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Causing Terror On the Cheap 448

Posted by Soulskill
from the quiet-shoes-and-a-creepy-mask dept.
jhigh writes "Bruce Schneier posts on his blog today about the value of terror with respect to cost-benefit for the terrorists. If you look at terror attacks in terms of what they cost the terrorists to implement, compared with what they cost the economy of the nation that was hit, the reward for terrorists is astronomical. Add in the insane costs of the security measures implemented afterward, particularly in America, and it's easy to see why the terrorists do what they do. Even when they're unsuccessful, they cost us billions in security countermeasures."
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Causing Terror On the Cheap

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  • Well, Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mschaffer (97223) * on Monday November 29, 2010 @02:52PM (#34377324)

    Let's face it, I don't know if the Terrorists have "won", but we have surely lost. Terrorists have changed our lives, robbed us of many of our guaranteed rights and freedoms (in the US this has occurred with the aid of our government), and we are paying for it every day (and not just with dollars).

    • Re:Well, Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:00PM (#34377434)

      They wouldn't have won if the cowards who think all these trampling of our rights were "necessary" to be safe. Also, it wouldn't happen folks would get it through their think skulls that it's impossible to be safe, the Government will only make it look like they're keeping us safe; and in the meantime, folks are still playing dice with their lives while they tool down the highway yakking on their cell phones without any concern for their lives.

      People are stupid.

      • Re:Well, Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:18PM (#34377724) Journal

        Its even worse than that - the US Government isn't just suspending the rights of its own citizens, it affects EVERYONE who has to interact with them. I did not vote upon Canadian Representatives based on their policies of airport security because it wasn't an issue when the elections were held. Now that the issue has arisen and body Scanners are in Canadian Airports... wait who approved that? My Government? My government bowed to your government. And a dozen other countries along with it. I merely want to visit an American city for my vacation - I have high hopes though as I haven't heard any fondling stories taking place Canada (yet) because I don't believe our airport security HAS to take orders from the TSA and I don't think we've employed the "enhanced pat-down technique". This means I'm allowed to Opt out and get a regular pat down -
        but I don't know if thats the case in the UK - I believe the law there recently (might have changed) was that you might get selected for Body scanning (possibly at random) and if you are selected, you have two options: Take the scan or not fly. That is their only opt-out.

        Really now - the worst part is - this is the case even if I don't plan to stay in the States. If I want to go to Mexico there will no doubt be a stopover somewhere Stateside. It doesn't seem fair that their airport security policy applies to me even if I'm only there for an hour inside the same airplane. Really, there should be another method to handle those flights if they are really concerned (segregrated runway, new terminal, etc).

        Please - I know US Citizens don't have a whole lot of power when it comes to running your country, and that most of the time it's run by powers far beyond your control - but if there's ANYTHING I could ask from you guys, it's to create enough of an outcry over issues such as this that BOTH parties take a negative stance to it - like how it was important for the US to have a "Pull out of Iraq" plan for the last election even if not completely implemented or immediately soon, it pushed some steps in the right direction.

        • by anyGould (1295481)

          because I don't believe our airport security HAS to take orders from the TSA

          As I understand it, Canada has to get the nudie scanners in order to continue to pre-screen people for the US. (Which is part of our free-trade in their direction policy).

          The minister has already come out against the groping, but at the same time they're adding "privacy screens", so I wouldn't be surprised if they're just waiting to block the incriminating videos once they start.

          That's one thing you have to admire about the American Government these days - they're not afraid to do their violating right out

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by c6gunner (950153)

          Now that the issue has arisen and body Scanners are in Canadian Airports... wait who approved that? My Government? My government bowed to your government.

          Eh, no. The US has laid out a set of requirements for passage through their airspace. Unless you're suggesting that our government should have said "screw you, we're sending our planes there anyway", we had no choice but to comply with those regulations. It's got nothing to do with bowing - it has to do with respecting the sovereignty of other nations. The only other alternative is to stop sending aircraft to (and through) the US entirely.

          Really, there should be another method to handle those flights if they are really concerned (segregrated runway, new terminal, etc).

          Yeah, because a segregated runway will stop someone from hijackin

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Now that the issue has arisen and body Scanners are in Canadian Airports... wait who approved that? My Government? My government bowed to your government.

            Eh, no. The US has laid out a set of requirements for passage through their airspace. Unless you're suggesting that our government should have said "screw you, we're sending our planes there anyway", we had no choice but to comply with those regulations. It's got nothing to do with bowing - it has to do with respecting the sovereignty of other nations. The only other alternative is to stop sending aircraft to (and through) the US entirely.

