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Freedom Flees in Terror 656

Paul McMasters of the Freedom Forum has an editorial about the various and many restrictions on freedom that are following in the wake of the September 11 crashes.
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Freedom Flees in Terror

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  • "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

    -Thomas Jefferson
  • Angry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SilentChris ( 452960 )
    I'll make the same argument I've made with many privacy advocates in the past few days: you wouldn't be griping if you were here. Seeing a plane crash into a building on TV is one thing. Seeing it across the river (I live in NJ) is another.

    There is a current mini-poll going on at CNN that asks "Would you trade in some of your personal freedom to be safer from terrorists?" From being in the area, watching 5,000 people die, and hearing constant new stories from friends and neighbors about their dead relatives, I can honestly say "I would gladly agree with giving up some of my freedom".

    In fact, this is an issue that has gotten me angry before. These hotheads parade around in real life and online, waiving their "free speech" stickers, and they don't have an ounce or inkling of what really happened here. People have said to me, moronically, "I'd rather be dead than lose my free speech." I have to say, honestly, "What good is free speech if you're DEAD?"

    • Re:Angry (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Savage Henry Matisse ( 94615 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:26PM (#2323403) Homepage
      "Would you trade in some of your personal freedom to be safer from terrorists?"

      Most folks would agree to this, certainly. Unfortunately, as it stands, it seems the more salient question is "Would you trade in some of your personal freedo to be no safer from terrorists?" Because that's where it is: we will be asked to sacrifice our freedoms, but will be no safer from terrorist actions-- especially terrorist that display the adaptibility, patience and savage will that these hijackers did.

      • This is nothing but empty rhetoric. While empty rhetoric is enough to get you modded up to +5, it is not enough to convince anyone who disagrees with you. I am not saying that you are wrong just that you need to back up your claims. Be specific. Look at each proposed limitation on freedom and clearly explain why it won't work.
        • Look at each proposed limitation on freedom and clearly explain why it won't work.

          Sorry pal -- as the one advocating the limitations, the burden of proof falls on you. Be specific. Look at each proposed limitation on freedom and clearly explain why it WILL work.
        • Look at each proposed limitation on freedom and clearly explain why it won't work.

          Fuck you. They wanna take what's mine. Let THEM explain why it WILL work!

          • Look at each proposed limitation on freedom and clearly explain why it won't work.
          • Increased security and searches at airports, especially on domestic flights: This will help. It's common in most European countries, and has been recommended several times in the US, most recently by good old Al Gore in 1997 [].
          • Go hog wild with FISA [] warrants: Might help, although "hog wild" in the context of FISA is relative, and as the details of FISA warrants are secret and non-overseen, how would we know how effective they are?
          • Mandatory encryption backdoors: OK, I wrap my message in an older PGP, then wrap that in the backdoored version. How does that help you find or read it?
          • Mandatory copy control on all hardware: What the hell has this got to do with this issue, you ask? The Bill under consideration mentions "security". It talks about defending the US economy. It could sneak through just on those merits. That makes it (very unfortunately) relevant to this discussion, as it's a warning that we can't let "me too!" legislation slip through on the back of this.

          Some of the proposed measures are effective, and actually overdue. Some, like FISA, are unfortunate necessities. But the backdoors are pointless at best, and at worst, criminalise Joe Public (or more likely, Jane Corporate).

    • Re:Angry (Score:4, Flamebait)

      by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <> on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:26PM (#2323408) Homepage
      I have to say, honestly, "What good is free speech if you're DEAD?"

      What good it is, is that if we're going to die, let's die with our morals intact. I would rather die free than live in shackles.

      Once you're willing to give up your morals, where do you draw the line? If the government tells you that they need to be able to randomly search your house, because you might be a terrorist (and they blow things up, so you could DIE!), would you stand for it? If the government says "this internet thing is letting too many people exchange terrorist plans, and if they do that, you could DIE!, so we're going to censor the net.", would you stand for it?

      The bottom line is that once you acknowledge that you're willing to trade your moral values for your life, your life isn't worth possessing any more.

    • I just had an extensive argument on IRC regarding this. Basically I posed this hypothetical situation: A terrorist is using email to plan to nuke Los Angeles. Suppose that a carnivore-like system were able to detect this and avert it. Given that the system is not abused, I repeat, given that its not abused (no fair saying "but it will be") would you give up email privacy in exchange for Los Angeles?

      I would.


      • Re:Angry (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DavidJA ( 323792 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:40PM (#2323461)

        would you give up email privacy in exchange for Los Angeles?

        Of course I would (and I'm in Australia) As long as you can prove to me that letting the FBI read my e-mail will make a difference.

        I heard a news report this morning that there was a person in First Class on the same flight from Boston a week earler. On this flight there were 4 people of middle eastern extraction in first class with him that were acting very strangly. If this is true, they were probably doing a dry run for the atack. Anyway, this person actually reported it to the FBI.

        In other words, if this news artical was true, the FBI knew something was wrong a week before, and it still did not stop them.

        So I repeat: As long as you can prove to me that letting the FBI read my e-mail will make a difference.

      • Re:Angry (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bronster ( 13157 ) <> on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:41PM (#2323466) Homepage
        I just had an extensive argument on IRC regarding this. Basically I posed this hypothetical situation: A terrorist is using email to plan to nuke Los Angeles. Suppose that a carnivore-like system were able to detect this and avert it. Given that the system is not abused, I repeat, given that its not abused (no fair saying "but it will be") would you give up email privacy in exchange for Los Angeles?

        Suppose that pigs can fly...

        "Given that the system is not abused" - where are you giving that from? If there's one thing that history tells us about these systems, they are abused.

        The other part of your hypothetical.

        "that a carnivore-like system were able to detect this and avert it" - do you seriously believe that the terrorists are not going to be able to get messages past such a system and yet you'll still have the freedom to freely send messages? The only way to keep on top of new techniques is to severly restrict the noise ratio on data channels, and this means restrictions on internet use. There are no ways to stop low bandwidth information transfer.

        Even something as simple as either looking at or not looking at a site like slashdot once a day gives you one bit a day of data transfer. It would be easy to hide a short message in a single slashdot post - even something as simple as choice of punctuation, spelling errors, etc - if agreed on without going through the carnivore net - would be enough to give maybe 10 digits of data in a post this long.

        I'm amazed that slashdot readers can believe that such a system wouldn't be abused - I mean how likely is that that the RIAA wouldn't push for this to be used to monitor 'illegal' behaviour as well.
        • Hear Hear (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Thursday September 20, 2001 @12:07AM (#2323569) Homepage Journal
          What constantly stuns me about the American public is how much it seems that few remember their lessons from civics class on why and how the US was formed.

          The founders of the US framed the constitution based around the fact that the natural tendency of government is to oppress its people and for this reason there are a number of safeguards in the US constitution (Bill of Rights, Seperation of powers, etc) that are there for the express purpose of preventing the government from oppressing the people. The current trend of assuming that the government knows best and won't abuse its powers runs counter to spirit that originally founded the United States and would have the framers of the constitution rolling in their graves.
          • Re:Hear Hear (Score:2, Insightful)

            by nuintari ( 47926 )
            Do me a favor.... tell that to the other 2.69 million dumb fucks I have to live with..... ya know, majority knows best over over here, and right now, majority says that personal freedom is for terrorists. I fear for the future riht now.

