[EAS][RRE]attack comments/URLs

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Mon Oct 1 04:46:03 EDT 2001

Mail*Link® SMTP               [RRE]attack comments/URLs

I am forwarding this largely for its badly needed insights in the
comments. As mentioned earlier, the collected URLs can be reached
through the RRE Web site.   --PJK

Date: 9/30/2001 6:07 PM
From: Phil Agre
Here are some more URL's.  Thanks to everyone who contributed.

RRE home page: <http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/rre.html>

First, though, some notes on the protection of civil liberties, the
contradictions of conservatism, and the obsolescence of holy war.

I'm getting hate mail, and it falls into two broad categories.  Some
people think somehow that I have "changed my mind" about automatic
face recognition in public places as a result of the attack.  In fact,
I'm struck by how weak the arguments for automatic face recognition
in public places have been.  Other people seem to think that I favor
"doing nothing", apparently on no other evidence than my opposition
to automatic face recognition in public places.  In reality I've been
ranting about security weaknesses for years.  Even worse, some people
now seem to get a warm feeling from losing their civil liberties,
whether or not there is any rational connection to their safety.
That disconnect between image and reality is a main reason why airport
security was such a travesty to begin with.  In the real world, the
risk-benefit ratio of automatic face recognition in public places is
very poor.  The risk-benefit ratio of many other proposals is much
better, and if we really want to improve our security, as opposed
to escaping into the dream-world of authoritarianism, then we should
start with those.  The trains in Mussolini's Italy didn't really
run on time, and a democracy can't be secure unless it remains a
democracy.  People keep saying that the world has changed completely
since September 11th, but when I checked the Constitution it hadn't
changed at all.  Let's fix the real problems, sure.  I've said that
all along.  But extreme measures, whether at home or abroad, are only
going to make the problem worse.

One thing we're seeing is a huge instability in the doctrines of
conservatism, which is capable of being either vehemently opposed
to government or slavishly idolatrous toward it, swinging between
extremes with little clear pattern.  I'm glad that many conservative
groups have taken a strong stand for civil liberties.  Believers in
democracy agree with them, not because government is intrinsically
evil but because government becomes evil when it is no longer a
government of, by, and for the people.  Many other conservatives are
acting as though political freedom were some kind of frivolous luxury
good, like ice cream or fancy cars, that we have to "give up" in this
period of austerity.  The reality is that democratic countries need
to remain democratic in wartime.  A democratic government only works
if the people are informed and involved, and that's just as true
in war as in peace.  Conservatives should look into their own ranks
and distinguish between people who believe in rational measures to
secure the country against enemies and people who inhabit such a dark
mental world that absolute government power seems the only way out.
I've heard all the arguments for unquestioned obedience to authority
in wartime, for example that only the military really knows what its
doing, but those arguments apply to nearly everything.  Besides, the
military openly admits that it has no idea what it's doing.  In a war
without boundaries, a democratic people must be fully engaged with
the war, contributing appropriately to the war but also regulating
the government's conduct of it.  That's what civil liberties are for.

In fact, protecting civil liberties is a military imperative in an
even more straightforward way.  When our government violates civil
liberties, it abandons its claim to moral and political legitimacy.
The military, to its credit, seems to have figured out that victory
depends above all on Muslim public opinion.  The one billion Muslims
of this world aren't stupid, and they aren't uninformed.  They have
heard all the propaganda about the real and imagined crimes of US
foreign policy, and they're looking now to see whether the propaganda
is true.  Does the United States really support freedom and democracy,
or is the United States at war with Islam?  Does the United States
want to grab Osama bin Laden because he's a bad man, or should the
world's Muslims come to his rescue?  Those are choices that people
are making right now.  What choices do we want them to make?  It seems
to me that lots of conservatives would be happy to replicate on a
global scale the horrible, bottomless stalemate between Israel and the
Palestinians.  That's just the kind of world they live in, and I don't
think we should go there.

The rest of us understand that Muslims come in all types, and that
the most important type right now is "undecided".  The military has
actually stated that the "center of gravity" of the terrorist network
is the diplomatic alliance that the United States can array against
them.  They're not joking.  They know that we could actually lose
this war, and they've seen enough dead bodies in their own corridors
that the prospect of losing is not an abstraction for them.  The
next step, it seems to me, is to follow out the logical consequences:
if we win through alliances, then the correct strategy is to love-bomb
Islam.  If we want to win the war, we should declare October "Respect
for Islam Month".  Some radio hosts have sent mobs of their listeners
to eat at Afghan restaurants, just to show that we know the difference
between justice and hate, and I applaud them.  Let's keep going: we
should have interfaith prayer services in churches and mosques, Muslim
food in school cafeterias, a gala evening of classical music from
various Muslim countries in the White House, Hollywood stars getting
their pictures in the paper by wearing Middle Eastern dress, slides of
Arabic calligraphy with tasteful subtitles projected onto the sides of
buildings, green ribbons on our lapels next to the red-white-and-blue,
and heart-warming stories of decent, life-affirming Muslim heroes
told on television news programs.  Make a big deal out of it: maximum
publicity for maximum impact.  Get the Europeans to apologize for
the Crusades.  Hire a Muslim speechwriter to prevent our leaders from
uttering any more cowboy slogans or phrases like "infinite justice".
And say it: we think Islam is just great, we really do, we mean it,
and we sure do want those terrorists on trial.  These are *military*
imperatives, and we should mobilize the whole command structure to do
them.  Surely the modern military, grown cosmopolitan through all the
peace-keeping missions we've sent them on, understands the necessity
of this.  Heck, they probably even have a manual for it.

If we don't do this stuff, and if we go around randomly dropping bombs
on people and wrapping barbed wire around ourselves, then we will
drive the Muslim undecideds of the world into Osama bin Laden's arms,
and we will lose.  But if we do it, then Osama bin Laden will eat his
heart out.  His support system will dry up, the Taliban will fall, and
we will win -- militarily as well as spiritually.


The Secret War
(long article with much new detail)

Unlikely Doves: Counter-Terrorism Experts

Hawks and Doves Fight for Control of Campaign
(hawks seem to have no problem with mobilizing a billion Muslims against us)

Bin Laden Follower Details Training in Poisons

US and Britain to Strike Terror Camps Within Days

Saudi Rules Out Foreign Attack on Muslims From Its Soil

Pakistani President Not Convinced of Bin Laden's Guilt

The Lessons of Blowback

Hard Lessons From Global Battlefields

column from the Middle East attacking US policy

Gallup International Poll on Terrorism in the US
("... with TV and radio still dominating and the internet almost nowhere")

Hike in US Defence Spending to Benefit Osama's Family
(Bush Sr.'s business ties to bin Laden's family are all over the regional papers)

Americans Learn It's a Strange World Out There

civil liberties and security

Can Facial Recognition Help?
("many skeptical of much ballyhooed technology")

"The List" a Focal Point of FBI's Manhunt

1984 + 17: Crisis Monitoring

"the White House has ruled out creating a national identity card system"
(but it's the Washington Times, so who knows)

Compulsory ID Cards to Access British Schools, Hospitals

Hill Puts Brakes on Expanding Police Powers

Commentary: Security vs. Civil Liberties

For Sale: New Jersey Driver's Licenses

The Secret Court That Wields the Wiretap
(they've denied only one wiretap or warrant request in twenty-plus years)

resources on wiretapping

news and background

Inside a Newsroom on High Alert

Middle East Newswire

The Israeli Response to the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre

Address by George Bush on the Persian Gulf Crisis, September 11th, 1990


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