Domestic Terror

The goal of terrorism is typically to disrupt and frighten the target society, subverting their calm state, so that more attention is paid to the terrorist’s cause. It almost never works at creating change the terrorist would like, but it frequently succeeds at least in damaging the society targetted, not in the least because political leaders in these societies often play directly into the terrorist’s hands by capitalizing on the fear for political gain, or to increase their own fiefdoms.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is one such functionary; Bruce Schneier notes the following dialog from an oft-linked interview McConnell gave with the El Paso Times:

Q. So you’re saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

A. That’s what I mean. Because we have made it so public. We used to do these things very differently, but for whatever reason, you know, it’s a democratic process and sunshine’s a good thing. We need to have the debate.

Wow. “If we talk about security policy, people will die.” Um, bullshit. Democracy cannot thrive in an environment of secrecy. Certainly some intelligence should be secret, and some planning, but a hard line must be drawn between legitimate operational security and shadowy surveillance practices turned on regular citizens.

McConnell’s interview is interesting for a number of reasons, as pointed out at BoingBoing; perhaps most interesting is that he explicitly confirmed what the government has been refusing to comment on, even in court: that commercial telcos have been helping them spy on Americans. Also worthwhile are the links at the end of Schneier’s post, especially those to Salon.

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