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Terror Watch List Swells to More Than 755,000 512

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-list-you-don't-want-to-be-on dept.
rdavison writes "According to a USA Today story, the terror watch list has swollen to 755,000 with 200,000 people per year being added since 2004. Adding about 548 people daily every day of the year does not seem to lend itself to a manual process with careful deliberation given or double checking being done for each person added. It seems to suggests that data is being mined from somewhere to automatically add names to the list."
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Terror Watch List Swells to More Than 755,000

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @07:58AM (#21111467) Homepage Journal
    Surely it would be quicker to make an Anti-Terror list of people who are allowed to fly.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:42AM (#21113515)
      No, that would be letting the terrorists off the hook. What we should do is put everybody* on the list - that's the only way to be sure.

      (*everybody except politicians and rich people, since they're vital to national security and economic welfare).

      • Re:wasting time (Score:5, Interesting)

        by superpulpsicle (533373) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @11:49AM (#21114587)
        While you joke about it. This is how every totalitarian government starts. They label some group that needs to be eliminated, and courage citizens to help wipe them off the face of the earth. Usually after awhile that group becomes more famous, more well known and more powerful. Before you know it everyone is on the list and the groups becomes blurred. And you eventually don't know what side you are on.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Skevin (16048)
        So, that big half-white, half-yellow book my phone company gives me every year isn't the Terror Watch List for my local neighborhood? Could've fooled me.

        Solomon
  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:01AM (#21111483) Homepage

    As the Glasgow "terrorists" so brilliantly displayed, anybody can be a terrorist. All it takes is a car, a bunch of primitive explosive, flammable material and the motivation to endanger human life.

    In my view, after September 11th the United States should have responded by doing one thing: Passing regulations that ensure that the cockpits of passenger aircraft are unable to be accessed from the passenger carrying part of the plane.

    That's a proportionate response to the threat.

    In reality, the terrorist threat is a several orders of a magnitude less than being killed by heart-disease. It's my view that in any problem solving situation, you should seek to solve the worst problem first and the smallest problem last.

    The problem from where I'm sitting is that billions are being spent on a tiny fraction of deaths that occur in our countries. Where are the billions of dollars of funding to research heart-disease treatment, improving car safety, cancer treatments or the plethora of other much more likely ways you'll meet your sticky end?

    What makes this irrational reaction so much worse is that we're selling our rights down the river for a false sense of security. If somebody passes me in the street and decides they want to kill me, there is nothing the long-arm of the state can do to stop them. I will likely die and the fact the person who killed me will spend a considerable time in prison is of little solace.

    There are enough nut cases in the world to ensure that the chances of being killed in such a fashion are always going to be none zero. We all choose to walk about the street with our heads held high because we're not going to let that threat intimidate us. So why are we being intimidated by nutters who want to kill not just one person but quite a few of us?

    It reminds me of the story of an elderly women in Warrington interviewed just after the IRA bomb detonated there, killing a young boy. The reporter asked why she was still shopping despite a bomb going off and she defiantly replied: "The Germans didn't stop me shopping so the Irish certainly won't."

    Defiance is not giving away your freedom. Defiance is refusing to give away your freedom even if you life is at risk. We only need to look at those brave monks in Burma a few weeks ago to see what real defiance looks like. We've lost our back-bone and passed all sorts of onerous laws because we're afraid. We're pathetic and afraid.

    When are we going to stand up and say - "To hell with stupid incompetent security. I want my freedom and I want it now."

    Simon

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Germans didn't stop me shopping so the Irish certainly won't

      But the Arabs do, and I'm offended by the insinuation that Arabs are more intimidating than Germans!
    • by Algorithmnast (1105517) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:14AM (#21111593)

      In reality, the terrorist threat is a several orders of a magnitude less than being killed by heart-disease. It's my view that in any problem solving situation, you should seek to solve the worst problem first and the smallest problem last.

      So... I should turn in Ronald McDonald to Homeland Security??

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        So... I should turn in Ronald McDonald to Homeland Security?
        Yes, please do. He scares me.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by unitron (5733)

          So... I should turn in Ronald McDonald to Homeland Security?
          Yes, please do. He scares me.

          He may be a little scary, but that frozen-faced Burger King in their TV ads just plain creeps me out. The only thing that makes me faster to reach for the remote is any mention whatsoever of Donald Trump.

