unquestionably live in a different world since 9/11. Spielberg
expresses the sentiments of millions in this brave new world
as our civil liberties and privacy are increasingly sacrificed
on the altar of security. Few would argue the need for tighter
security and better intelligence … but where are the limits?
opposite of a free and open society is a police state where
terrorists (and everyone) are suffocated by government oppression.
Out of necessity, and begrudgingly, we have little choice but
to concede that government intelligence and law enforcement
agencies must play a larger security role in our lives. That
means the balance must move a bit from a completely open society
towards a more closed one. But how far? Opinions vary widely.
lies in the fact that governments, like pendulums, always swing
too far one way, then too far back the other. Finding the proper
balance can be problematic at best and fatal at worst. This
article intends to identify the extremes of the pendulum swings
in order that we might figure out a middle ground where governments
ought to be. Like Goldilocks, we don't want our (government)
soup too hot or too cold, but just right.
Jimmy Carter was US president in the late 1970s, a major change
in emphasis was made in intelligence gathering. Instead of primary
reliance on Humint (human intelligence gathering), there
was a major shift to Elint (electronic intelligence gathering).
Spies were brought in from the cold, and primary reliance on
Elint, especially satellite eavesdropping, continued until 9/11.
On that fateful day hi-tech spy agencies realized with overwhelming
dread that bringing spies in from the cold had introduced fatal
handicaps to the successful completion of their missions. They
were suddenly flying blind in much of the Third World, and they
had been caught flat-footed by creative low-tech terrorists.
Furthermore, while Humint was on ice, global terrorism infected
the world, including cancerous al Qaeda cells in some
60 nations. 9/11 was an overdue wakeup call and catalyst for
time, all bureaucracies, government and private, outlive their
usefulness and need reinvention, replacement or closure. Unlike
private sector corporations, changing or closing a government
bureaucracy is extremely difficult because there is often no
penalty for inefficiency or failure. Bureaucrats become addicted
to taxpayer welfare and are averse to putting themselves out
of unneeded jobs. And they become slaves to systems instead
of aspiring to worthwhile jobs and goals. In government there's
rarely an earth-shattering event like 9/11 to serve as a wakeup
call for change, so government bureaucracies often live perpetual
existences of marginal use to anyone. There are exceptions to
this rule, as there are some splendid civil servants, but I'm
speaking in general.
to the unforgiving nature of their work, and unlike other government
bureaucracies, intelligence agencies and militaries do not indefinitely
survive incompetence. The US military (and to some extent NATO)
has made great strides in modernizing and reinventing itself,
beginning with Desert Storm. However, US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld
is among the few who realize that military changes of far greater
magnitude are still needed. Predictably, he has to fight pork-barrel
politicians and an entrenched military-industrial complex every
step of the way to achieve his Force Transformation.
He is the right man for that particular job.
Bush Administration clearly recognizes the need for sweeping
changes in the intelligence community. Some of the most wasteful
and unproductive action we've seen since 9/11 is the interagency
posturing, bickering and finger pointing, most notably between
the FBI and CIA. The public no longer cares about, Who
knew what? or When did they know it? They
want solutions, not blame, as they already know the ball was
dropped and are beyond caring who did it and when. Overhaul
of the intelligence community is long overdue, and the new cabinet-level
Department of Homeland Security is the Bush answer. It will
involve reorganization and consolidation of 22 federal agencies
accompanied by the usual jockeying for power and turf. But on
the one hand it was perhaps a stroke of genius to
make the Department of Homeland Security a clearinghouse for
all other Big Brother intelligence agencies. It inserts a Dad
into the fray to exercise unquestioned authority over a bunch
of bickering Big Brothers.
the other hand, creating a monstrous new federal bureaucracy
with over 169,000 employees and startup funding of $37 billion
should give taxpayers pause. Will there be a commensurate decrease
in government spending elsewhere to balance a budget already
headed for record deficits? It's doubtful, because government
bureaucracies and Congress never function in such logical fashion.
And should citizens be concerned about the massive concentration
of intelligence in a single agency with historically
unprecedented hi-tech tools at its disposal? This could be the
Mother (and Dad) of all Big Brother intelligence agencies. But
who controls the controller?
are some examples of swinging pendulums in our Brave New (post-9/11)
World along with Big Brother and privacy considerations:
There has been much emphasis on secrecy, but it was recently
discovered that sensitive, unencrypted, US military, live spy
plane photos monitoring Balkans anti-terrorist operations were
accessible to anyone with a satellite TV receiver. And a few
days ago, an Austrian teenager hacked into secret Pentagon plans
including US nuclear missile locations. It's difficult to trust
government assurances that it will protect our sensitive
personal information if it can't protect its own
vital defense information.
correctness (PC), to include racial profiling, now resides in
the realm of the absurd. It is undisputed that all nineteen
9/11 hijackers were Moslem Arabs, yet airport security people
have clear orders not to profile passengers. Al Qaeda
had no respect for racial diversity and equal opportunity when
it used only healthy, Moslem, Arab males for its suicide missions.
Such discrimination! Someone tell Ted Kennedy and the ACLU.
Meanwhile, PC airport security people cannot profile, but must
evenly target everyone, including little old Norwegian
grandmothers from Iowa who might be as dangerous (in a million
years) as an Arab passenger fitting a hijacker profile. Does
anyone in the PC world understand the basic premise that when
trying to find members of a Colombian drug cartel you should
look for Colombians?
Kontorovich, Assistant Professor of Law, George Mason University
Law School, advocates using truth serum on captive terrorists
who won't talk. He says it's akin to wiretaps and surveillance
and no more invasive than body cavity searches or polygraphs,
which are legal. Those sitting at the other end of the pendulum
knows that clever 9/11 terrorists brilliantly executed a simple
plan under the nose of intelligence agencies tuned to the wrong
frequencies and looking in the wrong direction. This was not
entirely the fault of intelligence agencies, which have been
severely curtailed for years by laws that blocked certain types
of investigation. For example, it has been illegal for the FBI
to access online research that is available to cub reporters
and salesmen. Meanwhile, reports indicate spying by foreigners
in the US, friends and foes alike, is increasing enormously.
Those opposed to granting the FBI more authority and jurisdiction
point to Waco and Ruby Ridge. CBS humorist Andy Rooney
was entirely serious recently when he said that Attorney General
John Ashcroft's rules are how dictatorships get started.
Internet Security Systems recently held a meeting on cyber security.
CEO Tom Noonan said, This is the first national security
threat the government can't handle alone. Former US Senator
Sam Nunn, a panelist, said: The critical infrastructure
of this country may be the most vulnerable to cyber attack.
Waiting for disaster to happen is not a strategy. The
panelists agreed (Washington Post, Jun 19) that fighting
cyberterrorism requires large corporations, the government,
international governments, small businesses and consumers to
work together. It's a virtual certainty that the borderless
Internet will be a future terrorism battlefield.
New York Times reports (Jun 17): President Bush has
directed his top national security aides to make a doctrine
of pre-emptive action against states and terrorist groups trying
to develop weapons of mass destruction. This directly
contradicts fundamental US Cold War strategies of defense and
détente. In short, the US will not wait for terrorist strikes
before acting; it will undertake offensive first strikes at
suspected terrorists. Indeed, this isn't the Cold War.
first strikes against terrorists are understandable in the aftermath
of 9/11, but there will inevitably come a day when a decision
to strike suspected terrorists is widely viewed by the world
as arbitrary and bullying. Then, cries of Yankee imperialism
and the ghosts of Vietnam will return to haunt. The Bush Administration
really has little choice, it is forced to run a gauntlet not
of its choosing. It will be sniped at from left and right, from
foreign allies, and from the media. It will take great courage
to stay the course while walking a tightrope.
May 23rd, President Bush spoke to the German Parliament in Berlin's
newly reconstructed Reichstag and said: September the
11th, 2001, cut a deep dividing line in our history, a change
of eras as sharp and clear as Pearl Harbor. The burning
of the Reichstag in Berlin in 1933 marked the beginning of Hitler's
rise to power. Bush told Parliament that wishful thinking
would not get rid of the new totalitarian threat.
week later, in his West Point commencement address, President
Bush told graduating cadets: The US will take pre-emptive
action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our
lives. Since the only path to safety is the path of action,
this nation will act. Like it or not, pre-emptive action
is the new US policy du jour … externally and internally.
guilty are arrested before the law is broken.
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