          • Huzzah! Please repost this about 10 billion times so maybe it will sink in to some of the thick heads around here.

            I wish people would realize that despite being white rich guys the Founding Fathers really had it down. They lived through a revolutionary war; they saw the levels government can sink to, and from their experience they crafted an amazing system of government that has protected liberty incredibly well.

            As soon as anyone around here has the same kind of life experience as Sam Adams and TJ and the rest, I will start to take their opinion on how to change the Constitution seriously.
      • Re:Angry (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sabalon ( 1684 ) on Thursday September 20, 2001 @12:03AM (#2323556)
        Okay...take this. If I'm a hypothetical terrorist, and I'm sending/getting e-mail about the above scenario. Now, if I'm smart, it'll look like

        asdfASEAJfakjaSKjdkljaAJK>jflkjasADFjASDJKFjakl sdjfAAKSjkaljtlkrutaileACJieAJaJAIOEAIUEIUaLFKJasK Ljfls

        until it gets decrypted. But lets suppose I'm somewhat dim and don't encrypt this. What would Carnivore think of
        Tonight I was listening to Sting and

        Los Lobos. Sting's song from The Soul Cages,

        Angels Will Fall is not as good as his anti-

        Nuke stuff from the 80s, but it is still better than Blue

        Midnight by Los Lobos.
        -------- I just some idiot stuck in the 80s, or was the message the first word of each sentence - Tonight Los Angels Muke Midnight.

        Hell...does Carnivore even do anything other than english?
        • You're very right, in all the encrption hipe another technology is slowly fading away from memory, -hiding- information. Yes in example you can write a text, where the first letters of each word make a new test in example.

          An encrypted message is suppisios, and objectied to decyphering. But a message looking completly harmless will silently pass through the even theoritcal perfect decription/guardining system. I image that writing a program that uses a text takes it's letters and creates another perfect english text using the first letters of every word for the original text isn't too difficult to write.

          Beside hiding into text you can hide also into pictures, sending an email with the playmate of the month will be completly standard, but look from every pixel in the least significant bit, well this stream will give a totally different message. Nobody and Nomachine can see the difference of a picture if just the least significant bits are changed. Same goes into .wav files, into .mp3, etc. etc.
          • Indeed, there's a long history of hidding messages in various forms. There's also a long history of catching it. As usual, I'll fall back on referencing David Kahn's "Code Breakers" for the particulars. Things such as hidding microfilm on a period in a letter, using the swing up vs. swing down in a cursive note have existed and have been caught by censors during various wars.

            However, the main difference between that and systems like carnivore is that you used to have a human eyeballing these pages. Now it's impossible to get a staff that large (imaging trying to check every packet going over an MCI backbone).

            Further, even if you wrote an expert system that could check the grammar and patterns of words in emails, it would most likely fail utterly, since the average person uses very individual (and odd) syntax in emails. Frequent misspellings, grammar missteps, and apreviations are everywhere. OTOH, conventional letters have a long history of established form where variation can be detected easily.

            For that reason, such low bandwidth communicaion should be more that addiquate for the slow organization of terrorist cells. Virtually impossible to detect unless you're being targeted specifically (then you've lost anyway), and readily accessible. It's believed that important information is transfered face to face (ala the susspected meeting in Germany).

            The funny part about the demands on civil liberties after 9-11 is that they haven't changed all that much since the days of CALEA. Then it was to save the children from kidnappers and child pornographers. Now it's to save the world from terrorists. I doubt either will be much affected by law enforcement's new toys.

      • I repeat, given that its not abused (no fair saying "but it will be") would you give up email privacy in exchange for Los Angeles?

        A false statement implies any other statement. If we accept the false premise that such a system would not be abused - if we fail to accept that indeed its very creation would be abuse - anything and everything becomes true.

        If you don't believe it to be a false premise, you are woefully ignorant of history, psychology, sociology, and politics.

      • Basically I posed this imaginary situation in magical fairy land that has no bearing whatsoever on those people that actually live in the real world.

        Okay, thanks. Move along.

    • I can understand this sentiment, but what good is being alive if every freedom is restricted? Some of us are afraid that giving up even one freedom will lead us down to giving up all freedoms. I have nothing in my life that I think the gov't would be even the slightest bit interested in, but I'm not going to give up my freedoms of privacy or speech just because it may lead to a few safer lives.

      Bush has said for months before the elections that there should be limits to free speech...this was in reference simply to a web site that didn't care for him. I support him for what he has to do but I pray that he makes the right decisions and not one that simply makes life easier.

      Make the 5000 lives lost worth something...they died for the american way. Many of these folks were immigrants that came to America because of these freedoms. Don't make a mockery out of their deaths simply because you are afraid.

    • you wouldn't be griping if you were here.

      Yes, I would. I've been though a lot and I'm not terrified that easily. The concepts of freedom and liberty are only safe luxuries to those who have always had them; if you lose them for even a short time you come to a more mature understanding. You say, if I were there I'd be willing to forego a few freedoms for greater safety. I say, if you'd lost a few freedoms in the past you'd never agree to such an idiotic deal.

      "I would gladly agree with giving up some of my freedom".

      I won't, not now, not ever, not under any circumstances. I'm willing to fight to retain the liberties my (and your) ancestors fought and died for -- the same liberties which our country's enemies do not have, don't understand, and would be delighted to see us lose. Keep your eye on the ball, not the dancing chicken on the third base line.

      Ben Franklin knew what he was talking about when he said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    • you wouldn't be griping if you were here

      where i grew up bombs blew up once every other week.

      You saw a few thousand get killed because they ignored what their government has done around the world; i've seen more get killed/disappeared because they tried to speak out against what their governent was doing in their country.

      The vast majority of the US chooses not to fully excercise their freedom of speech, this does not mean the rest of us should have that freedom taken away.

      Now you will ask me what good free speech is when your dead? what good is life without the ability to express myself freely?

      i grew up seeing just how bad it can get when a government supresses its people. i live in the U.S.A. because i feel i have the best chance for preserving my freedom of expression in this country. I dont want to see another reversion into McCarthism or worse - do we really forget how much wrong our government has done in the past? Thousands died living in a country i'm sure they would hail as the Land of the Free. You would have the next thousands die in a much different country.

    • "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    • I understand your point. However, one difficulty with modern cryptography is that it's technically very hard to give up "just enough" of your freedom.

      You can't just weaken the algorithms (e.g. by only allowing 40-bit keys). Sure it makes it easier for the "good guys" to intercept the communications of the "bad guys", but the converse is also true. Even the terrorists will be able to listen in on your business communications, find out what flight your company's president is taking to the trade show, etc.

      The only option that makes sense is to require government access to keys. In this scenario, the algorithms operate at full strength and users are secure against other users. However, if the government agencies want to investigate you, they will have a copy of your key on file.