    • As the Glasgow "terrorists" so brilliantly displayed, anybody can be a terrorist.



      Then let's thank God and the powers that be for the terrorist watch list (TWL), because anybody can be on it !

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Thank you for speaking up.
      Your name and IP has been added to the list.

      - NSA
    • by arivanov (12034) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:20AM (#21111655) Homepage
      Yep.

      One of the primary criteria of terrorist success is to "succeed in spreading fear into the population". By that criteria the terrorists have clearly won against our governments on every single count.

      There is still some hope that they have not won against the general population in at least some parts of the country. There are still some John Smeatons around to "kick em in the bawls".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        One of the primary criteria of terrorist success is to "succeed in spreading fear into the population". By that criteria the terrorists have clearly won against our governments on every single count.
        Is this really the case in the US? I can undestand having a fear of a cavity search from the TSA boys, but an actual fear of being "gotten" somehow by actual terrorists? Seriously?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by logru (909550)
          Read GP post again. They've won against the government. You could say that by proxy they have won since people are now afraid of their own governments.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One of the primary criteria of terrorist success is to "succeed in spreading fear into the population". By that criteria the terrorists have clearly won against our governments on every single count.

        By that criteria, it is the governments that are the terrorists.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tom (822)

        One of the primary criteria of terrorist success is to "succeed in spreading fear into the population". By that criteria the terrorists have clearly won against our governments on every single count.
        Wrong.

        By that criteria, the government is the terrorists.

        It most definitely isn't working against them. Rather the opposite.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by djmurdoch (306849)
      It's my view that in any problem solving situation, you should seek to solve the worst problem first and the smallest problem last.

      That's not a good strategy. You don't go for the biggest fruit first, you go for the low hanging fruit. (You can choose the worst problem among the easy ones if you like, but don't ignore the easy ones because they're not as bad as the hard ones.)

      From the point of view of Homeland Security, they're much more likely to be successful at stopping terrorist attacks than they would
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by anonicon (215837)
        From the point of view of Homeland Security, they're much more likely to be successful at stopping terrorist attacks than they would be at curing heart disease. You're right that their measure of success is bizarre, but under that measure, what they're doing is working.

        Um, what?

        http://www.cnn.com/2007/TRAVEL/10/18/airport.screeners [cnn.com]
    • by Erris (531066) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:28AM (#21111723) Homepage Journal

      Terrorist watch lists punish people without trial. They are deeply unAmerican and are a direct violation of your right to due process. It is time to end this madness and call those who support it what they are, traitors.

      Amendment V
      No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

      These proscriptions deprive people of their liberty and property. Those on the lists are unable to use air transport, may be discriminated against when they seek employment and are harassed generally when they conduct business. In short, they are treated as a kind of felon. Needless to say, there's no jury involved before the conviction of "terrorist" is applied.

    • by Khomar (529552) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:33AM (#21111759) Journal
      If this trend of losing liberties concerns you, I suggest you research Ron Paul [ronpaul2008.com] and his positions. He is the only Republican candidate who is committed to reducing the government regulations and protecting personal liberties. The others all seem intent on continuing down the same path G.W. Bush has been, and the leading Democrats do not look much better.
      • I'll Play (Score:4, Informative)

        by vague_ascetic (755456) <va AT impietease DOT com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @11:16AM (#21114075) Homepage Journal

        See. here's the deal, sport; I am a long time registered libertarian, and have at times in the past been very active within the LP Party. I am one of the few who can honestly state that I voted for Paul to be President in 1988. I have also researched Paul, and have discovered that he is no longer a REAL Libertarian, nor would his policies lead "to reducing the government regulations and protecting personal liberties".

        I feel that defining Paul as a "libertarian" almost reaches to the level of being personally defamatory. His campaign statements are oppositional to at least four of the Libertarian Party's Platform Planks:

        I will expound upon this as I offer up evidence of Paul's less than unyielding defense of both liberty and The US Constitution by analysing a few of his proposed Bills and Resolutions in Congress this year.

        H.J.RES.46: [loc.gov] Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to deny United States citizenship to individuals born in the United States to parents who are neither United States citizens nor persons who owe permanent allegiance to the United States.

        Constitutional Amendment - States that a person born to a mother and father, neither of whom is a citizen of the United States nor a person who owes permanent allegiance to the United States, shall not be a citizen of the United States or of any state solely by reason of U.S. birth.