            Well yes - that is EXACTLY what I'm saying. We could have said "No, we're not doing that" and either the US could have forced our planes back, causing a huge uproar and likely made them revise their outtake on it - or not. It's exactly like bowing - we went to "respect their soveriegnty" in the same way Iraq is Respecting their sovereignty, fear of the consequences if we don't, despite it not being in our best interest.

            Really, there should be another method to handle those flights if they are really concerned (segregrated runway, new terminal, etc).

            Yeah, because a segregated runway will stop someone from hijacking an airliner in flight, and crashing it into a building. That sounds reasonable.

            Which shows how ridiculous it is - I don't even have to fly to the US to hijack a plane a

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by c6gunner (950153)

              It's exactly like bowing - we went to "respect their soveriegnty" in the same way Iraq is Respecting their sovereignty, fear of the consequences if we don't, despite it not being in our best interest.

              No, you're not getting this. Respecting their sovereignty in this case means not invading their airspace. We don't do that to anyone, other than nations we're at war with, and it has nothing to do with fear - it has to do with well established protocols regarding the way nations behave towards each other. You don't go around sending aircraft into other nations without first getting permission. You do that to North Korea and they'll shoot down your civilian airliners. Do it to the US and they'll probabl

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chapter80 (926879)

          I haven't heard any fondling stories taking place Canada (yet)

          If the TSA had followed my recommendation, we'd all be eager to fly. Have five separate fondling lines. Passengers get to choose which examination they want:

          1) The currently implemented fondle line
          2) A line to get fondled by the Hooters girl
          3) A line to get fondled by a Chippendale's guy
          4) An OB/GYN
          5) A GP/Prostate examiner

          You could get fondled the TSA way, or get felt up by a sexy person of the gender of your choice. Or you could have a physical at the same time. We'd be catching ovarian and prost

    • Re:Well, Duh! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Garridan (597129) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:03PM (#34377482)

      We've been pretty good about the whole "don't negotiate with terrorists" ideal. However, we should do one better, and "don't acknowledge terrorists". We flinch and whimper and crawl into a fetal position at the loss of a handful of lives, or, in the case of the 2009 christmas attempt, a few hairs on some idiot's scrotum.

      • Re:Well, Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:16PM (#34377694) Homepage Journal

        The terrorists are a control freak's wet dream come true.

      • It cost the terrorists way more than $4200 to pull this off. Many of them died trying to pull off attacks like this. Same with the 9/11 attacks. Many of them paid for the attacks with their lives, either killed or captured.

        On the other hand, at least some of the trillions we've spent are an inevitable part of defending ourselves in a world where there are always people trying to enslave you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by publiclurker (952615)
          Except we are the ones doing the enslaving, assuming that their governments don't just roll over so that your corporate bosses can take advantage of them. the rest of your blather is nothing more than the usual cowardice espoused by people who do not deserve any sort of freedom in any case.
          • by tibit (1762298)

            While I mostly agree, freedom is not something one "deserves"t. It's a basic human right. Everyone "deserves" it simply because they are human, cowards or not.

          • by mrcaseyj (902945)

            You wouldn't be allowed to publicly make comments like that if your government was enslaving you.

            publiclurker wrote:

            Except we are the ones doing the enslaving, assuming that their governments don't just roll over so that your corporate bosses can take advantage of them.

        • by jfengel (409917)

          No mod points, so I'll concur and expand instead.

          The $4,200 figure is misleading because it doesn't count the failed attacks. It's still nowhere near the amount the US has spent trying to stop them, not by several orders of magnitude, but it makes it clearer that each attack represents risk in more than one way.

          An attack that is attempted but fails costs more than money. It exposes them to the chance of capture, and each captured person might turn over information that thwarts other attacks. Good securit

      • Re:Well, Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Onymous Coward (97719) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:34PM (#34377992) Homepage

        Exactly this.

        Folks, they're terrorists. The point is terror. The more you worry about them, the more they've won.

        And people who make a big deal about them and about fighting them are doing exactly what the terrorists want, what the terrorists need. To be effective, terrorists need your support, in the form of your active fear. Quit giving it to them. Try this instead: focus on how many deaths we suffer from car accidents each year, or even just eating badly. Put things into perspective.

    • by fredjh (1602699)

      Agreed... when they say the terrorists have "won" it's because they've used fear to disrupt our economy, our way of life, and (as evidenced by the TSA) reduced our liberties. Well done, knee jerk reaction idiots...

