Investigative reporter Duncan Campbell reflects how 9/11 has torpedoed resistance to intrusion and undermined privacy rights born of earlier struggles. It may, irreversibly, have changed the way we think. 9/11 was a savage nightmare that took too long to happen for some in the West. For 12 fallow years, from the fall of the …
You know when I look back there are a lot of similarities after the cold war with the Stargate defeat of the Goa'uld.
Just when you think everything is fine, the damn Ori turn up to spoil everything.
"Schmid's detailed recommendations were passed without exception by the full parliament on 5 September 2011"
That should be 2001
re: banks & visitor tracking
Banks use visitor tracking for the same reason everyone else does - to make sure that their large unwieldy websites don't have problems. For example, if lots of people follow a promotion advert but never reach the "sign up here" page, is there an issue with the links being incorrect? That said, it should be in-house tracking code.
I've seen banks present iframes for login details... what could possibly go wrong with that?! Yes it looks like the bank's website, but there's an invisible page in front of it for you to enter your passwords into...
Good article and some good comments.
You shouldn't let someone else influence whether you do the right thing or not. 3000 dead does not mean you can start a couple of land wars in Asia. Use your detectives, not those trained to kill.
You do become like that which you fight.
Apart from the lack of morality which western governments have shown in this affair, it is just too expensive. If I didn't know better, I'd think that it was all just an excuse to funnel public funds to corporate friends... I can see no other reason to spread so much financial ruin with so wildly misdirected military action.
Silly thing is ...
My life hasn't changed at all since 9/11, despite all the propaganda. I *know* that the chances of any of me or mine getting hurt by so-called "terrorists" are far lower than getting hit by lightning, and probably lower than getting hit by a meteorite. Same for every other person in the US. In fact, I'm more likely to be killed or seriously injured by a semi blowing a tire out on I5 or Hwy101. Or even hitting a greasy patch of Hwy1 when rolling it on coming out of a twisty bit on my motorcycle. Or even, statistically, getting killed in a large PG&E gas line explosion, or from second-hand smoke (I won't talk about how laughable actual smokers worrying about "the terrorists" sounds, at least to my ears ...).
The fact is that hundreds of billions, maybe even tens of trillions of dollars have been spent "fighting" a force so tiny that they couldn't even take Monaco, much less England, EVEN IF they had unlimited access to the most advanced military gear on the planet, *AND* expert training in its use. Seriously. Think about it.
Surely all that loot could be spent in better places?
The Western World has been hoodwinked by a small group of extremists, aided and abetted by the so-called "leaders" of the Western World, and the mass media.
Why are you allowing yourselves to put up with it?
 Two exceptions: I don't fly commercial anymore, because I'm fed-up with all the useless hold-ups and the federally mandated molestation stations ... and I'm sick and bloody tired of all the sheeple bleating about "the terrorists", who don't actually exist for probably 10 nines of the people doing the bleating.
On a more personal level it has allowed my favourite pass time, photography, to turn me into some sort of pariah. SImply taking out a camera that is not pocket-compact or mobile-phone, means you are a terrorist or paedophile, or both. Spent many happy days, using film cameras years ago, snapping away on our city streets but now I don't bother anywhere as much as in the last 18 months alone I have been pulled over 6 times by various security guards and police, asking what I am doing. Riding a flipping bike!
I have been doing more coastal and countryside landscape and abstracts. Come the weekend I am now considered so unacceptable to be allowed in public with my DLSR kit that I have to skulk off into in the countryside where I cannot threaten the liberty, freedoms or encourage terrorism by God forbid, taking photographs!
Am I giving in? Maybe I am but I am getting older now and I simply want to enjoy my hobby without stress and due to the rampant paranoia of those cretins we elect into office I am considered to be worth less than common criminal.
Congratulations paranoid twats, you've won, are you happy now? 1984 has happened, it happened long ago but it was so slow and insidious we never noticed and we still barely register now. Every day we become more like those poor souls in Orwell's nightmare only the government still allows big buisness to feed us the illusion that we're free to choose the way we live, secretly we're being brainwashed more every day.
Bruce Schneier sees the future
Anyone remember the "Applied Cryptography" book? That one was published long before 9/11. I remember reading it some time around 2002, and ran into the following sentence:
"Imagine that a big terrorism attack were to happen in New York. How many liberties would be sacrificed after that?" (paraphrasing, can't remember the actual sentence and I don't have the book anymore). Reading this when something like that had happened, and seeing that the author was right about that made me really sad.
Then again, RIPA's "gimme your crypto keys" clause was passed before 9/11, so maybe the whole event only accelerated the inevitable...
In case I've dropped off the radar since 2001...
I remember RIPA still having a reasonable amount of public discussion at least in the technical parts of the media at the time of the 9/11 attacks - it may have passed, but the issue certainly wasn't dead. My third thought (after "I hope it's not as bad as it sounds" and "I think I'd better get out of central London") was "well, that'll stop the debates." While I choose to believe that nobody in a position of authority in any of the western powers would resort to being involved in such an attack, or even be glad that it happened, I've no doubt that there was a tiny silver lining for those who wanted these powers implemented - and I said as much at the time, in the vain hope that saying something might stop a whitewash, so I should stand by it now.
Frankly my main feeling was relief was that Bush didn't decide to respond with nukes (this was why I wanted to be out of London, not because I was worried about a plane strike). I would have preferred there to be no reaction at all - there's never a way to be sure whether an act like this was performed by a terrorist trying to attack the target country, or a terrorist trying to get the target country to attack somewhere else, and as has been said before any attempt to track the terrorists will impinge on the rights of normal citizens and promote, oddly enough, terror. Not that I want to belittle the losses of anyone involved, some vigilence is obviously sensible, and I appreciate that the security authorities must always feel that if they had more information, they personally could have saved more lives. Sadly, I think human reactions got in the way of a rational response, as we've seen happening in various other cases with a high media profile - there's a lot to be said for enforcing a cooling-off period before major legislation or military decisions.
The photography thing is similar. Honestly, I think there was a misguided attempt to recruit some help by the police forces that resulted in anyone with a camera being branded as a terrorist, and one campaign on the subject a few years ago has resulted in a repeated public relations nightmare for both the police and for anyone who has photography as a hobby. As has been repeatedly said, there's no way that the guy pointing a big DSLR at a landmark is going to get information that's not already on-line, and any terrorist with sense will have wandered into the fire exits with a camera phone if he really wants to analyse the structural integrity of a building. That said, it's not just terrorism - if you avoid buildings, it's still easy to get a child in the shot and be accused of paedophilia; there's a reason I mostly do landscapes and wildlife. For a profession that relies on photojournalism, the media has something to answer for when it comes to public outcry against photographers.
Having said all that, I've always thought that Echelon might have picked me up anyway. I've spent bored evenings reading up on nuclear weapons, various venemous creatures, fast-acting poisons, deadly diseases, high explosives and rocket delivery systems. Of course, I've *also* read up on historical boxers, programming languages, CVTs, differentials, optics, electronics standards and a host of other things, because I'm curious - but I've still thought "hmm, that's an interesting browsing history, hello spooks" on occasion. Hopefully anyone watching me is fully aware that, while I may be technically capable of killing people (I remain dubious that the 9/11 terrorists were any more competent than they needed to be), I have absolutely no motivation to do so. I suspect there are a lot of people like me out there, probably more than can ever be picked up on properly by monitoring - although I wouldn't be surprised to get a visit if I started ordering old supplies of fertiliser.
It's a not-so-brave new world.
(Remember when railway stations had a reasonable number of dustbins?)
If you're going to be like that
Its good to see our supposed allies spit in our faces daily with friendly fire incidents by American troops going uninvestigated and when they are investigated a refusal to send the soldiers involved over here to face a tribunal, no apologies for all the funding you happily gave the IRA, the insistence that all our financial transaction be allowed to be monitored by your government but we can't monitor yours, a judicial system that thinks American laws apply worldwide, a one-way extradition treaty and a sympathetic ear to the president of Argentina over the Falklands even though those living there have stated they wish to remain British.
May I remind you that the nation to suffer the 2nd largest number of casualties in 9/11 was Britain. Nowhere near the number of Americans and I am not trying to diminish in any way the memory of the losses but this article was about the freedoms we have lost since the attack which have been mostly driven by American paranoia.
Frankly we would be happy if you just walled yourselves in and the rest of the world never had to hear from you again.
Re: Garbage, what your country seems to be good at.
I'm sorry you feel that way. But I think you have got the wrong end of the stick.
Discussing the effect that 9/11 had on privacy, surveillance and civil liberties does not equal spitting in the face of anyone or anything.
Everyone acknowledges that 9/11 was a huge tragedy - we touch on the human dimensions here:
As for supposed allies: 550 British soldiers dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds more maimed. The cost of the wars to UK taxpayers - more than £20bn. And let's not forget the 67 Brits killed in 9/11.
"take away the idea that we should have the power to control what happens next"
As a firm believer in the idea that humans ought to be the masters of their technology and thus we must never allow it to control us, not even by other humans (like faceless people in government agencies), not as an excuse and especially not as a proxy, this probably explains why I find most of the "anti-terror measures", and a great many naive technopolicy things, so highly offensive.
It's also a good source of neverending irony, as the governments doing the most suppressing are all signatories to that figment of human imagination, the "universal declaration of human rights", and the self-styled biggest advocates of freedoms and liberties (and democracy, or was it republicanism?) turned themselves into the biggest and most blatantly backhanded violators of all those fancy shmancy rights. It couldn't be much more absurd than that they deliberately tried and ticked as many boxes on that declaration turned into a list of things to violate today.
I could go on and argue that the politicians showed us they have no integrity (we already knew), or that the governments lied to us and so lost legitimacy (who hasn't figured that one out yet?), and that perhaps we "westerners" need us some Arabs come next spring. But, well, all we do is commentard all atwitter. It's the new panem et circences.
Picture of the day: POTUS speeching from behind thick layers of glass. It's apt on so many levels.
There are some very disturbed people in this world
Denial doesn't change reality. Until you can point out all the terrorists in the world, technology is the best option we have to try and deter their attacks. If you've got a better idea, I'm sure governments around the globe would like to hear it.
Will you wear a straitjacket all day?
Just to give those of us who are disturbed enough to really belong in an asylum the good example, show 'em how it's done, eh?
No? Then why is it ok when it involves "technology"?
There might even be more people in mental institutions than there's genuine "terrorists" around. Certainly more than there's been "terrorists", fake or genuine, caught by all those anti-terrorism measures and found guilty as charged.
Of course it's not easy to "balance privacy and security" and all that... except that it's completely the wrong angle. Without privacy no security, so if you're not putting that first, you're doing it wrong from the start. As for denial, well, some of them have not merely done that but gone and fabricated evidence to start wars. They're *not* trying to strengthen our societies against assault, they're going out and assailing others, with outright lies as their "reason". And critiquing this means we're "in denial"? I don't think so.
There is always another way.
Even if it is unpalatable to some.
The best deterrent to any sort of attack --- barring the last-stand, of course --- is the realization that it will be ineffective. Even the hide-bound English general staff in the Great War eventually learnt that, from the trenches.
By not allowing oneself to become afraid, all of a sudden there is no terror. Without terror, there cannot, by simple definition, be terrorists.
That is not to say that it is not a good idea to keep an eye on the "very disturbed people", as you so aptly call them. Far from it --- and technology provides a superb set of tools to do so. But a far better way is to not have disturbed people to start with. Oh, there will always be the odd lunatic about, but they are not hard to spot. Far more dangerous are the embittered individuals, those who have been wronged, or who's ancestors/predecessors have been wronged, and who seem to be content, or who have the smarts to hide their feelings. These are the ones who will cause the problems. And if they are smart, they will not be traceable, technology or not. It is still possible to communicate with nothing more advanced than a pencil and paper.
But still the greatest defence is to not become afraid. Of course it is possible that one will die, (or perhaps worse be injured or maimed) as a result of terrorism. But one is still more likely to be killed stepping in front of a bus, or by any of a myriad of other ways that are purely chance. That doesn't mean that I am afraid of walking down the street (although at times I think I ought to be: there are some nutters on our roads here) --- I get out and live. Only a certain amount of time to do that in, you know.
In short, by far the best way to deter terrorist attacks is to render them ineffective by their sheer lack of terror, and to remove the reasons for them.
I don't pretend to know the best ways to do this, but I do fear that what is being done now is not as good as it should be. As someone in the list above said, what has happened to the (and I do hate to say it for fear of sounding like Col. Blimp, but) old attitude of "Carry On"? Why should the world stop because there is a risk --- and a very real, if not gargantuan risk --- of misfortune occurring? And this I fear is an ingrained problem in the world of today: we daren't take a risk, lest an accident occur. It used to be said that there was such thing as a "happy accident"; at present, any deviation from the desired path (through life, of events, etc.) seems to be treated as a Bad Thing. Which is sad. Where would the world be if it weren't for risks being taken. I remember reading somewhere (and I forget where now) that if the New World was discovered today that the tomato ( being a relative of deadly nightshade) and the potato (having toxic leaves) would not be permitted for consumption. "We cannot allow this risk to the general public", or words to that effect. And yet (the last of these at least) has helped civilization to flourish as much if not more than it has in all of recorded history. All for the fear that something might go awry. This is sad, in a very large-scale way. And this has led to terrible, and somewhat poorly thought out, things happening. I have no doubt that the vast majority of those responsible do really believe that it is for the best. But is it not said that "The road to ruination is paved with good intentions"? Just because it is well meaning does not mean that it will not end in disaster. And this can be summed up in another axiom (for good measure): "Do not blame on stupidity what can be blamed on stupidity".