        Paul's whole anti-immigrant posturing is both anti-libertarian, and counter to the original Intents of This Nation's founding. If you are opposed to non-American born residents in the U.S., that is one thing, but DO NOT attempt to foist off this belief as "protecting personal liberties", as it hinders the personal liberty of many, who are just looking for a better life. It is facially opposed to The LPs Immigration plank too. This proposed Constitutional Amendment would go even farther, and would withhold citizenship from even humans born within The Nation's Border.

        H.R.193: [loc.gov] To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make higher education more affordable by providing a full tax deduction for higher education expenses and interest on student loans.

        Make College Affordable Act of 2007 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow taxpayers, their spouses, dependents, and grandchildren a tax deduction from gross income for certain higher education expenses and for interest on certain student loans. Includes as higher education expenses undergraduate tuition and fees and reasonable living expenses while attending an institution of higher education.

        H.R.1056: [loc.gov] To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals a credit against income tax for tuition and related expenses for public and nonpublic elementary and secondary education.

        Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax credit of up to $5,000 (adjusted for inflation after 2007) per student per year for the cost of attendance at any educational institution (including any private, parochial, religious, or home school) organized to provide elementary or secondary education, or both.
        [loc.gov]
        H.R.1057: To amend th

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Khomar (529552)

          First, it should be noted that Ron Paul does not himself claim to be a true Libertarian as he recognizes that many of his positions are contrary to the standard Libertarian platform.

          Paul's whole anti-immigrant posturing is both anti-libertarian, and counter to the original Intents of This Nation's founding. If you are opposed to non-American born residents in the U.S., that is one thing, but DO NOT attempt to foist off this belief as "protecting personal liberties", as it hinders the personal liberty of ma

    • by ozbird (127571)
      As the Glasgow "terrorists" so brilliantly displayed, anybody can be a terrorist. All it takes is a car, a bunch of primitive explosive, flammable material and the motivation to endanger human life.

      As Australia, California and other fire-prone areas show, anybody with a box of matches can be a terrorist.
    • by BigDogCH (760290)
      That sounds like Tear-wrist speak!

      Welcome to the list my friend.

      "In my view, after September 11th the United States should have responded by doing one thing: Passing regulations that ensure that the cockpits of passenger aircraft are unable to be accessed from the passenger carrying part of the plane."

      I agree entirely. This is the best thing I have read on slashdot in a long time. Sadly however, humans fight with emotion, not logic.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:16AM (#21112315)
      You presume that the goal of the Bush administration is security. The Bush administration's response to 9-11 had NOTHING to do with terrorists or stopping them and EVERYTHING to do with Dick Cheney and the neocon's long-held goal of dismantling the post-Nixon restrictions placed on the Presidency and overthrowing Saddam Hussein (to open up lucrative oil development contracts that American oil companies were prevented from accepting under Saddam).

      9-11 wasn't a wake-up call for the administration. It was an excuse.

    • In reality, the terrorist threat is a several orders of a magnitude less than being killed by heart-disease. It's my view that in any problem solving situation, you should seek to solve the worst problem first and the smallest problem last.

      The problem from where I'm sitting is that billions are being spent on a tiny fraction of deaths that occur in our countries. Where are the billions of dollars of funding to research heart-disease treatment, improving car safety, cancer treatments or the plethora of othe

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:02AM (#21111491) Journal
    Just add everyone, then implement a whitelist instead. We can issue travel papers and everything, it'll be great.
  • Hm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gorimek (61128) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:03AM (#21111493) Homepage
    On average, 548 people join Slashdot every day.

    Coincidence?
  • ...by monitoring "websites" where "subversives" discuss and criticize the "government". Not unlike this one, really...
    • by polar red (215081)
      oh ... so when i say something like "The bush administration consists of a band of egocentric, selfserving bastards" i get on the list ?
    • If that's true, then they have the world's strangest list. "I'm sorry, Mr. Goatse guy, but you aren't allowed to fly. In fact, we're going to have to perform a cavity search. {unzip} Hmm, this'll be easy."
  • by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:05AM (#21111511) Homepage
    Its McCarthyism all over again, report your friends, family, and neighbors to the Un-American Activities Committee if you see anything suspicious! And I'm sure this is just as effective as McCarthyism was. We don't have the man power or money to monitor roughly .25% of the population. At $750 per month for a wiretap thats $566 million per month if we were to wiretap all these people.
  • by stinerman (812158) <`nathan.stine' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:07AM (#21111515) Homepage
    If there are 755,000 terrorists in the USA, we're already dead.