      With the underwear bomber last year, I'm surprised we're even allowed to wear clothing at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jeffmeden (135043)

        But that was a *bona-fide* act of terrorism thanks to the limp wristed liberal government! Surely we need more protectors to save us from exploding undies. To say otherwise would be unpatriotic!

        I learned of all this by watching Fox news; didn't you?

    • Re:Well, Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Drew_9999 (750818) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:04PM (#34377500)

      Terrorists have... robbed us of many of our guaranteed rights and freedoms

      No, they didn't. We gave them up.

      • by umeboshi (196301)

        Speak for yourself. I have only just begun to secure my liberty.

      • No, they didn't. We gave them up.

        No, the people calling themselves "The US Government" are abridging our natural rights, often in ways that enrich their friends.

        Who's really doing the most damage here?

      • Re:Well, Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Achra (846023) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:39PM (#34378058) Journal
        No, we didn't. They were taken from us. Systematically and by both parties of government.
    • by rsborg (111459)

      Specifically for those terrorists in the set of ( Authoritarian Politicians, Kleptocrats, Corporatists).

      For these soulless creatures, they've profited and gained beyond measure.

    • by fantomas (94850) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:19PM (#34377746)

      I grew up in the UK. In the 70s and 80s there were bombs going off regularly in the UK because of the situation in Northern Ireland but the response seemed to be less significant than the response to the present 'terror'. People seemed to get on with life more back then and seemed to be more pragmatic in their responses.

      Anybody know why it seems like we've responded with a much greater response this time round? Because these guys are suicide bombers? People worry more? Or did we respond at about the same level last time round?

      I was in London when the truck bomb blew up large parts of Canary Wharf, the people I knew who worked in the area seemed to be more concerned about checking if they should go to work the next day, if the office was still there, more than anything else.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:44PM (#34378116)

        I think it has to do with the fact that many fewer people in Western countries have closely experienced really terrible times like war, famine, plagues and the like. In the 60's and 70's many people had still directly experienced WWII and if not were surrounded by others that had. I think some of that perspective has been lost.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jaweekes (938376)

        I agree. I was also in the UK during "the troubles" and then in the US for the Oklahoma bombing; the difference was drastic in news coverage and response.

        Al Qaeda first tried to take down the twin towers with car bombs, but I have never seen car screening when parking in a high-rise. So I really do think the airport security is really out of line, and will deter me from flying unless I really have too.

        I would have been on one of the planes that would have been blown up in August 2006, and that doesn't sca

      • Anybody know why it seems like we've responded with a much greater response this time round? Because these guys are suicide bombers? People worry more? Or did we respond at about the same level last time round?

        I think we responded like it idiots because it was an exceptionally climatic event that everyone witnessed and the madness of crowds set in. We've had deadly terrorist attacks on airplanes for decades [swpat.org] prior to 9/11. But they were rarely caught on film - at worst we only saw the aftermath in the form of rubble on the ground or debris on the water.

      • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:03PM (#34378402)

        Anybody know why it seems like we've responded with a much greater response this time round?

        The reasons are many, and varied, but largely it comes down to "cable news" and the 24-hour news cycle. Cable news now has to both increase ratings and run many more stories. One way they can deal with this pressure is to discuss an issue over and over again up to a fever pitch, leaving Ma and Pa Kettle terrified. This didn't used to happen, back when the message was 'keep calm and carry on.'

        The 24-hour news cycle further complicates matters by frightening politicians into thinking they'll be out of a job if they come down on the side of common sense, as opposed to fear mongering and security theatre. For example, imagine if a politician were to come down against junk fondling and then some brown guy were to smuggle some firecrackers on board a plane. The cable news networks would flay that politician alive in endless segments aired over and over again...

    • by Cruciform (42896)

      Terrorists robbed you of nothing. People looking for an excuse to put the populace under their thumb took your rights away. They just convinced people it was the only way to be safe.

    • by Achra (846023)
      The truth of the matter is that the terrorists represent nothing but a convenient implacable enemy, by which tyrants can seize greater control of the populace.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      We can blame our post-Nuremburg fetish for "lawfare". In attempting to outlaw war (well, war by the law-abiding, everyone else is free to fight) we can't use the savage methods necessary to deter a savage enemy. We have to pretend they don't work or else the PC folks descend like shrieking harpies to insist that force has never accomplished anything in history.