And I do apologize if I have mis-read the meaning of your comment. This is however, my considered (and in hindsight lengthy) opinion on the matter at hand, as I read it. And at the moment I am half way through writing a dissertation and so am both a) looking to procrastinate as much as possible, and b) in a rather verbose state of mind.
It may, irreversibility, have changed the way we think.
Nice work, mister sub-ed. Way to draw the reader into a great article.
>>"It may, irreversibility, have changed the way we think"
Well, I suppose it's at least less of a cliche than the all-too-common:
"An event that changed history... .../forever/!"
or its sister phrase with 'world' replacing 'history'.
Worst thing about telecom immunity..
Note, I was not at all surprised when Obama didn't do most of what he promised, when I saw he talked about reducing surveillance but had voted for telecom immunity.
The worst thing about the telecom immunity for warrantless wiretapping was, the telcos didn't ALL go for it. I'm not a fan of Qwest, but the CEO of Qwest in fact did get legal advice that this was illegal and told the NSA to piss off until they got some warrants. Within days, the feds bailed out of several contracts they were just starting up with Qwest. In 2005 the (by then ex-)CEO of Qwest was charged with really trumped up stock-related charges, based on the theory that he should have known as early as 1999 that the contracts they pulled in 2001-2002 were going to be pulled (and not disclosing this inflated stock prices). He got put away in 2007 and is in jail until 2013.
So not only were the companies that DID break the law not penalized as they should have been, the one company that followed the law was penalized considerably.
has put a downer on my monday morning. Is it really all doom and gloom for us?
im still waiting for someone in power to ask the question - why arent all the highlevel americans (including white house politicians) who supported, often openly, the IRA being shipped to gitmo? people who had limited associations with organisations classed as 'fringe' are being targeted by 3 letter organisations so why not those in power who support(ed) actual terrorism?
of course the answer is that it benefited the US gov at the time by destabilising the UK (thanks both bush bastards, bang up job ya did there, hope you both burn in hell tormented by all those who died) but how is anyone supposed to take anything the amercians say seriously when such hypocrisy is so plainly open to view?
So you would trade most of your liberty for a little temporary/imaginary security?
BZZZZT! Wrong, you deserve neither and shall lose both.
Once you start spying on your own and abusing them, you have become what you fear.
The aims were to drag the US into a war, an expensive war with to stretch and bankrupt the country.
The US was targeted for reasons including support of Israel against the Palestinians and US support of Arabian dictators.
The attacks on the UK on 7/7 happened because of UK involvement in the war on Iraq, and Ken Clarke foretold in Parliament of attacks on European cities if we were to goto war in Iraq.
I don't fear terrorists.
Some random facts...
Terrorists kill roughly 6 people per year in the UK, the same number of people who die falling out of trees (but we don't spend billions putting crashmats under trees, 'just in case').
The poisonous effects of smoking have killed around 1,000,000 people in the UK in the decade since 9/11 (but no tobacco executive has been jailed).
And Harold Shipman is thought to have killed over 200 people (but there's no war on doctors, yet).
I do fear my Government. Sean Hoare, David Kelly, Paul Vigay, Ian Thomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes, Gareth Williams, to put names to just a few of the reasons.
Whos responsibility is it?
Who is responsible for going aftre law enforcement or other agencies when they violate the laws, or the constitutional rights?
And why have they not been doing that?
Is it the attorney generals? Who is responsible to go after them, when they fail to perform their duty?
Why have no independent law firms taken legal action against them?
Bad link in article
Proper link to John Ashcroft's testimony: http://www.justice.gov/ag/testimony/2001/1206transcriptsenatejudiciarycommittee.htm
Typo in the tittle
9/11 the day islam attacked the world
BZZZZT - Wrong
9/11 the day christian fundamentalists attacked their own.
(I'm looking at you here Bush)
The only difference between the Christian Fundamentalist (Bush) and the Islamic Fundamentalist (Bin Ladenis that the Christian Fundamentalist managed to get elected in charge of the most powerful army on earth.
A nit to pick ...
I appreciate the analysis in your article, and concur with many of the implications, however, I think it is naive at best to use the phrase "common criminality" to describe the actions of the 9/11 terrorists.
Although they may not have been state-sponsored (a debatable assertion), these events - and those that followed in other nations - were most assuredly not the acts of "common criminals". Nor should they (had they survived) have been dealt with in the criminal courts. The sober acknowledgement that they were correctly characterized as acts of war does not invalidate nor weaken the cautionary tale you share.