    What do you want to bet the false positive rate on that is? 99%? That's still 7,000. 99.9%? That still seems a bit high.
    If your false positive rate is that high, then why even have a list at all?
    • "It's irresponsible not to have one."

      Well, at least that's what *some* people would have you think.
      • We have the Most Wanted List. That's good enough for me.

        Unless you're being formally charged or investigated for a crime (ie. there's a legally-issued warrant), the government has no business doing this behind our backs.

        But seriously. If there really were 755,000 "terrorists" in our midst, such a high level of dissent should be a pretty clear indication that the government is doing something seriously wrong to be pissing off that many people.
    • Don't forget if I am some kind of suspect and they have me on a no flying list I'm going to either cut all contact from everyone involved or I'm going to go "alright then" and go out all guns blazing the next day. It's pretty much one huge ass warning sign glowing neon green in the middle of a desert at night. You can't miss this stuff and these days it's not even like they haven't secured planes or at least claimed to be doing so.
    • by Tsiangkun (746511) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:59AM (#21112073) Homepage
      This list is about getting people comfortable with the idea of having to carry their papers, and adjusted to the idea of being denied access because their name is on a list.

      Like was hinted at in the summary, I suspect this list is receiving very little human curating. My gut instinct says the names represent a 'social network' so many degrees of separation from the 'terrorists'.

      I fear the 'terrorist' watch list is only the beginning. Soon we may have a 'child molester' watch list of equal accuracy, or 'gang', 'drug', 'psycho', 'medical' etc.
  • One in 400 Americans is a Terrorist. You don't want to be a terrorist... do you? [shot of some guy going to the mall with his family] CONSUMERISM. My Anti-Terror.
    • One in 400 Americans is a Terrorist. You don't want to be a terrorist... do you?
      It wasn't so long ago that the United States of America was wrestled from Great Britain by "terrorists".
  • USA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:11AM (#21111559) Homepage
    God bless America....No, seriously...

    I threw the figures from the article into OO Calc quickly. It seems the rise is quite linear, and the total additions per year increasing somewhat from May 2005. Anything significant happen during May 2005 and 2007? :)
  • Let's just put everyone on the terror watch list and dispense with the mind games.
  • by Britz (170620) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:17AM (#21111615) Homepage
    "Wow, Ed got 20 this week, I gotta get more to stay in the game and get the promotion."
  • by Ed Almos (584864) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:18AM (#21111627)
    Assuming a population of six billion on the planet that means that 1 in 8000 is on the watchlist. That's a lot of terrorists.

    Ed Almos
  • by darthflo (1095225) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:20AM (#21111649)
    So that's what happens to all those people posting words like "Terrorist", "Bomb", "Bin Laden", "9/11", "Echelon" on Slashdot and all over the intertubes. Luckily I don't do that kinda stuff.
  • by chrish (4714) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:26AM (#21111707) Homepage
    So, in 175 years or so, 100% of the population of the United States will be on this secret list. I wonder if they'll have a process for getting off the list by then.

    The airlines are going to be pissed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's pretty clear there will never be a process for removing names from the list or auditing the list.

      However, if you Americans elect Ron Paul as president, the list will just disappear altogether, along with the secret military prisons and the warrantless wiretaps.

    • Re:growth industry (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:20AM (#21112343)
      The airlines are going to be pissed.

            Why? They'll still charge you for a ticket, even if they don't let you on the plane. Refund? Sorry we don't refund to "terrorists"...
  • by brown-eyed slug (913910) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:29AM (#21111729) Homepage

    the terror watch list has swollen to 755,000 with 200,000 people per year being added since 2004
    It's the new social networking sensation!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:32AM (#21111757)
    First name on the list: Archibald Buttle, then Archibald Tuttle...
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:39AM (#21111809)
    Aren't there more Democrats than that in this country?
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:40AM (#21111835) Homepage

    Do we get the significance of that? The list is of names, not individuals. Remember Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy's little problem with the list? [washingtonpost.com]. Or how about this vicious 4 year old terrorist [blogspot.com]?

