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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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  • by Plasmoid ( 8367 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:25PM (#2323400)
    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.
  • by Mandelbrute ( 308591 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:32PM (#2323433)
    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.

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:51PM (#2323516)
    Damn straight.

    It's tough to understand what happened. If it were a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a comet, we could deal with it, grieve, and move on. But no, in this case we can take revenge.

    It is still difficult to understand. Lacking any rational scaffolding to grab on to, people naturally revert to their own pet peeves, crypto, gays, corporate greed, whatever. It becomes an excuse to flame at anything you hate.

    Civil Liberties are the same as ever. Fuck Trent. Fuck Gephardt.

  • A long-term solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dido ( 9125 ) <`dido' `at' `'> 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.

  • by broter ( 72865 ) on Thursday September 20, 2001 @03:54AM (#2324074) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by nashira ( 248769 ) on Thursday September 20, 2001 @01:07PM (#2325875) Homepage
    Neil Postman discusses in this text [] whether Aldous Huxley or George Orwell were right about the future of humanity (Americans, if you prefer). Here's an excerpt:
    Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

    The text, actually, is the foreword to his book: Amusing ourselves to death.

Torque is cheap.