      However, there are problems. Under this scenario, the government has to have your key on file in advance of when they want to use it. It's no good for them to ask you for your key after they begin to suspect you; you'd know they were on to you.

      Now this means that you have to send to the government a copy of every cryptographic key you ever generate. As it happens, this week I've been working on setting up some software-based VPNs to tunnel corporate data across the Internet. I've got a half-dozen OpenBSD boxes running OpenSSH, IPSec, and so on. There are randomly-generated (temporary) keys all over the place. These are just development boxes and will probably get wiped clean in a couple of weeks when I install the real servers. However, right now, each of these boxes is capable of creating a secure communications channel across the Internet. Therefore, under certain legal conditions, I would be required to register all of the keys with a central government agency.

      When you're dealing with government access to keys, it's not good enough to have 99% compliance with the regulations. Your targets, the terrorists, are going to be in that last 1%. So you need to ensure 100% compliance with the regulations.

      One way to do this is to allow only pre-approved, secure crypto implementations that have an automatic and tamper-proof key-forwarding mechanism. Guess what, you've just made it illegal for users to use any open-source crypto software. You've also made it illegal to run any open-source operating systems or hardware emulators, because these give you enough control that you could modify the operation of any software-based cryptographic utility (think of running a program in a VMWare sandbox, or single-stepping through it in an emulator, and modifying the key data that it sends to the government agency). Suddenly, the only legal "PC" would be a sealed box with a factory-installed Microsoft operating system, on a "CPRM"-style hard drive that couldn't be re-formatted. General-purpose compilers and scripting languages would have to be outlawed, so that ultimately the "PC" could only be used for online shopping, games, or listening to "pay-per-view" downloaded musical content (from RIAA-approved central servers, of course).

      If you allow people to keep on using general-purpose computers, the only way to ensure that the government has access to your keys is to randomly audit the process, to try decrypting the messages of a user, and ensuring that you get a legible plain-text. If you don't, you have to haul that user in for a severe punishment (severe enough that it scares everyone else into making sure the government always has an up-to-date version of their keys).

      So now you have a scenario where otherwise-innocent citizens have to be audited, and severely punished for the "crime" of not proactively ensuring that the central government agency has a copy of every random key they might ever happen to generate in the course of their daily lives. And you have to audit almost every citizen if you want to have a good chance of catching the terrorists (who make up an extremely small fraction of the population).

      And if that's not bad enough, remember that most governments are not 100% free of corruption. Maybe some bored clerk in the crypto bureau will decide he wants to read the full plaintext of the day's decryption-compliance audits, rather than just feeding them to the AI system (maybe Carnivore, maybe just a simple algorithm to see if the decryption result looks like a standard document format). Or maybe the mafia pays off a clerk to deliver them a copy of your financial records, so they can blackmail you. Or maybe a large international aerospace corporation convinces the governenment agencies to let them peek at your bid on a large contract, so they can undercut your company and get the business.

      It's a very slippery slope, when you start trying to introduce a "controlled leak" into a system that is inherently strong and secure. That's why I advocate a strong right to privacy, even though I feel the government may be morally entitled to read my "private" communications as long as due process is followed (present their case before a judge, get a 'search warrant' if they can demonstrate probable cause, etc).

      I'd be interested to hear if anyone knows of technical solutions that would allow a "reasonable compromise" between freedom and security. Otherwise, I think we just have to take it as a modern "law of nature" that people can communicate privately without the possibility of interception. We as a society have to grow up. We're not children any more, and our "parents" (governemnts) can't protect us from all the evils of the world any more. We've all gotten too good at killing and hurting each other for the "parental" safeguards to work any more. All we can do is recognize our mutually vulnerable nature, and try to work together to build peace in the world. Some other Net poster suggested that the US take some fraction of the $BIGNUM dollars recently approved to "fight terrorism", and use it to sponsor humanitarian and educational initiatives in Afghanistan, thus undercutting some of the "Great Satan" imagery that fuels the passion of the terrorist sympathizers. IMHO, this is a very interesting idea and is probably far more effective on a per-dollar basis than cruise missiles.

      p.s. Just for the record, I am a Canadian citizen who luckily didn't lose any friends in the WTC attack (as far as I know). Apply appropriate weighting factors to my opinions.
      • Actually, if you got to the point where everything but Clipper Chip type encryption was outlawed, you wouldn't have to enforce it by auditing, if you assume that the government would only decrypt stuff after that got a warrant. In that case, if the terrorists are using some illegal crypto, the feds get a warrant, and they can't decrypt it, then you can throw the terrorists in jail for a few years for breaking the crypto laws, and they'll be unable to commit any terorrism until they get back out.

        But if the feds wanted to set up a system where all traffic is monitored for suspicious stuff, then all encrypted traffic would be fed through some Carnivore type system, which could have code tacked on to try and detect already-encrypted traffic.

    • A suicide bomber is someone who is so desperate ; so despondent over our {real or imagined} attacks against him, or his people that he's willing to kill himself over it. It's pretty much imposible to stop someone who is willing to die to get to you. The threat of a life behind bars isn't going to do much to stop someone who's not expecting to be alive for the trial.

      There's a Spider Robinson story that starts with a guy who's about to comit suicide. A robber pulls a gun on the guy and says, "Your money or your life!" Well, our protagonist has no quams about losing his life, and damned if he's gonna let that bastard have his money......

      Back in the '30s, the big threat wasn't Palistinians... It was Jews. Hitler instituted all sorts of restraints on human rights to combat that threat. Ask the people of Germany about how safe they were in the aftermath.

      I think it was Malcom X who said that:
      people who are willing to surrender their liberty in the name of some minimal safety get -- and deserve -- neither.

  • The First Great Tragedy is the attack and destruction of the WTC and ~5000 souls.

    The Second Great Tragedy will be the trial and execution of Bin Laden.

    I seriously doubt it will be a fair trial(guilty or not). With it will die the American Promise. If he did do it he has crafted the most ingenious attack yet. Why waste your own resources when your enemy will gladly tear itself apart trying to prevent the 'Next Big Terror'.

    I could, hopefully, be wrong.
  • "We're in a new world where we have to rebalance freedom and security," said House Democratic Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo. "We're not going to have all the openness and freedom we have had."...Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., repeated the warning: "When you're in this type of conflict, when you're at war, civil liberties are treated differently."

    And yet only Barbara Lee voted out of concern for that. If congresspeople do truly see that their actions against the people's rights have huge consequences, and end up only extending the harms of the terrorist attacks, why do they vote otherwise? Because the public calls for extensive action. Because they want to look 'tough' on terrorism. Surely something should be done. But indiscriminate rights violations are not the way to respond to the attacks. It is a short-sighted knee jerk, with long-term consequences.
    • One of the problems I have with congress is that they are motivated by too many factors. For instance I remember hearing quotes from a couple people who said they strongly considered joining Lee, but were afraid to look soft on terrorism and other pandering bullshit.

      Politicians are too busy being political to give honest answers on the record, especially if they think they might change that answer later. While I don't imagine that ever changing, I would still like to have better insight into what congress is thinking.

