What does the TSA do though? Ban printer cartridges on planes. WTF?! I thought this was a success? Now it's being treated like a failure?
I'm waiting for the first congressman to openly call out the TSA as a terrorist organization. He or she will get my vote for the rest of my life.
Great article Mr Schneier, couldn't have said it any better.
No, it wasn't. Saudi intelligence provided the tracking numbers for the parcel bombs. All the billions of dollars that we've spent on airport security did absolutely nothing. As Schneier as argued before, if you secure the one route the attack just comes from another route.
"We can reopen the Washington Monument when we've defeated our fears, when we've come to accept that placing safety above all other virtues cedes too much power to government and that liberty is worth the risks, and that the price of freedom is accepting the possibility of crime."
Sometime ago we turned from a species of brave explorers into one of coward couch potatoes.
When we finally give them our world, I hope the cockroaches have better luck.
Sometimes you do the job you want to do. On some other times, you do what needs to be done.
But that's a ridiculous issue, really. Bruce will never be offered the TSA.
If the people that founded this country lived by this, they never would have left Europe.
People who founded the US risked their necks and property fighting the most powerful empire on Earth, they probably wouldn't be very impressed by those few terrorist here and there.
We can agree or disagree over whether to support the goals of a given terrorist group, just as we can agree or disagree over whether their methods are legitimate (for the record I do not condone violence, even in pursuit of a legitimate end). However, it's hypocritical to decide whether someone is a terrorist based on the goal of their terrorism.
Like all terrorists, the founders of the USA used both violent and nonviolent means, including property destruction, sabotage, assaults, propaganda and so on, for the purpose of overthrowing the government and establishing their own rule in is place. Again, we can agree or disagree over the legitimacy of both their motives and their means, but the facts of their actions are not in dispute.
Precisely, hence my objection. My objection to the original statement is not based on the goals, as the statement below implies:
"However, it's hypocritical to decide whether someone is a terrorist based on the goal of their terrorism."
When we discuss terrorism, we're talking about a tactic. You've described that tactic well above. My objection is based on the fact that I am not aware of any specific activities on the part of the founders of the United States whose goal was to inspire terror in the populace at large. The primary tactics employed ranged from civil disobedience and sabotage (e.g. the original Tea Party) to conventional warfare (e.g. Bunker Hill).
If you are aware of specific actions conducted by the founding fathers prior to or during the Revolutionary War whose only purpose was to inspire fear amongst the general population, please do cite them.
Otherwise, I don't believe the categorization of the founders as terrorists is supportable.
If he got on the plane with the bomb in the first place, doesn't that imply the system doesn't work?
I think that means part of the system had a failure, but that failure did not propogate catastrophically. If anything, this is reminiscent of a working AND resilient system.
The "keep bombs off of planes" system failed.
The "keep folks from blowing up bombs on planes" system succeeded.
Note that the former is what the US govt is claiming to do while the latter was entirely the doing of random folks on the plane.
Do we have any instances of air marshals stopping anyone? I ask because both the shoe and underwear bomber were handled by ordinary people.
the Ultimate Goal is to create and maintain as much of an ideal society as we can pragmatically attain. An ideal society has no crime. In Canada we've realized we can't entirely eliminate crime, because many of the more drastic measures to "get tough on crime" have harmful side-effects that take us further away from the ideal society, not closer towards it.
We take the same arguments towards cigarettes, alcohol, automobile speeding, and children in swimming pools. Draconian measures that would increase our safety--like banning tobacco, prohibition, stringent requirements to obtain and maintain a license to drive, or banning personal swimming pools--actually move us away from our ideal society, not closer.
We have to "Play God" and agree that someone, somewhere, must die as a result of terrorism. We as a society already do that with our respective health care systems, with our automobils, with the sale of alcohol and tobacco, with the sale of guns, by allowing children to swim in swimming pools,and the ridiculous ease with which we allow people to obtain and drive vehicles.
The ultimate goal is to define what it means to be a Canadian or an American and then to live as much of that life as possible. The argument is whether the goal of zero airplanes downed can be achieved without compromising our Canadian or American identities.
I'll leave it up to others to argue whether strip searches and banning toner cartridges will achieve this.
There will always be a tiny fraction of people that want to harm others. Whether it is because they have an agenda or are simply crazy (or likely both), they will always exist.
We have the choice of whether we want to sell our liberties and freedom for the illusion of safety from insignificant, yet inevitable, risks.