    God help you if your name is John Smith, but it's probably even worse if your name is Mohammed or a variant of it. Oh, wait a second; most Islamic men's legal birth name is Mohammed.

    If you want to fly without hinderance, you should probably just go ahead and change your legal name to your social security number, as it's the only way you're likely to get a unique one.

  • by OneDeeTenTee (780300) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:46AM (#21111903)
    Is there some easy and legal way to get on the list or to put other people on it?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:47AM (#21111907) Journal
    There is a lot of variability in the English spellings of foreign names. Abdul, Abdhul, Abdulla, Abdhulla, Abdhullah ... Further why would the terrorist consistently use the same name and same spelling all the time? In fact in Introduction to Evasive Techniques 101 taught in PIT (Pakistani Institute of Terrorism, West Campus, Madarassabad, Quetta, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan) first lesson, is creating a new identity for each nefarious activity the terrorist do. Sometimes for no reason at all other than to practice juggling multiple identities.

    This TWL and the various hues of Terror Alert (today it is brilliant opalescent blue alert level!) are activities done by the Government to show that it is doing something. The logic behind it is not much deeper than, "We need to do something, this is something, so we are doing it."

  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:54AM (#21112025) Homepage Journal
    You know how there is a crisis in the copyright system because our successful and longstanding system of copyright laws is based on the assumption that copying is too hard for casual infringement?

    Well there is another crisis going on that hasn't got nearly the same attention: The laws that protect our fundamental liberties are based on the assumption that suspicion is too hard to sustain for it to be used casually.

    Generally speaking, placing somebody under suspicion and investigating that person is not considered a deprivation of liberty. In fact you can't have a functioning criminal legal system without suspicion and investigation, and generally the question of reasonableness isn't applied to the manner under which somebody falls under suspicion, but the manner in which the investigation is undertaken.

    Suspicion and surveillance are not considered tantamount to punishment, because they are assumed to be temporary conditions. It's expensive (so the argument goes) to focus suspicion on somebody; if the suspicion is not productive, then the government surely must move its attention elsewhere, for it must have bigger fish to fry.

    But what if there is a machine to the suspecting for the government? Furthermore, suppose the main expense is acquiring and maintaining the machine, and the marginal cost of adding more human grist to the mill is zero? Misplaced suspicion is no longer an inconvenience that one must bear occasionally as part of achieving a lower crime rate. It is quite feasible to make suspicion and detailed scrutiny a permament feature of someone's life. Furthermore, this can be done at no additional cost to the government, and it will surely catch at least a few additional miscreants. The entire system can operate without human effort, except to do things like additional pat downs at the airport. Many of those things are simply utilizing slack resources.

    In the case of copyright, the government has given tools to private parties like the RIAA that, funded by deep pockets, can enforce and extend their economic interests. Where are the corresponding legal tools for the individual permamently and unjustly accused?

    Society is divided into two groups: those who think technology is like magic, and those who understand how technology works. Of those who understand technology, some have a financial interest in technology being used more; some are simply so manifestly paranoid they have no credibility; and many, many more treat thinking about these issues as a boring waste of time. Unfortunately, big changes are coming, and in this case the paranoid people are right: they're the only one who have even considered that the changes that are coming might not be what we want.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:16AM (#21112321) Homepage

    There is oversight and regulations of even a completely private thing like an individual's credit history. Banks can not simply claim: "we don't like this guy" — there are laws regulating, what records can be kept, and procedures allowing people to dispute inaccuracies.

    The "terror list", which, allegedly, is used to not simply cause extra scrutiny, but to also deny boarding sometimes, is maintained by the (Executive) government and is in sore need of similar regulations. As a minimum, one must be able to inquire, whether he or she are on the list and to challenge the placing both in administrative proceedings or in courts.

  • by kcdoodle (754976) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:31AM (#21112501)
    The biggest reason there have been no hijackings is that WE SAW WHAT HAPPENED ON 9/11.

    Do you really think any hijacker would stand a chance on a plane anymore?

    I know that I would rip the tray table off of the seat in front of me and use it as a weapon against any terrorist activity on a plane. Sure I would probably die, but doing nothing, I would probably die as anyway.

    The bad guys know this. They know they cannot get control of the plane as long as one person is still alive. That is why there have been no hijackings, we would rather die fighting than cowering.