      I know it would never be accepted, but I can imagine having anonymous opinion polls that congressmen fill out each morning. Oh look, 85% of them favor curbing encryption, better get writing. Or, 15% don't know how to read email, who elected these guys?

      Sure there would still be bullshit, but maybe we'd get a little less bullshit. I'm all for any way of knowing more about what the people we put in charge have in mind for the rest of us. Writing and calling can be good too, but then at best you still only get a few opinions rather than a helpful forecast of what's ahead.

  • To understand the present assault on freedom, it is necessary to understand the background. There are people who want to make war, simply that, as a way of acting out their own inner conflict.

    What is the most important lesson of the terrorism? Understanding the corruption in the secret agencies of the U.S. government. They have a conflict of interest; they are supposed to help prevent trouble, but they get more money if there is more trouble.

    I have tried to pull together information about this in an article: What Should be the Response to Violence? []. The article is now considerably improved.
    • Just out of curiosity, it's World War II. What is your answer to Hitler's violence? How do you think it should have been solved?

      • "Just out of curiosity, it's World War II. What is your answer to Hitler's violence? How do you think it should have been solved?"

        First, you would have to start early. Non-violent methods, like violent methods, take time to have effect.

        Second, the most powerful non-violent methods would use the fact that people are more knowledgeable about their inner reality than they were in Hitler's time. So, what I am about to say won't sound realistic for back then, because it presumes the knowledge that many people have today. Let's just talk about solving the problems we have today, rather than try to transport ourselves back to Hitler's time.

        Third, achieve a complete understanding of what causes violence. Violence, including war, is caused ONLY by a particular kind of mental illness. There is NO other cause. If you understand that, and begin looking for that kind of mental illness, solving the problem of violence is not so difficult. It is still difficult, but not impossible.

        When you understand that violence is cause by errors in brain processing, stopping violence becomes a troubleshooting problem. Stopping violence is a problem of troubleshooting errors in the human bio-computer. This is the kind of work many Slashdot readers know. Train Slashdot readers, and we have 1,000 or 10,000 technicians to put in the field.

        Many Slashdot readers already know how hard it is to find a processing error. They have learned not to be intellectual wimps. If it takes 90 tries and two weeks to find an error in a C++ program, they know that's what must be done.

        Fourth, there needs to be a recognition of how nutty things are today. I just watched an official on the September 19, 2001 CBS TV show "60 Minutes II" talk about the 1998 U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.

        According to the show, the U.S. sent 60 cruise missiles, each of which cost $2,000,000, into a dry mountainous region where the total value of all the surrounding buildings was probably less than the equivalent of $10,000.

        According to the local Afghanis on the show, the missiles costing $120,000,000 destroyed part of a mosque and killed a few children and adults. This was an expression of a need of a few people to act out inner conflict. Why do I say that? Because $120,000,000 spent on doing good works in Afghanistan would, literally, put you in a position to be elected president of that very, very poor country. The people who sent the missiles did not want to solve the problem. They wanted to act out their inner conflict, and make more problems so they could do more trouble-making later, too. Do you see why I say the only explanation is mental illness?

        The official being interviewed saw no evidence of anything crazy about this back then. He still didn't, even after being repeatedly questioned.

        Read Limbs of no body: World's indifference to the Afghan tragedy [] A million people died of starvation! This article was referenced in an earlier Slashdot story.

        On the local news tonight, newscasters said that a huge number of jet aircraft have been sent to the Middle East. Ships are on their way also. This when they have absolutely no more clue about where to aim their weapons than before.

        There needs to be recognition of how often a well-educated, well-dressed person looks you in the eye, talks in an elegant, logical-sounding way, and speaks complete nonsense.

        I have considerable experience teaching people how much craziness there is in the world, and how to recognize it. A good student can learn a lot in 9 months to two years.

        Fifth, recognize that the conflict in the Middle East has NOTHING to do with religion. People have been using religion as a way of justifying violence since before Islam existed and before Judaism existed. It's nonsense. There is NO connection. Violence is ONLY caused by mental illness. It's that simple.

        Sixth, learn enough to recognize that Arabs have a real gripe. The U.S. has been meddling in the region for years. Saudis, for example, have a right to complain about their government. How would you like it if you were an American working for changes in the U.S. government, but the Saudi government was preventing the changes? How would you like it if the Saudis who were preventing improvements knew nothing about the politics and didn't even speak English?

        Conflicts are solved partly with personal understanding and personal relationships.

        Step seven is where it starts getting messy. An outbreak of mental illness like a war is composed of many mini-outbreaks. Your technicians must identify each one. Each one requires personal attention.

        If it is Hitler we're discussing, it is necessary to recognize early that there is a potential outbreak. Warn everyone. In the early days, the Nazi movement was weak.

        The result of working with each mini-outbreak is that you drain the energy out of the mental illness, and people go back to just yelling at their kids.

        This isn't complete, but it is enough for a Slashdot post. There's more in the article: What Should be the Response to Violence? [].
  • In Australia during the Falklands war, the song "Six Months In A Leaky Boat" by Split Enz was banned from radio airplay.

    Either then, or during the Gulf war, "Imagine" by John Lennon was banned.

    Both decisions appeared to be a bit strange, but were just as legal as resticting people from swearing on radio.

    Australia, of course, has no free speech amendment. The USA does, for now.

  • You know my biggest fear isn't any loss of freedom, in the end the Supreme Court has a habit of shooting that stuff down for the bullshit it is. My biggest fear is encased in the following scenerio:

    Let's say for the sake of arguement, they find people in the US who helped conspire the attacks on Sept 11. Now lets assume it was based of a broadened search that Congress allows. Okay, the person(s) responsible get convicted and go to jail. Now they appeal that search warrent used to tap your email, and insist they should have gotten a wiretap for it. The Supreme Court agrees and thows out ALL evidence based of the improper search and gives them a new trial. Now with probabally all evidence gone, someone may have to be se free. That's what I fear. Congresss being shortsighted and seeking a quick solution and in the end get no justice cause the laws used to find the people were unconstitional.
  • I'm no expert on the process, but I'm fairly certain that elected officials take an oath to preserve freedom, democracy, and the bill of rights. Following the attacks, supporters of what would amount to a policed-state, or a country under martial law (where the intelligence arm of the government would act as the military force), haven't even bothered to mask their intentions. They simply say things like, 'US citizens will need to lose certain freedoms in order for our agenda to be met'. This example is a little extreme; but it seems as much a contradiction as hitler sitting in the oval office, and running this democracy according to his interpretation of the constitution. The kinds of proposals being made in the house and the senate aren't just crossing a line, they're pissing all over the line. Particularly, legislation dealing with immigrants who've simply been suspected of illegal activity borders on fascism. I suspect that most politicians who support these measures, or have already voted to pass them, haven't even had the patience to actually read what they're writing into law. If they do know what they're doing, they should be removed from office.
  • well, I think that we are sliding down the path to becoming a police state. It's actually pretty popular right now.

    Don't beleive me? look at the latest gallup polls here [].

    What was particularily shocking was this:

    Requiring Arabs, including those who are U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID.

