when re-election time comes.


        "I want this country to realize that we stand on the edge of oblivion.
          I want everyone to remember *why* they need us!"
        • by khasim (1285)
          The people will still be the people. They might be voting against you, but they are still the people.

          In a Democracy, the government will still be the government. You might not be re-elected to it, but it is still the government.

          The politician is not the government. The politician is not the nation. The politician is not the people.

          These have all existed before the politician and will exist after the politician.

          But the politician will attempt to confuse them and portray himself/herself as the people, the nat
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MidVicious (1045984)

      $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS do everything that they can to prevent anything even resembling a terrorist attack

      Does that include duct tape on the windows and the banning of liquids on all non-private airlines? (God forbid if a terrorist has a enough money to charter private flights).

      When your 'do everything they can' scenario actually happens as a viable and logical solution, maybe then your 'do everything they can' scenario will make sense. Or possibly be proven invalid.

    • The whole idea of homeland security doesn't matter much really. No matter how many troops you have, no matter how many cameras are put up, somebody can strike anyplace at anytime. The main tool of 9/11 was information and box cutters. Some kids in Columbine had a lot more at their disposal. Think about it. Instead of actively aggravating the problem beyond the use of covert means, and giving up rights for anti-productive policies people need to accept that terrorism happens and that we need to live with it
    • by curunir (98273) *
      There's a third option. Spend time actually investigating the feasibility of and likelyhood of certain attacks, including types of attacks that have not yet happened.

      In that scenario, you come up with answers like yes, it makes sense to lock the cockpit doors. This prevents the plane from being hijacked and used as a missile. There's also very few implications of this policy, beyond creating and minor inconvenience for pilots. But you also come up with conclusions like attempting to blow up an airplane
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:29PM (#18115112) Homepage Journal
    Being perceived as "tough on terrorism" is far more important than having a workable plan. Politics is mostly about posturing while having your way with an unrelated issue at the same time.
    • That's the sad thing about Democrats versus Republicans. Republicans are AMAZING marketers, they have brilliant ways to convince the people their plans are the best. If they would only put this effort and briliance to work bettering the country instead of just working the media, trying to get re-elected, and giving kickbacks and crony positions to their supporters, we as a nation and as a planet would be in much better shape.

      Democrats suck at marketing, and the 2004 campaign is perfect example of that. R
  • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:35PM (#18115216)
    There should be a few new rules to be a president/VP of the U.S.

    #1. If you start a war, you send your kids to the frontlines of whatever country you are attacking.

    #2. Your kid stays there till your term is over.

    #3. You cannot own any companies or be a shareholder of any.
    • I think we should alter #1 to go back to the really old days when the leader actually led the army into battle. The President and VP should be the first two people to enter every major battle.

      Let's see Bush actually complete his service.
      • agreed - the President's kids don't necessarily support their parent's policies and shouldn't be forced to go and risk their lives to support them. That's a greater violation of their human rights than a draft ("yeah, we're drafting you & you as a bargaining chip against your parent"). Heck, it's no better than kidnapping the leader of a country's kids and holding them to ransom until national policy changes and, for added fun, every day you throw 5 dice and if you get 5 sixes, they get killed.
    • by wass (72082)
      Agreed. Maybe extend #1 to include the children of any Senators or Congresspeople that vote for said war.

      Of course all this will do is open a bureaucratic maze of legal loopholes to allow them to declare war without declaring war, to keep their own kids off the front lines. Ie, kind of like how Congress never officially declared war on Iraq, yet by any sense of the word we're at war.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by silentounce (1004459)
        There are some people that already do this. Like John McCain. Hey, wait a second, he supports the war. Actually, I believe that you'll find that the majority of politicians that have relatives in Iraq support the fight as well. McCain wants to be president and he'll feet these inane requirements, plus he was a POW for several years himself. I don't know why I'm even replying to this thread. It's simply ignorant.
        • by wass (72082)
          Actually, I believe that you'll find that the majority of politicians that have relatives in Iraq support the fight as well.

          Majority of politicians with relatives in Iraq? There's only a handful of Senators and Congressmen that actually have their children or their siblings serving in the war. Many are just begging to count their 4th cousin twice removed that's serving, so they can claim they have relatives in the war.

          Look at the biggest pushers for the war, and consider how many of them have children ser
    • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:15PM (#18115794) Journal
      #1. If you start a war, you send your kids to the frontlines of whatever country you are attacking.