I assume that they weren't. If we can't afford to put air marshals on every flight, that's a weakness. (It may be a reasonable weakness given the cost, but it's still a weakness.)
Note that the deterrence argument of air marshals assumes that folks who are willing to die are unwilling to spend time in prison. That may be true, but I'd like to see some evidence. (The deterrence argument is how you get from "air marshals on x% of the flights protects more than x% of the flights".)
There are always other passengers on passenger flights.
All it takes is a terrorist bright enough to try and set light to their bomb in the toilet rather than sitting surrounded by other passengers while fiddling with a fuse and lighter, and the system has failed. These attacks are failing because the chosen attackers are stupid, not because the system is effective.
Air Marshals. 4.2 arrests per year average, $200m per arrest. A very, very expensive comfort blanket.
Everything else is security theater.
You can only reject the robustness principle ("Be conservative in what you send; be liberal in what you accept." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robustness_principle) if you can completely control the input 100% of the time.
I blame the cable-news rating frenzy for the over-reaction to 9/11. Everyone saw those planes fly into the twin towers. "Something drastic had to be done!", the pundits declared... and here we are. CNN got some ad revenue, and you have to let a rent-a-cop grope your balls to get on a plane. We defeated the terrorists for sure!
The idea is to prevent planes from being hijacked or destroyed and passengers and crew to be harmed.
Besides, military planes routinely carry bombs and hardly experience any problem with them
And, to top that (as someone else said before) the only reason he was able to get into the plane was that his bomb was not a functional one - it would be very difficult to take down the plane with it.
The question on things like the TSA policies is one of degree and not absolutes. So his claim that we should “conquer our fears because they are the real problem” doesn’t hold a lot of weight with me. Fearing a terrorist attack is perfectly rational the question is how much liberty we’re willing to give up to prevent such attacks.
So painting this as a “living in fear” vs “not living in fear” question doesn’t really address the problem.
Beyond that there’s the issue of disagreeing respectfully. Though he couches his point in flowery language the purpose of this type of article is to demonize the people who disagree with him. “They are the fear mongers and I am the rational one” is the point he’s making. He’s just making it in a way that sounds nice. That type of statement doesn’t lead to productive discussion and it certainly doesn't do anything to convince people who disagree with him (people who I assume are the intended audience here)
How much liberty are you willing to give up to prevent automobile accidents? children drowning in swimming pools?
Both of these kill far more people every year than terrorist attacks against americans. Why is it ok for thousands of people to die every year from drunk drivers, yet I have to take off my shoes at the airport?
Schneier's point has consistently been to fight terrorism effectively. Spend our money and resources in areas that actually reduce terrorism and deaths, rather than areas that appear effective, yet are ultimately worthless (taking off shoes, 3oz liquid restriction, TSA circling things on your boarding pass)
I'm willing to give up the liberty to not wear a seat belt and to not go as fast as I want to prevent the majority of accidents. I'm willing to give up the liberty to not put a fence around my pool to prevent most children from drowning. But I'm not willing to let the Government take my car entirely or say I just can't own a pool. So again, as I said in my original point, it's a question of degree not of absolutes.
As far as your last paragraph that's you projecting. No where in his piece does he talk about methods that are and are not effective. The word effective isn't in the piece one single time.
The whole point of a post like this is to try to re-frame the topic in the minds of people who don't yet agree with you. So while it might be clear to you and it might be clear to the author it's obviously not clear to everyone or there would be no reason for this piece to be written.
So if the author's intent was to alter the perspective of people who don't agree with him he shouldn't write under the assumption that it's a clear cut issue (if that's in fact what he was doing)
"...the question is how much liberty we’re willing to give up to prevent such attacks."
Indeed, that's exactly right. Or, to phrase it another way: how much fear are we willing to endure to preserve our liberties? That question is politically out-of-bounds, because the idea that we should respond to fear with courage, rather than ever-increasing security measures, is not acceptable to politicians (either Democrats or Republicans), the Washington press corps, etc.
"That's what it means to "conquer" fear: to control it, rather than letting it control you."
Well I'm sorry but that's silly in practical application. Fear does control us. I don't cross the street when the red hand is up because I fear getting hit by a car. That's not irrational.
It would be irrational if I NEVER crossed a street for the same reason. So again this reinforces my original point which is these things are a question of degree and arguing "against fear" is pointless and counterproductive.