      We can, however, pretend sweet sweet law keeps us warm and safe at no cost. It's a lie, but we like that sort of lie.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      I don't know if the Terrorists have "won", but we have surely lost

      The US and allies meddle a whole lot more in the Arab world, not less. We have not fallen to our knees and converted to their particular idiotic and hypocritical cult within Islam. They didn't come anywhere close to destroying the west. I firmly believe they are not resting in an afterlife enjoying 40 virgins.

      They utterly and totally failed at their stated goals.

      They did -spark- many other problems for us, all minor compared to what they were aiming for. Sparked, not caused. We gave up our rights and w

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AdamThor (995520)

      http://min.us/iu4yM.jpeg [min.us]

      I'm just sayin...

  • follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bugi (8479) on Monday November 29, 2010 @02:55PM (#34377374)

    So who benefits financially?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nos. (179609)

      Those who build, sell, and service security products.

    • by jayme0227 (1558821) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:16PM (#34377706) Journal

      Clearly, it's George Soros! My bedroom is full of puppets and chalk boards that show evidence of this. Unfortunately, the world is full of idiots who can't see the logic behind it all.

    • Following the money shows us who is willing to give away the true value for trinkets. The money is not what terrorists want. The terrorists want something beyond value, to wit our ideals and morals. They want to make us less free. Sadly, because so many people are willing to give away those priceless things in exchange for money, and so many others support their efforts as long as those people throw the word "safety" in the mix from time to time, we have what we have today. The terrorists did not take
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The head of the TSA benefits financially from those nude scanners. IMO he should be fired, and the TSA and Homeland Security should be abolished. I don't think anybody can show that a single life has been saved by either of those agencies.

  • Goals (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <mdinsmore.gmail@com> on Monday November 29, 2010 @02:59PM (#34377418) Homepage Journal

    Certainly, I think the premise is true. It's why terrorism continues to be a tool, and why it's so hard to get rid of.

    What's never been clear to me is how the economic impact to the target country helps towards the stated goals of the terrorists. Does Al Queda believe that if they depress our economy consistently enough, we will no longer be able to financially support Israel? History proves that not to be true.

    • Re:Goals (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metrometro (1092237) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:05PM (#34377522)

      The goal or Al Queda, is and always was to transform the Islamic world along their fundamentalist ideals. Their best idea of how to do that is convince Muslims they are under attack from a powerful outside enemy, and that Al Queda is leading the resistance. The US has played it's part in this game, from their point of view, perfectly.

      Stupid, stupid, stupid US policy to take this bait.

      • Re:Goals (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:43PM (#34378100)

        I always said they should be building schools and hospitals over in Afghanistan. 20 years from now they couldn't muster enough explosives to blow their nose.

        "Crazy grandpa's talking about the US being the devil again. I'm off to school with my sister!"

        "Okay honey, I'll take him into the hospital and get his meds refilled."

        Bring in gun registration. "No, it's totally fine to have a rocket launcher. You just have to register it first. Well, yes, if something gets blown up with a rocket we're going to come ask you where you were. Assault rifle? No problem, get an eye exam, take the gun safety course, and fill out form Q-48A and you're golden. You can pick up a rifle case at Wal-Mart."

        These guys have no long-term strategy.

      • Re:Goals (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:02PM (#34378376) Journal
        When there is media frenzy about the latest underwear bomber or about a possibly anthrax but could be chalk dust thing, what is the incentive for the bureaucrat/sheriff/assistant deputy sub administrator to do the sane thing? Should the slightest thing go wrong, in reality or in the imagination of someone, is there any chance for these people to stand up and say, "Look, in retrospect, sitting in arm chair, after all the facts have been collected, whetted and unreliable and useless information removed, it looks like it could have been averted if A has done B or C has not done D. But back at the thick of the things, I did not want to infringe on the liberty and freedom of millions of Americans just on mere suspicion. It was a calculated risk. The millions of people who were not affected by this incident. If I had imposed heavy handed security measures, those millions would have been put through needless burdens. That savings justifies the cost."

        No way anyone is going stand that. Everyone from the President down to the last blogger is after some blood, some scape goat, some one who can be blamed for it all, and may be sued on top of that for damages. So every damn bureaucrat is going to make sure there is enough paper trail to protect his tail seven times over.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      Do you think they care? Maybe a few do, but the people sticking their necks out to get cut off are venomously religious and truly believe that the US and the west in general have wronged them and their god and the only way to escape the tyranny of their rule is to fight back with holy jihads by killing or blowing things up, etc..