      I served so the Bush twins wouldn't have to. I'll gladly donate my service to them. That's why it's called a Volunteer Force. No one is in Iraq that doesn't want to be. If they wanted out, all they have to do is make a pass at their commanding officer (provided their commanding officer is the same sex they are)

      #2. Your kid stays there till your term is over.

      Did that... served in the MidEast under two administrations.

      #3. You cannot own any companies or be a shareholder of any.

      Their money is in a blind trust. They don't know where their money is. Besides, if they had to put their money into common interest baring accounts, they would get blasted everytime the interest rates went up. Or would you prefer that they just keep all their money under the mattress in the Lincoln bedroom?
      • Compairing serving in kuwait [slashdot.org], and the relative peace that followed to whats going on now = free

        Completely missing the point to brag about your own military history = priceless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gregoryb (306233)

      I read a book recently that touched on something similar to this. Part of the argument was if more of our leadership actually had any military experience, they might stop treating the military as a black box they can just throw any problem in and crank out any solution they desired. Also, if more of our leadership (cultural as well as political) had children who served in the military, they might think twice of using the military in some of the ways it's been used in the past decade.

      The book was titled AWO [amazon.com]

    • by profplump (309017)
      Because obviously as the child of the president you deserve to be forced into military service. After all, you always could have chosen other parents, or been a more obedient child so your mother wouldn't have to start a war.
  • by RichPowers (998637) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:38PM (#18115246)
    If the government was seriously interested in reducing the threat from terrorism, they would've come up with a comprehensive, and practical, plan for creating stability and peace in the Middle East. But that's simply not the case. For example, the only thing the extremists hate more than the US and the West is Israel. Unfortunately, the Israeli/Palestinian peace process has never been on the administration's frontburner when compared to Iraq and Saudi Arabia policies. And speaking of Iraq, what better way to galvanize potential terrorists than by fulfilling Osama's message that the Infidels want to invade the holy lands? Not having a competent reconstruction plan or means of dealing with sectarian conflict doesn't help either. Then there's the perception that the US is ignoring diplomacy with Iran because President Bush wants war. Even if this claim is meritless, that is still how many people see it. All of this, coupled with deep-rooted societal issues, creates the conditions that foster terrorism. New government agencies and stupid color-coded charts do jack shit to address the core issues. And by relying on bureaucrats, as the author says, we're setting ourselves up for disaster. The government needs to stop with the feel-good, expensive, worthless Homeland Security measures and really tackle the issue at its source...
  • As a slogan, yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110)
    "Commonsense security" would make a grand slogan. But in practice that would be the same stuff we get now, because the spin merchants would insist that whatever they're promoting is commonsense. "It's common sense to imprison everybody and have robots look after their basic needs; after all, if it saves one child..."
  • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:45PM (#18115366) Homepage
    It is far more than just 'coverings ones ass'. The is also the power trip of being able to control people and make them jump through hoops. Add to that there is job security, no inflated risk, no job to contain the risk, real or not. Then there is the opportunity for promotion, the greater the risk, the bigger the department, the higher the head of the departments salary as well as an inflated sence of self worth for that department head. Incumbent politics also loves a populace who feels under threat as they are less likely to vote the other party in, FUD always tends to win over the unknowing. Then there are the corporations that profit as a result of all those security threats, security systems, guards etc.

    Everything remains until such time as the electorate get sick of all of it and kick out the party that is profiting by it and replace them with the politic party that will shift the focus away from terrorizing the public with bogus threats and focus on all those mundane issues that will affect the lives of the majority like, universal health care, universal education, the environment and the falling average standard of living ie they toss out the party that focuses on the wealthy minority and making them richer, safer and protecting them from the poor that the rich create and instead focus upon the working poor and on preventing the now shrinking middle class from sliding down to join the working poor.

    You can always tell the most corrupt politicians because they will always pat themselves on the back for how much profit the corporations and the wealthy that control those corporations are making and completely ignore how many ex-middle class families have joined the ranks of the working poor.

  • Security? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:54PM (#18115496)

    When I think of the term security, my first thought is as the first word in the term "security blanket". It's an emotional state for a person, not a logical state to be achieved in a system.

    The same holds whenever I hear the term 'homeland security' and 'national security' - these systems are not designed, oriented, or run in any way to make an impervious wall to potential damage - they are, and have always been, publicity measures to evoke the emotional state of security.

    If we were to create a system of real 'functional' national security, it would be a nightmare all around. We would have to make it practically impossible for any damage to be done to the protected area - which isn't plausible unless you completely prevented living things from being in the protected area or anything in range. Even the middle of the Demilitarized Zone in Korea would not fit such a definition.