    49% supported this, and 49% opposed it. That is incredibly insane. Perhaps those 49% who supported it should be especially identified for being morons :).
  • April, 1942:

    The civil liberties of thousands of Japanese American citizens were restricted during wartime. Later, this was called an atrocity.

    To any senators or congressmen listening:

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
  • Banned songs (Score:3, Informative)

    by terri rolle ( 413434 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:41PM (#2323468)
    Amongst the numerous inflammatory examples used in the editorial was this:
    a radio network circulated a list of songs that would be problematic to play

    I'm sick of seeing this [] blown out of proportion over and over again. It's not an infringement of our civil liberties. It's just a radio network making recommendations to its stations on how not to offend the fuck out of their listeners the day after five thousand people were murdered. As far as I can tell that's just good business sense combined with a little sensitivity.

    • Amongst the numerous inflammatory examples used in the editorial was this:

      frankly the rest are pretty bad too. A museum near to one of the attacks takes a piece of art off the walls with full intent to put it back later. Oh no, thats so evil. A school has the guts to stick with its policy against religious prostylization on school grounds and thats a new scarey restriction on rights? The Flag Desecration ammendment has been on the table since I was in high school.

      And funny how no news network I have heard has had anything to say about the "confiscation" of film. They take those things pretty seriously. An exageration of a specific incident? Putting the ol evil spin on authorities taking film so they could have as much of a record for their investigation as possible?

      No example or even combination of examples given in this little rant actually justifies the appocolyptic tone. So if he tries to talk about some future truely disturbing developments, it will be hard not to assume that he is exagerating and embellishing them as well. Haven't these guys ever heard of the boy who cried "wolf"?

      Kahuna Burger
  • Other than that whole "give us your keys or we throw you in jail" thing, how's the UK when it comes to civil liberties? My wife was born there, and my understanding is that it'd be possible for me to become a naturalized citizen. That being said, what's the overall climate across the pond?
  • by mrBoB ( 63135 )
    I saw someone quoted Ben Franklin somewhere, might have been here, but one line summarizes my feelings:
    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    - Benjamin Franklin

    This is America. Our nation was creating holding "(many) truths to be self-evident." These notions are intended to transcend time, most importantly that every man be free (of religous persecution, to have viewpoints not necessarily in line with the current gov't trends, etc.) to be free enough to pursue what he desires (make money, run his own church, whatever). When we enact LAWS _restricting_ these freedoms, we are IMHO throwing 300+ years of fighting. My fellow Americans need to learn there are things more valuable to _Humankind_ than life. The freedom to choose. People in many other nations don't get _choice_. Choice comes with responsibilty and perhaps we've been irresponsible (for the past 50-100 years!) but we should really do something to change. We have a unique opportunity here, amidst this travesty... One of the things we must keep focused on, however, is that which allowed us to get this far. We must observe and protect the Constitution of the United States. Keep in mind, the President (and pretty much anyone else who serves the Fed Gov't) _swears_ to do so on Inauguration day.

    just my 0.02


  • If that's what we have, and the vast majority wants to trade their freedom for a little more security, who are we to say that that government shouldn't provide it for them?

    What are we do do when the vast majority of the population desires a government that is in stark contrast to its Constitution?

    I wish I knew the answer.

    • What are we do do when the vast majority of the population desires a government that is in stark contrast to its Constitution?

      Umm, try to remind them that the Constitution was written the way it was for a reason? Agree that something needs to be done (if only to appease Joe Six Pack), and that if it's reasonable and has a time window, we'd consider going along with it?

      How about something wild and crazy--Try to explain WHY summarily dismissing rights really wouldn't have made, and won't make a difference in the future.

      The average American has the attention span of a three year old on a sugar bender. With the "seekurity" shiny thing dangled in front of them, all reason is seemingly suspended. Somebody has to remind them that abuses have happened in the past, are happening today, and if liberties aren't protected, will happen more and more frequently in the future.
  • This is a much better article on this topic, if you ask me. Shit, even if you don't ask me, it is still a better article on the topic.

    Cyber-Surveillance in the Wake of 9/11 []

    "It's important to note with respect to the coordinated terrorist attack that this was not an Internet crime per se. It could have taken place without coordination across the Internet."

    One other thing, didn't Katz just cover this topic? Whatever.
  • Prohibit encryption - I'm sure a law against strong encryption would make terrorists/criminals think twice about using it. Perhaps if we had a law against hijacking and murder then the WTC event could have been avoided.

    Oh wait, by definition, criminals don't care about the law.

    Ban flag burning? WTF would that do? Sure, I've never burnt a flag, and probably never will, but this is nothing but someone pushing their agenda and using this tragedy as an excuse.

    Libraries and monitered internet access - this is about the only one I can see being semi-useful. However, what is to say that the ID card I present to use a computer is real? And gee...SSL and a web based mail server and you have no idea what is being sent.

    I really don't mind hightened security in airports and the searching of my carry-ons. I am paying for the convienence of flying instead of driving. I understand the saftey reasons involve and that by prventing someone from carrying a weapon on, a change could be made.

    But implementing measures that ciminals will bypass anyway is another matter.

    As for the boss removing flags on a desk - whose company is it??? When it's your company you can call the shots. Don't like it - work elsewhere.
  • Earler today, someone sent me a link to an article [] at Cybercast News Service (CNS) that is incredibly biased and attacks once again, freedoms such as privacy, search warrants and generally suggests more invasive and heavy handed actions by our government.

    The article was one one sided, and lacked any sort of journalistic integrity. Here's my letter to the editor:

    Dear Editors,

    I just got finished reading your piece on domain names that may have been warning signals of the terrorist attacks last week.

    This article was horribly biased, and I hope a retraction and a more balanced and informative article will replace it.

    The quotes in the article from Neil Livingstone have very limited view points that seem to waver close to extreme when it comes to attacking civil liberties.

    Mr. Livingstone also seems a poor choice to quote on this matter, since his comments show that he doesn't understand how the domain registration system works on the internet.

    Below, I've pointed out some passages from the article (specifically quotes from Mr. Livingstone) which show his lack of understanding on the technical details involved in registering domain names and his lack of respect for civil liberties and freedom.

    "It's unbelievable that they (the registration company) would register these domain names, probably without any comment to the FBI," according to Neil Livingstone, head of Global Options LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based counter-terrorism and investigation company.

    It's not surprising at all. Hundreds of thousands of domain name records are created and changed every day. Most of the transactions are handled by computer, and human operators don't even look at the names being registered. I've been dealing with domain registration issues for many many domains, going as far back as 1994, and in that time, not once have I ever spoken to a human representative from the registration firms I've dealt with. This is involving hundreds, if not thousands, of domains that I've been responsible for over the past 7 years.

    To protect his sources, Livingstone would not say with which company the domain names in question were registered. He had no information about the identity of the person or people who registered the names.

    His sources? Mr. Livingstone couldn't have had sources on this matter. The records are quite public, as your story goes on to point out. Anyone with a net connection can find out when a domain was registered, and who the administrative, technical, and billing contacts are.

    "This is something that someone should have noticed," he said, "but privacy issues probably kept it from being noticed."