      The religion is totally messed up in its modern belief systems, but that can be said for so many other faith based groups over the life of religion on Earth. The point I want to mak

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 (1525137)
      It's guerrilla tactics. You attack your target, wear it down, stretch it thinner and thinner. The point isn't to hurt the US's economy until we can no longer afford to support Israel. The point is to weaken our faith in our system and government. The US government can handle external pressure. But when it also has to deal with internal pressure at the same time, its ability to do both is severely limited. And this happens with any government, not just our own.

      A perfect example would be the classic ga

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Their aim is to produce chaos in the hope that they can then sweep in with their own brand of authoritarian lunacy and have people flock to them as their only hope for peace. Economic collapse can make people grab onto any crazy thing that seems moderately organized and "safe". At the risk of invoking Goodwin's law, see Germany circa 1930's and remember that Hitler was originally elected.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fyngyrz (762201)

      Certainly, I think the premise is true. It's why terrorism continues to be a tool, and why it's so hard to get rid of.

      It is only true because our government promotes the illusion of safety over the reality of liberty; and because they have absolutely no compunction about wasting the money they take from the citizens. After all, they can always take more. For the children. We can't stop this. The majority of the population is completely taken in by this nonsense.

      What's never been clear to me is how t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)



        What we should be doing is hitting Islamist interests, so the rank and file
        Or, getting off oil so we can leave Israel to fend for itself. I do believe, and I haven't had it cogently disproven yet, that if we abandoned Israel the jihad against America would be halted. They might continue to hate us, sure; but I don't think it would continue to rise to the level of militancy. I could be wrong, but I believe that the basis of the jihad against America is because America funds Israel, and America remains
  • by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 29, 2010 @02:59PM (#34377422) Homepage Journal
    I seem to recall a number of economists and poli sci students in the early 90s smugly telling me all about a component of the Soviet Union's cold war "loss" and economic collapse: the US making them think they had to spend more and more in the arms race with us (zomg, USA can destroy the world 10 times over, we can only do it 5 times, build more nukes comrade!). A pretty shaky social contract, to begin with, finally got kicked in the nuts one too many times. C/D?
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:10PM (#34377584) Journal

      The Cold War is a good example; the US spent a relatively small amount arming the terrorists in Afghanistan, forcing the USSR to spend a lot more to maintain their occupation. Similarly, the Star Wars project (in spite of being a complete failure as a real weapons system) forced the USSR to spend huge amounts on launch capability to be able to be sure of getting missiles past the (nonexistent) shield.

      Wars have been won and lost because of economics for a long time though. Napoleon understood this when he said that an army marches on its stomach - the supply chain can lose a war just as easily as enemy action.

      One of the examples that's now used when teaching this stuff is a brief engagement from the last Golf War, when an Apache helicopter popped up over a hill, sighted a convoy, and destroyed it. The convoy was made of trucks worth, maybe, $20K each. The missiles that the Apache fired cost upwards of $100K each. Who won the engagement? It really depends on what was in the trucks, but it's most probable that the result was that the US losses were more expensive, in spite of the fact that they destroyed the the enemy and returned home with no casualties.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by olsmeister (1488789)

        One of the examples that's now used when teaching this stuff is a brief engagement from the last Golf War

        Insert $TIGER_WOODS_JOKE here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NoSig (1919688)
        That may be a good deal for the US if their budget is larger than the other side's. If their budget is 10x, then actions of destroying y enemy resources at 9y cost will still win them the war.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Achra (846023)

        the US spent a relatively small amount arming the terrorists in Afghanistan, forcing the USSR to spend a lot more to maintain their occupation.

        Don't forget what that got us, though. That man that we placed on the cover of Time Magazine, that man that our president said was "The Moral equivalent of our founding fathers".. That man orchestrated an attack on our country that destroyed the world trade center and killed an astonishing number of our countrymen one fall morning. Terrorism: Theirs and Ours [sangam.org]

      • by pjtp (533932) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:48PM (#34380282) Homepage

        ...a brief engagement from the last Golf War...

        ahhh... I remember when it use to be a peaceful sport.