  • by kalirion (728907) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:07AM (#21112947)
    Otherwise all those people would be shot dead as soon as they tried to book a flight.
  • Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by scubamage (727538) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:23AM (#21113197)
    But wait, I thought the pubbies kept saying that they're only watching people who need to be watched, and are sticking to the law!? You mean the government is lying? I can't believe that! No way! I wish I knew why the heck people can't dig their heads out of the sand and realize what the hell is going on... do people just not realize how perilously close we are to living in the orwellian future forecast by 1984? Cameras are everywhere in the UK and soon in the US, unmanned spyplanes doing thousands of runs per day over our countries, arrests being made based on information garnered from satellites, every conversation is being monitored, people are being held without habeas corpus because the governments are creating black-bagging legal grey areas, fighting a war that can't possibly be won and using it as an attempt to unify and pacify your body-politic... its terrifying. Yet it seems like only a few people realize it. I just want my free frontal lobotomy so I don't have to care about it anymore.
  • by krunk7 (748055) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @11:51AM (#21114643)

    Position is that I fail to see a significant moral difference between crashing a plane of passengers and handing out sanctions that only serve to starve the poor, young, old, and sick except that one takes a few thousand lives and the other may be counted in the millions.

    Perhaps instead of focusing on the belief that "they are evil, plain and simple and must be extinguished" and forming our (very expensive) policies around this extremely simplistic view we should be asking ourselves "why do so many people want us dead so badly?". This is not to suggest that the blame lies on the victims of terrorism, but perhaps a change in our destructive, aggressive, and state sanctioned terrorism of 3rd world nations might wittle down the shear numbers of people who view us as evil.

    For example, infant mortality has increased six-fold since 1990 in Iraq and 32% of children under 5 are malnourished. facts & myths (with citations) [leb.net]. Impacts on Iraq population since 1990 have been devastating.

    There's no doubt Saddam was a classic "mad dictator", but only in his wildest dreams could he have effected the level of destruction seen over the past 17 years. Further, despite our beliefs that Iraq was a backwards nation full of dolts the population used be quite educated by global standards with literacy rates reaching the upper 80 percent. A good portion of the pop is quite aware of the US's (Rumsfield and the first Bush administration's) contribution to Saddams domination by supplying the tools needed to carry out his attacks against certain sections of the population and Iran.

    I am not defending the actions of terrorists in any way, but we're making it pretty damned easy for various groups to attract new recruits.

  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:36PM (#21122293) Homepage
    The state knows that "everybody is guilty of something" - so they just put everybody on a "Watch List".

    It doesn't matter that the "Watch List" is useless as an actual "Watch List". It's useful because at any time, for any reason, that some state official wants to mess with you, they can say, "You're on the Watch List."

    It's a control mechanism. It has absolutely nothing to do with "terrorism", just like the TSA and the rest of the pointless measures they take will never, ever have any impact whatsoever on real, live terrorists whose job it is and whose training it is to get around such measures in the first place.

    Nothing the US has done since 9/11 would necessarily prevent another 9/11 - even assuming terrorists are interested in doing another 9/11. There are probably a lot of reasons an identical 9/11 hasn't occurred - reasons having nothing to do with the security measures put in place since the first one, but more to do with issues of organization, target selection, finances, redirected emphasis on other priorities, or simple disinterest. Even simple competence at pulling one off in the first place - maybe they got lucky with the first one - or more sinisterly, maybe they had help they weren't aware of to allow them to pull off the first one.

    By definition, as Rutger Hauer's character said in the movie "Nighthawks", "Remember, there is no security."

    Dick Marcinko used to say the same thing with regard to his Red Cell SEAL Team exercises. He pointed out that security organizations operate by checklists. They run down a checklist making sure everything is secure. He said that terrorists don't operate by checklists. They hit targets of opportunity. So his Team would just wait until the security organization went through the motions - then bypassed whatever security they thought they had and made their hit anyway using methods that either hadn't been considered in the first place or which stressed and actually made use of the security measures in place to bypass the security.

    Example: an alarm system. Throw rocks at it until the numerous false alarms make the security people turn it off for repair. The very security system you're using is used to bypass it.

    Doesn't mean you shouldn't have security systems. It just means you have to remember that they're only there to "keep out the riffraff." As long as your only enemies are "riffraff", they might work.

"No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it." -- C. Schulz

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