    Privacy issues? ANYONE can get the information his "sources" gave him. It's not private to begin with. His attack on privacy doesn't have anything to do with the subject of the article, and seems very out of place.

    ...Livingstone believes authorities should have the right to investigate inflammatory rhetoric, even something as simple as the registration of a web address that might indicate criminal intent.

    And, evidently, he thinks that we should just forget about those constitutional protections that already allow this, once the proper clearance has been given by the courts in the form of search warrents.

    It seems as if he's suggesting that due to a national tragedy, we can trample the constitutional rights of our citizens in order to ensure "safety."

    In the future, I hope you'll present more balanced and technically accurate articles, with a broader sampling of opinions and viewpoints evident in the people you quote.

    Thank you,

    Ben Stanfield

    Ben Stanfield
    Executive Editor, MacSlash []

    • The web page talked about two names: and However, a quick whois search shows that was registered on 2001/9/11, after the attack. Tasteless, yes, involved with the act, no.

      And the other address is completely unknown to whois.

    • Jeez, Ben, you're a journalist; you should know this. A quick scan of some other articles on that 'news' site reveals a strong anti-homosexual, anti-abortion, right-wing bias, with absolutely no back-up except porported 'interviews'. it's not a news site, it's a propangda mill.
  • All the folks moaning about loss of freedom have valid concerns, but they should be comforted by history.

    War in the US has always led to a curtailment of freedoms, as it must.

    We have our freedoms because we have won our wars. We have to make tradeoffs between freedoms and practicality.

    With all of these (horrors) attacks on our freedoms, we are still far freer than we have been for most of our history, and more free than most of the rest of the world.

    Yes, we have to be vigilant, but let's not be paranoid. Too many people on the net seem to be spoiled by never having been in a time of turmoil or genuine war. But we are at war now. There are people who have killed more of our citizens than in any attack in our history! And they hit civilians.

    So keep an eye out, but knock of the absolutism and the whining. You aren't going to lose your rights unless the bad guys win. If they win, you will either convert to Islam, or die. And for females... well, bad news, eh?

    The goal of radical islam is to convert the world to radical islam. Not normal islam, but a twisted, semi-marxist, extremist form of islam. And that is the enemy, and they are willing to die for their cause.

    So why aren't you willing to let the government do its job. I think DMCA is more of a real threat than these security rulings.

    • War in the US has always led to a curtailment of freedoms, as it must

      Fine. When Congress passes a formal Declaration of War (not just a namby-pamby "use of force" resolution), then we can discuss the possibility of reducing my civil liberties FOR ONLY AS LONG AS THE FORMAL STATE OF WAR EXISTS. Even then, they'd better have a damn good rationale...
    • War in the US has always led to a curtailment of freedoms, as it must.

      Must Japanese-Americans have been imprisoned during WWII for the crime of having Japanese ancestors? What about pacifists who were imprisoned for saying that killing is wrong during WWI (even before the US was involved)? The preservation of freedoms is the must, not the curtailment. People become concerned because the US government has such an abysmal record of upholding the rights that they are legaly required to enforce.

  • Couple other sites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday September 20, 2001 @12:09AM (#2323572) Homepage
    Seems this is an appropriate place to toss out a couple of new attack-related sites.

    First, Jane's Security [] has some ideas about who may be behind this attack... and it ain't bin Laden.

    Second, Political Cartoons [], a collection of attack-related cartoons. Some are worth a second look: you can draw opposing interpretations from them.

    The Dalai Lama's [] letter to Bush. Worth reading twice: it's short, and important.

    Bush's Language []: why calling this a "crusade" is rather foolish.

    Also, I'd like to apologize for a previous post in which I used the word "accident" in lieu of "attack." My mind was somewhere else, and I think it was trying to fool itself about the atrocity of the attack.

    This can be a sick and cruel world, or a world of joy and life. I encourage you to encourage others to choose the latter. Let's stop the hatred within our own communities, as we try to stop the hatred between nations.
    • An Israeli source quoted in the Jane's article:

      "To fight these bastards you don't need a military attack," said an experienced Israeli commando officer. "You only need to adopt Israel's assassination policy."
      Oddly enough the U.S.'s ban on assassination only applies to heads of state. Normal folks like you and me and Saudi expatriates are fair game. Lucky us... we can shoot the perpetrators on sight.

      No matter who is found responsible (individual or state), I want two things to happen:

      1. We should make very sure that we investigate thoroughly so that we can be guaranteed that we find the truly responsible parties.
      2. The punishment for those parties should be both cruel and unusual.

      Not to denigrate the Dalai Lama or his gentle philosophies, but the most hideous and prolonged death imaginable is too good for the people that did this. The last people that attacked us in a major way were taught a severe lesson, and they are doing very well now. A similar lesson should befall these terrorists. Although a nuke would be far to quick for them. (My meanest side imagines something involving alkalai in mucous membranes, electricity in contact with areas of concentrated nerve bundles and slow decompression in a publicly displayed venue. Slowly choke them with pork genitalia, I don't care. Just make it bad.)

      If we don't do something harsh, then we're essentially inviting them back for another go at us. The Israelis may seem harsh on the ten o'clock news for all their bombings, air strikes, etc, but they have the right idea: You can never appear to be weak, you can't reason with the fanatical, and you must always teach that action begets reaction. For example, I guarantee that if we had a policy of always sacrificing hostages in order to kill hostage takers then we would have had fewer hostage situations over the years. But terrorists know we're soft and sentimental and our leaders are driven by public opinion. And they know they can do whatever they want to us because for the last 50 years we've lost our resolve.

      The U.S. talks big, but that's about it. Read bin Laden's thoughts on the U.S.'s role in Somalia for a good example of this. Kosovo is another boondoggle and we got (are still getting?) lucky. Iraq was a fluke: we were up against a known enemy (of cowards, as it turned out). Without a tangible, easily-identifiable boogey man, we aren't as effective. Because we're too wishy-washy. One American gets killed in a ground war by someone nobody even saw and the mother of Private Didntduck is on TV crying with Diane Sawyer two nights later. Then the President has to start worrying about opinion polls. Ask the Israelis how they handle things. Something bad happens and they start breaking things and killing people, which is really the military's only real purpose anyway.

      And about Bush's language: Screw them if they are still pissed about the Crusades. Pardon my French. The President isn't a man of many words (and what words he does have aren't very long), but now isn't the time to mince them. We shouldn't be overly concerned with anything but finding and slowly exterminating the people responsible for this. Anyone that honestly cares about what an Afgan leader thinks of the word "crusade", or some war that ended 800 years ago, has priority adjustment issues.

      I'm really not overly reactionary by nature (honest; I'm a easy going geek guy who's fed the homeless and rescued injured animals from certain death), but I'd sincerely like to show the architects of these attacks what sick and cruel really is. Anyway, I'm the only one that has to live with my thoughts of UltraViolence since the rest of the country will wind up being pacified with a resolution or three, dramatically reduced civil liberties, and a kangaroo court in which the most symptomatic of solutions to future terrorism are engineered.