    Beyond this technicality though, people don't want even limited functional security. They want a shield from external consequences - they want a daddy to look over them, a very biased daddy who will listen to their complaints and hurt the bad guys. This, to a degree, is the goal behind the current illusion of security.

    At the same time though, I'm glad it is the merely political/emotional system it is. Because I'd rather have a bumbling mostly-absent daddy-figure in that space, than a system which actually had the power to implement a system of authoritarian measures beyond most people's 'convenience' threshold. I acknowledge that I'm in mild danger without some precautions (in any case, really) - but I find an entrenched abusable 'security' environment much more terrifying than all the horrible rebel terrorists in the world, in the same way that I'd find a poison labeled as candy more terrifying than all the poison in the world.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by flaming error (1041742) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:04PM (#18115650) Journal
    > wouldn't 'Commonsense Homeland Security' be
      > a winning political banner

    Nope. The media won't understand it. That banner has too many words.
  • not a new problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trb (8509) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:46PM (#18116184)
    This is, unfortunately, not a new problem. Israel addresses the problem in a more sensible way than the USA does. I see that other references to Israel in this thread are mostly anti-Israel jingoism (so far) but I won't address that.

    Israel's approach is borne of being surrounded by enemies and inundated by non-friends. They deal with it by having intelligent people working in their security forces, including at the airport. They frisk you (usually with a metal detector wand) when you enter any gathering place - restaurant, bus station, theater, museum, post office, etc. They use profiling, political correctness be damned. Their security practices seem intelligent - you don't have to take off your shoes when you run their usual airport security gauntlet, and a grandmother traveling with her family isn't going to get run through the same ringer as a suspicious young person.

    Israel deals with real terror threats every day. They defuse real attacks every day. Maybe they know what they're doing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tom's a-cold (253195)

      Israel deals with real terror threats every day.

      Time for some definitions. Were the Fenians a "real terror threat?" And how about the French Resistance? Or the Algerians driving out the French? How about the ANC?

      I have met people who have been on the receiving end of the attentions of the "intelligent" Israeli security forces and those of the equally intelligent and famously well-run Israeli military. I never want to see the US go down that road. Me, I'm still hoping Abu Ghraib and uncounted civilian c

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sheldon (2322)
      There was a story a few years ago of a woman who was found trying to carry a bomb onto a plane. The woman was pregnant, she was alone, and she was trying to travel to a country where she did not have any family. Israeli security identified this during their brief questioning and thought it very odd. So they pulled her aside and did a thorough search of her luggage and found a bomb.

      The woman didn't know there was a bomb. She was simply offered a sum of money to carry a bag.

      Fortunately, Israel is smarter
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Racial profiling works when used properly, and does not work when misused. In the end, it's nothing more than applied statistics. Whether it is ethically wrong or not is another issue.
  • by Initi (1031362) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:33PM (#18116638)
    There has arisen a contention between civil liberties and 'homeland security' (a term i loath) precisely because a people cannot remain free and 'protected'. Freedom requires that the coercive and intrusive capabilities of authority are limited and restrained; 'protection' requires that they are not. Can these two interests be balanced appropriately?

    I, for one, believe not. Perhaps for this reason that free people seem reflexively aggressive in foreign relation (US and GBR for example); the inability to sufficiently balance these two interests lends itself to the use of external direct force. As a free people desire that their authorities protect their interests and shield them from harm (via police, fire and rescue squads, ambulance services, and yes military) they will only allow so much intrusion upon their liberties (civil rights and liberties, privacy, dignity, &c). In order to achieve its mandate to 'protect' the citizenry the authority applies direct, sometimes extreme, force upon the external threat (be it a criminal, foreign power, bomb chucking anarchist, &c).

    Unfortunately, authorities in the US have evidently determined that we have enough of neither. Rights, liberties, and simple human dignity is being lost while simultaneously a rather large and significant amount of external force is being applied.

  • Ever wonder? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by s31523 (926314) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:37PM (#18116676)
    I was thinking about this the other day as I set up a zombie PC as a honeypot [wikipedia.org]:
    I wonder if the various agencies do this for would be terrorists? Here on US soil, even over in the big sandbox. I guess the more appropriate term would be sting, but the concept is the same. Setup a weapons depot, or something else the terrorists are interested in and wait for them to come get it, and bust their ass. Remember the old scam where cops sent people with outstanding warrants notices that they won a boar or something, then busted them? I think we need to get creative, and start to be a little more proactive.
  • ouch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by towsonu2003 (928663) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:06PM (#18116986)
    Approaching security with "common sense" in a racist, sexist and capitalist society is dangerous at best...

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