  • by ADRA (37398) on Monday November 29, 2010 @02:59PM (#34377424)

    1. Get hired as a sales rep at a major security systems vendor
    2. Find a flimsy but potential hole in the current security process of a given country (hopefully a reactive country that only fights fires when they're on their doorstep)
    3. Start developing a solution for said problem
    4. Hire a shady business person loosely associated with a criminal or terrorist group to orchestrate an 'act of terror' using said exploit and offer $10mil for 'security consulting' or the like
    5. Start knocking on doors about selling your newly developed product
    6. Wait
    7. Reap the billions the gov will throw at you to make their latest problem go away

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:00PM (#34377444)
    I applaud Bruce for railing against it, and Marcus Ranum too in his even more pointed criticism in his books. But what they are railing against is the military industrial complex, and their complaints have as much power as Eisenhower's at the end of his term, when he cautioned the American people not to let it take over.

    Too. Late.


    Guys like Richard Clarke write books about the upcoming CyberWar, they are abetted by Chinese BGP attacks that they couldn't be more thrilled about, because they have founded security firms that are already lobbying on K Street. Wake up. This is big business and the Blackwaterization of airports, the internet, the highways, it's begun and it won't stop. Not when the MSNBC poll is running 75-25 in favor of classifying Julian Assante a terrorist.


    Poor Daniel Ellsberg, living long enough to see all his pentagon paper work undone in broad brushstrokes. Nixon didn't live to see the American security state flourish, he'd have been flush with joy had he lived. He and Charles Colson would have danced a little jig with Henry Kissinger, the merry assassins of democracy were simply ahead of their time.
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:12PM (#34377614) Homepage
      Indeed. The problem, as always, is that we need an 'enemy'. Since the Soviet Union did us a disservice my collapsing in the 1990's the powers that be needed to find a convenient one. China? Maybe - but we are locked in an economic menage-a-tois with China, Europe and Japan (OK, that's four). We can snipe at the Chinese, just as one would do with their lover, but dissolving the relationship is going to be really hard.

      Terrorists, especially Muslim terrorists, are just absolutely perfect in this regard.

      Their religion is just different enough to be offensive, their culture is different enough to be offensive and they do some truly offensive things (think behavior towards women). They're small enough to never really be a threat but large enough to act like one. They have their own bat-shit insane actors (think Kadafi and Ahmadinejad). They dress funny. They talk funny. They don't like alcohol and dogs.

      Just the perfect balance between being different and truly dangerous and many of them don't particularly like us.

      We have always been at war with Islam (which is actually a pretty accurate statement in a number of ways). Now if they would just develop a credible space program ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fredjh (1602699)

      It's not the military industrial complex anymore, it's the politico-legal-media complex [goo.gl]. Fear sells.

      "State of Fear" was widely decried as an anti-global warming spiel by Michael Crichton, but it was more about how politicians and the media use fear to sell us their product. It had some lame dialog, but it was a good book.

  • Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:02PM (#34377464)

    The simple answer is to stop wasting money on shit like this. Something that kills less people per year than farm animals is not something to be wasting money on. When the towers fell we should have rebuilt them 10 stories taller, and locked the cockpit door. That should have been the end of that. Instead we waste money on ineffective security and act like a bunch of Nancys.

    • Agreed. Im more afraid of US citizens than terrorists. I hear gun shots and have my car broken into every so often in my neighborhood. Then theres the hobo's everywhere that you never know if they will try to mug you. The police will never respond in time for a crisis and it was ruled fairly recently in court that police have no responsibility to protect you, only to investigate crimes. Meanwhile, people bitch about our right to own guns which essentially protects against this sort of thing. Yep. America is
      • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:53PM (#34378246) Homepage

        Then theres the hobo's everywhere that you never know if they will try to mug you.

        Meanwhile, people bitch about our right to own guns which essentially protects against this sort of thing.

        The first quote explains, to an extent, why the second quote happens. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge gun control guy. I often question the usefulness of carrying a gun for the majority of people (I really don't think most people have any reasonable chance to employ a concealed weapon in most attack scenarios without getting themselves killed), but I don't question your right to do so... most of the time. Then I see stuff like this and I wonder if maybe taking away everyone's guns and giving them a blankey isn't a good idea.

        Surely you must see that you are reacting to the same fear as the anti-terrorism security theater people are? The fear that some unknown "other" is going to do bad things to you for no other reason than they are different and often less fortunate? You're also reacting in exactly the same way, grabbing onto something that makes you feel like you'll be better able to protect yourself whether it'll be effective or not. A gun is not a self defense panacea. It will not protect you from "hobos" by itself. It's a tool. If you spend the necessary hours (and hours and hours) to learn to use it properly, it has some usefulness in some self defense situations. I'm not talking about a gun safety course and a few hours on the range making sure you can hit the broad side of a barn... I'm talking man-days spent working draw and fire drills, accuracy on moving targets, and accuracy while moving yourself. Plus knowing when to use these things so the guy with the already drawn weapon or his backup in the shadows don't blow you away before you accomplish anything.

        Of course even if you spend the time to do it right, you're still just learning all this stuff and carrying the weapon in reaction your fear, the same as the guy who submits to the strip search is reacting to his fear of terrorist. So now we have a scared guy with a gun walking down the street waiting for the first "hobo" to act suspiciously enough to let him use it. Great. It's nearly enough to make me become a 'huge gun control guy". It really is.

    • by pspahn (1175617) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:16PM (#34377704)

      Simple, yes. Politically tricky? Obviously.

      I think there are legitimate reasons why security is so important now, but really, the shotgun approach just doesn't scale well. Add in the bureaucractic overhead and we're looking at massive investments for little return.

      Hell, if you're gonna go so spend crazy, at least get the shit sponsored with ads or something. If you grope me at the airport, at least tell me it has been brought to me by Trojan condoms, and pass out a free sample.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Antisyzygy (1495469)
        Or just make it a requirement that TSA agents must be attractive and scantily clad and you pick your preferred sex.
        • by powerlord (28156)

          Or just make it a requirement that TSA agents must be attractive and scantily clad and you pick your preferred sex.

          Wish I could mod you "Insightful", consider this a Virtual Mod Point. :D

        • by bugi (8479)

          That'll get not just the Islamic radicals bent all out of shape, but the rest of the social conservative lunatics as well. Excellent idea, but I think that and more are already available for those with sufficiently large incomes to qualify for State bailouts.

    • Let's not forget about the expensive war that will result in a much safer nation. ;D
    • Something that kills less people per year than farm animals is not something to be wasting money on.

      That's right. What we really need to do is divert those resources to where they're most desperately needed, in the global struggle against violent farm animals. The U.S. has very few strategic resources devoted to the real threats; we waste money on TSA body searches while our strategic cow-tipping arsenals decay. If we're not careful we will soon be living George Orwell's nightmare.

    • by Syberz (1170343)

      [...] and act like a bunch of Nancys.

      I've always wondered, who it Nancy and how exactly did she act and why?

    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:58PM (#34378314)

      "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm afraid that you've misunderstood.

      "We are the United States of America. We are the most powerful country that has ever existed in the history of this planet. We spend more on the opening weekend of a movie than most countries have as the entire GDP. We provide trade or aid to every country on the planet, be it friend or foe.

      And for that, we have been attacked. Thousands of American citizens -- not soldiers, just people going to work -- were killed by murderers who seek only to sow chaos and have us go to their countries and destroy it from without. We could."

      *pause for a sip of coffee*

      "With no more effort than a drink of coffee, I could destroy any country and make it unlivable for man or bug forever. But I won't because you don't hurt children that don't know any better. What we are going to do is find you, the men responsible for this, and bring you to trial for murder. If you are found guilty you will be put to death in a sterile, clean, and merciful fashion. You will not be martyred. We are offering a bounty of $100 million dollars plus US citizen status for information leading to arrest. That is enough money to literally buy Muslim paradise for the rest of your life.

      "What else we will do is rebuild these towers and the pentagon, and do so by the end of this year. Your master stroke will be erased and you will have nothing to show for it. The best you can do, and we will erase it and move on. We will not seek revenge on those near you; just on you. In a year, who will even believe you?

      Ladies and Gentlemen, we have work to do."

      -- speech given in another universe; September 12, 2001.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by brit74 (831798)

        We are offering a bounty of $100 million dollars plus US citizen status for information leading to arrest. That is enough money to literally buy Muslim paradise for the rest of your life.

        You know that the US offered bounties on a lot of the jihandis, right? Bin Laden has a $25 million bounty on his head, and he's still not caught:
        "The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lennier (44736)

        you will be put to death ... You will not be martyred.

        Unless you're planning on using a Schroedinger Box as the execution method, there's a slight contradiction between those two statements.

  • Terrorists hurt taxpayers but all the terrorism related expenses go to some contractors. Money to rebuild, to cure disease, to scan people at the airport and so on.

    So basically all 9/11 terrorism did was transfer wealth to the capitalists, create a casus belli for american involvement in the middle east. And getting a large numbers of people killed. Mostly innocent. Way to go.
    Terrorism has won, just as it always did since the French revolution, not terrorists.

    Terrorism will always win unless a terror act i

  • In both cases, you are attacked, and you have costs.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:18PM (#34377736)
    There are places on the internet [typepad.com] where smart people think very hard about issues like this. It turns out that the most effective terrorism is inspired by Open Source Software models, where sharing and reuse of common components improves efficiency. (It's not so strange to think of the Kalashnikov or a bomb detonator design as a piece of code.) The goal of terrorists is to de-legitimize national governments by causing them to weaken or collapse. Then, non-state entities can find a niche in the vacuum left behind. They've been incredibly effective in Mexico, Nigeria and many other places. Giant powers like the USA and the USSR are much harder beast to take down, but clearly, there is precedent.
  • Even when they're unsuccessful, they cost us billions in security countermeasures.

    That seems to be a textbook example of "successful terrorism."

    The objective is only "body count" when talking to asshole politicians trying to sell their scared-shitless cluster-fuck as a Good Thing(TM).

  • by eepok (545733) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:26PM (#34377860) Homepage

    Has there actually been any major war or conflict in which terrorism hasn't been used in place of costly head-on campaigns? Demoralization of the opposite side's citizenry and the invoking of fear in one's opponent's lower ranks is a standard tactic in every battle and war... especially if at least one side is low on bodies/resources.

    We could do the same in the "War on Terror" if we wished. Hell, we just may be, but the public may not know about it.

    However, I don't necessarily agree with the quote "They cost us billions in countermeasures." That shifts the purchasing responsibility onto a /tactic/ instead of a person who signs the supply and service requisitions. It is an active choice to spend any dollar as a response to terrorism. If those "countermeasures" are actually kick-backs or unethical methods of funding a friend's business, did terrorism cause that fraud? No. It's an action of man.

    "So random poster, you seem to be suggesting that we're spending too much on fighting terrorism... is that what you're saying?"

    No, not really. I think we're spending too much money NOT fighting terrorism. Or, to say it another way, I think we're spending too much money on things that will not rationally reduce the chance of anti-US terrorism.

    "WTF?"

    STFU and let me explain. We spend billions on creating pain and suffering. Terrorists recruit those who have been affected by (directly or indirectly) that pain and suffering. Suddenly there's more money and bodies for terrorism. So the US spends more money on creating pain and suffering... etc. You see the problem. Hearts and minds have not been won. Only hate and derision.

    Direct investment in schools (secular AND religious), infrastructure, non-narcotic agricultural income sources, cultural heritage centers (years before Chase Credit and McDonalds, please) -- these are all ways to spend the money that will not increase the terrorist recruitment causes. Oh, and don't charge a dime for it. Make sure it's a gift. There's no use in doing good with the intent of reducing terrorism if the people are on the tab for all the "good" you're doing.

    With stronger education, reinforced cultural roots, non-controversial sources of income, the people themselves will begin to take politics into their own hands. It's a ~40 year process, but that's how people change... one generation at a time.

    But these aren't profitable ventures. War is much more profitable. Responding to terrorism, as the article shows, is much more profitable. And we value the economy over all other things in America, today.

  • Everybody at DHS and TSA -- heck, everybody in the government or who votes for somebody in the government -- should read Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wasp-Eric-Frank-Russell/dp/0575070951 [amazon.com]

    It's about a spy whose job is to do exactly what Al Qaeda is doing to us. If people read it and discussed it, maybe they'd see how this sort of thing is supposed to work, and exactly how perfectly we're falling for it.

  • Granted that TSA has gotten over-zealous, and the naked-picture scanners are way over the top, but these things seem due for correction.

    The more important thing is a long-term goal and policy of promoting self-representation and local justice in the world as a whole (and this should be done at the expense of working w/ governments which don't allow such). Now that the world isn't strongly divided into camps defined by the Cold War, the U.S. needs to make case-by-case decisions, choosing whom to work with on

  • hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:49PM (#34378198)

    I've always thought terrorists could get a lot more bang for their buck by using much less extravagant means. You don't need to crash a jet into a building; just replicate the D.C. sniper from a few years ago across 50 different U.S. cities. Target local government officials, police officers, women, children, etc. All you need is to get some guys with marksmanship training into the country then get some high-powered rifles into their hands. Instruct them to take their own lives if capture is imminent. I have a feeling this tactic would go a lot further towards "instilling fear" in the U.S. populace on a day-to-day basis than the plane crashing thing.

  • Peter Ustinov (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) * <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:58PM (#34378322) Homepage Journal
    "Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich."

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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