      I'm predicting we're in for more hatred and violence, primarily done unto us -- not as we should do unto them. That we'll never do anything meaningful or substantive... like put away all the thoughts of flowers and fluffy things and try to actually come up with a solution to the problem of why we're going to be the biggest terrorist target on the planet. The bad guys will just hit us some place else, knowing that there really aren't any negative repurcussions whatsoever to their actions. Joy and life are great, but not when dealing with madmen whose stock in trade is everything but. You have to speak in their terms. If Ghandi was destroying parts of major U.S. cities, then we could talk about cycles of hatred and whether violent response is proper. What we're dealing with here are the Pol Pots of the 21st century (although 13th century might be more appropriate in some ways). Harsh lessons need to be taught.

      Anyway sorry for the long, unintended rant. Your post touched a nerve. It's a messed up world and I'm a little upset at people right now.


    • by Merk ( 25521 )

      Many of the political cartoons compare the events of 9/11 with Pearl Harbor and quote part of the famous "A date which will live in infamy" speech. This makes me wonder, have there been any speeches we will all remember this time?

  • "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    Benjamin Franklin, 1759.
  • You know, you can't have it both ways. Either the acts of Sept. 11th were "war", or they were "terrorism". If they were "war", then perhaps its right for the US to go to war, but what is the war against? War itself? It wouldn't be the first time the country's government has been so inconsistent. If they were "terrorism", then why are we going to "war"? As many others have noted, the people who caused the tragedy of Sept 11th have real issues with the policies of the US government. If what you want is to declare war on those who have such grievances, go ahead, but its a huge number of people. If instead you wish to pursue the perpetrators of these hideous and cruel acts, I'm with you, but thats not "war" - thats an international criminal investigation. Trying to redefine such an activity as "war" to satisfy the most venal of human emotions, revenge, is a cheap trick. It won't bring us closer to finding the perpetrators or to a just and peaceful world in which these sorts of activities, on one scale or another, no longer happen with depressing regularity around the globe.
  • A long-term solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dido ( 9125 ) <[hp.muirepmi] [ta] [odid]> on Thursday September 20, 2001 @12:27AM (#2323631)

    Disclaimer, I do not live in the United States. I live in a third-world backwater country which has a severe domestic terrorism problem, at least in the southern provinces...

    Military action and curtailment of civil liberties as "solutions" to the terrorism problem are all ultimately temporary fixes, designed to treat the symptoms, not the disease. If the United States and its allies in the First World don't attempt to go beyond short-sighted military retaliation, they're going to lose this war even more badly than they lost Vietnam. Military response is a good thing here in the interim, but it must be combined with a wholistic strategy which addresses one of the main roots of the problem:


    This is the biggest single reason why terror groups exist. The rest of the world feels disenfranchised and oppressed by what it perceives to be a big bully ramming policies down their throats which are designed to enrich him at their expense. Those of us who live in the third world, know that this accusation is not without basis. I am not justifying their approach to terror; I am giving what I see is the fundamental reason why these groups turn to violence. They feel unempowered, unable to control their own destinies; September 11 was the greatest blow they struck in this mad attempt of theirs to take the power back.

    Terrorism has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, and has everything to do with power. Terror groups hide behind the mask of religious fundamentalism, but no major religion in the world countenances the acts of September 11.

    Capture Osama bin Laden and they will have chopped one head off the Hydra. Two more will grow back in his place. The only way to defeat the hydra will be to attempt to change US foreign and financial policy to truly attempt to aid the nations of the developing world instead of screwing us over and enriching themselves over us. If the United States and the developed nations can truly be seen to be making a positive difference to the destinies of the developing world, then it will be much harder to motivate people to perpetrate acts of terror.

    Attempting to restrict civil liberties within the developed world is another particularly short-sighted response to acts of terror. Such restrictions on civil liberties are probably going to increase not decrease, the incidence of terror, as it will also increase the ranks of the disenfranchised and oppressed within your country as well, and domestic terrorism will probably become all the more serious. But of course, this is exactly what the control freaks in your government want, as it will give them more excuses to further perpetrate their reign of terror.

    A real long-term solution to the problem of terrorism will be to revise and rethink your foreign policy. If your foreign policy were not so baldly corporatist, so baldly and arrogantly benefiting the few at the expense of the many, international terrorism would begin to decrease. Naturally, military and police action would be a good thing, but it is ultimately a short-term solution only. That only sows fear, and ultimately all fear can be overcome, as the terrorists who crashed their planes into the WTC proved to us in the most graphic way possible.

    The world is still big enough for all of us to live peacefully. But if some nations insist on grabbing the lion's share at the expense of those who have none, then there will be conflict, there will be violence, there will be monstrous acts of terror. They know they can't take on the United States head-on, Iraq proved that, so they will attempt to wage a world-wide guerrila war. World War III is here, but it looks like no other war in all of history. The only way to win it will be to change the rules.

    • A real long-term solution to the problem of terrorism will be to revise and rethink your foreign policy

      I'm all for revising foreign policy, all the time, and all countries should do this, even the 3rd world country you claim to reside (I come from the so called 3rd world too).

      But saying that that will discourage fanatical terrorist is a big mistake, as you'll always piss off one group with whatever decision you make !

      In addition, there are some things in our policy that should not change, and you shouldn't give in to the terrorist demands. For example, Bin Laden advocates the overthrow of non Muslim governments and calls for their replacement with "just" Muslim ones.

      I don't know about you, but I'm not about to be force converted and bow to a Taliban like religion.

      So revision, yes. Change as a response to terrorist, heck no.
      • Of course. I am not saying that we should EVER bow to terrorist demands! That's a sign of weakness and a sign that you can be controlled. What I am calling for is justice and equitable treatment in international relations.

        It will not be enough to satisfy everyone, of course. Bin Laden and fanatics like him will not be happy even then. But his recruitment pool will become a lot smaller because the world begins to see that the developed world is really doing its share to promote the well-being of the greatest number. If less and less people feel oppressed and unempowered, unable to control their own destinies, then that will leave the TRUE fanatics out in the cold, and no one will see them as anything other than what they are: desperate madmen.

        This is not an approach that is supposed to tame those murderous fanatics. You see, it seems that the typical Afghan recruited by Al-Qaida is not a murderous fanatic when he comes into the fold. He comes in there because he has no hope, and Al-Qaida has been able to offer him that hope for, if not a better life, at least retribution against those who had made him as miserable as he has become. The masses of them are not arch-militants who won't be satisfied until the whole world is under the vicious brand of Islam promoted by the Taliban. They will be satisfied if they can only live reasonably ok. Make these miserables that make up the huddled masses of the world less miserable, and the real fanatics will be left shouting at their own shadows in the dark.

        • Eliminating poverty in the Middle East ?

          Now that's a good goal, but extremely hard and long term. Plus, we'd first have to eliminate poverty in our own country (if not continent).

          However, even that wouldn't be the "magic bullet". Bin Laden is super rich, and I bet you the Taliban leadership is "rich" by Afghani standards.

          Sure, these hypocrits are not the ones blowing themselves up, but they'll always find weaklings to brainwash and do their dirty work.
    • Poverty is one problem, but pouring money into these countries will do little good unless you also change their tyrannical governments and their stifling religious life. The Marshall Plan after WW II was a great success because Western Europe was democratic and upheld basic human rights, including religious freedom. Certainly, much more money has been poured into Africa with very little success.
  • I think the absolutism is destructive, even though my personal views are somewhat absolute in favor of freedom. And there *is* precedent for serious danger allowing the abrogation of some rights. It's often proved to be a mistake, but not always. Think about what the secrecy of the Manhattan project meant. Also realize that security succeeded mainly because nearly everyone on the project (and the press) wanted it to, not because of the threat of legal penalties or efficient government surveillance.

    One proposal might be to put time limits on everything that impacts the Bill of Rights. Every six months, or a year say, they are required to reargue and renew the legislation.
    Another way these laws could be made more safe is to limit their application to terrorism specifically.

    I suspect it will be better to argue for reasonable limitations to these laws so that we can undo them more easily, and fear them less, than to argue with a quite understandably scared congress and citizenry. It will only get worse when there is another attack. We need to fight a battle we can win.

    One thing we have to do though, is argue strongly and vehemently against anything that is counterproductive. Like weakening our personal, banking, or e-commerce encryption. Like using racial profiling without any probable cause. Like stifling peaceful protest. It would be unpatriotic not to point out that such ill-considered proposals would amount to shooting ourselves in the foot.

    People are scared, some of the terrorists, some of the government. In a democratic republic you work it out to something both can live with -- not call the other side evil and unamerican.
    • Time limits are a joke; look at copyright limits. Every twenty years we extend them another 20 years. I got serious money that in 2020 when Mickey Mouse will again face being put into the public domain we will once again, retroactively extend copyright term. History has shown that most temporary measures become permanent. It's easier to "extend" the time of the limit (keep status quo) than have any change.

      You saw the vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force []. Many of the representatives and senators didn't agree with it... but they voted for it anyway beacuse they didn't want to be seen as: "Soft on terrorism". What makes you think these same congress people (or their replacement) will be "soft on terrorism" in 5-10 years from now when the limits expire? Let me give you a clue brick... they won't.
  • The strong cryptography genie is out of the bottle. No law passed here will prevent usage of currently available products or future production of crypto by other countries.

    However, it is well known that security is like a chain. A single broken link exposes the secrets, and cryptography is just one (very strong) link. There are many other weak links available to the government when they need to snoop. Just ask that mafia guy who recently got a free FBI keyboard sniffer.

    I foresee the TLAs (three letter agencies) getting heavily into activities that circumvent the crypto measures that criminals and non-criminals attempt to use. They'll employ tiny electronic bugs, chemical tracers, Tempest snooping (eventually packed into portable devices instead of vans), computer trojans and worms, real-time monitoring of all global financial transactions, traffic analysis of the entire Internet, cell phone GPS data, face recognition, DNA sampling, etc. But most effectively, they'll hire a lot more spies who use social engineering techniques to just trick people into telling them what they want to know, or who infiltrate the bad guys' organizations.

    I'm sure the spooks already know this reality, and they know that no criminal would ever use new broken crypto when old or foreign working crypto is available. Crypto backdoors are just the reaction of some clueless politicians. Likewise, too many people believe that if they have strong crypto then they have privacy.

  • All this breast beating by us geeks about freedom of speech and back-doors in encryption software is very nice. I got to watch all the good stuff real time, fun, no? I have friends who I will never see again, family who are most likely crippled for life with massive head trauma, and kids who want an explanation. Why is daddy crying? I live not too far from the WTC and get (-- notice, not past tense) to smell it. By the way, not too far is the other end of Brooklyn. Look at the space shots of the plume of smoke. It looked like it was snowing here. I would like to make several points that can be responded to separately, as they don't really have a thematic thread.

    1) These guys don't use email and electronic communications a lot, the important stuff happens face to face. Most of this stuff is irrelevant

    2)news is breaking that our old friend Saddam Hussian may have funded a lot of this. We may be back in Bagdad.

    3)We are human and the people we appoint to govern are human, The only two real ways to protect American freedom is a free press and each of us taking an active part in our goverment, not just bitching on slashdot about it.

  • This whole topic is moot. The US Constitution has now been suspended. In an egregious stretching of legal interpretation way beyond the breaking point, the US Government asserts it can detain legal immigrants indefinitely, without due process, Habeus Corpus, or a speedy trial. Nothing like this has happened since the Japanese internment camps in WWII. Here is the announcement: es ser/index.html

    Constitutional rights are guaranteed to all RESIDENTS of the USA, not just citizens. Equal protection under the Constitution is now just a memory. Bush has trampled on our most sacred political documents.

    "He who would sacrifice a little bit of liberty for a little bit of safety deserves neither." - Benjamin Franklin
  • Flag Burning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slim ( 1652 ) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Thursday September 20, 2001 @04:54AM (#2324154) Homepage
    It might be worth pointing out to the non-Americans reading just how freakily attached to the Stars and Stripes Americans are. (or maybe, worth pointing out to Americans how unusual their preoccupation with the flag is).

    In the USA you can buy a national flag in every supermarket. I don't know where I'd go to buy a union jack flag (as opposed to a t-shirt, whatever) -- I'd probably have to find some sort of specialist ceremonial goods shop...

    There was recently an interesting TV series called 'The Tourist Trap', wherein each episode a group of holidaymakers from a single country were exposed to a series of events designed to test their reactions. One morning, the holidaymakers awoke to find their national flag in ashen tatters, and their hotel deserted. The Brits reacted with nonplussed bemusement, a few giggles. The Japanese didn't really know what to think, teh Germans were stoic. The Americans threw an absolute fit; you'd have thought someone had killed their grannies...

    I'm not criticising anyone, just pointing out some cultural differences...

    Wasn't a law against flag burning the theme of the "Amendment to Be" song that replace Itchy and Scratchy in one episode of The Simpsons....?
  • Since we're all geeks here, let's try to move this debate onto technical topic. It's my judgment that the existence of steganography means that any ban on encryption will fail to thwart terrorists or any other criminals that law enforcement is attempting to monitor. And that's why I conclude that there should be no further restrictions on the use of encryption -- the bad guys will always be able to hide their messages, so a ban would only restrict people who have legitimate use of encryption.

    If the government really wants to gain something by preventing the use of strong encryption with unescrowed keys, they'll have to go on to forbid the exchange of images, audio, and any other data with enough noise to hide messages. I don't see how this could ever be possible, not only in terms of civil liberties, but also as a matter of sheer practicality.

    So the technical question is: Is it conceivable for law enforcement to detect hidden messages by analyzing Internet traffic? I know that stego is not necessarily easy -- if it's done poorly, patterns can indeed be detected in a file's noise, indicating that there's a hidden message in there. But my understanding of stego is that it can be done well enough to make message detection on a large scale completely impractical; enough to make a ban on encryption pointless.
  • Freedom does you no good when you're dead.

  • would only physical flags be protected, or would it also be illegal to have a screensaver that has a animation of a burning flag (possibly superimposed upon the text of the First Amendment) ?

    what about video coverage of a physically burning flag? would possession of that that be illegal? or maybe just watching a video like that would be illegal?

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle