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View Diary: The US Flexible Concept of National Security (64 comments)

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  •  Oh, a big shopping mall would be JUST the target. (0+ / 0-)

    One obvious aim of the terrorist is to spread panic and dislodge the public's sense of safety. What better target to accomplish that than to invade a large American shopping mall - urban or better, suburban - where people are comfortable and feel safe and engage in the American dream of buying things.

    But my main disagreement is over your central point: that "plain ordinary police work ... which we have had for decades already."

    I don't think "plain ordinary police work" "applies equally to terrorists and carjackers" at all. (Frankly, it's probably inadequate to deal with either, for very different reasons.) After-the-crime law enforcement - catch-the-perp police work - and all the protections we've built into the criminal justice system does not have much to do with crime prevention. Hell, we have trouble preventing carjackers and purse snatchers. Yes, we have laws dealing with attempts and conspiracies, but check 'em out. Such charges are typically employed in connection with more fully consummated crimes.

    I think the public expects police work to be more than after-the-fact ... rightfully expects that. It's not irrational to reconsider security in the wake of 9/11, the global reach of non-state threats, technology-empowered criminal activity and acts of mass violence. The "kids" with that pipe bomb you referred to killed hopes and dreams of a lot more people than they murdered.

    This does not justify the full bore of the Patriot Act.  This does not justify broad declarations about a "War on Terror" or even broad brush use of the word "terror," but it does justify serious consideration of whether the traditional "CSI" tools are adequate.

    I believe, along with President Obama, that we have a balance to strike between security and liberty. Those aren't extremes. They overlap.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 11:28:10 AM PDT

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    •  Yes I have always thought (0+ / 0-)

      that shopping malls would make an easy target. That happens in places in the Middle East where terrorism is somewhat prevalent. The fact that we have never had an incident like that in the US leads me to conclude that terrorist as presently defined, are a very rare thing in this country. We have far far more to worry about from domestic gun nuts exercising their 2nd amendment rights.

      •  Agreed as to guns and gun nuts. But ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... planes flying into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon hadn't happened before either. (Planes had flown into buildings, to be sure, but so far as I know, not by terrorists.)

        How is a "terrorist" or a domestic terrorist to be defined? My online dictionary's first entries are as follows:


        A person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims.

        [And terrorism is defined as "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."]

        ORIGIN late 18th cent:  from French terroriste, from Latin terror ... The word was originally applied to supporters of the Jacobins in the French Revolution, who advocated repression and violence in pursuit of the principles of democracy and equality.

        I personally do not believe the aims have to be "political" in any restrictive sense of the word. I think striking fear, for example, or advocating by asserting a right to violent arms or making a violent social protest are reasonable applications of the term "terrorist."

        Terrorism is not "a very rare thing in the United States." I think Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were terrorists, as were Ted Kaczynski, Jared Loughner and the Tsarnaev brothers. I think those who threaten abortion doctors are edging very close to the notion of terrorists.

        [In any event, not using the term "terrorist" may be like the Carter White House directing noted economist and "Inflation Czar" Alfred Kahn not to use the term "recession" because it scared the public. So the puckish Kahn announced he would use the word "banana" instead, changing it to "kumquat" when the banana interests objected.]

        It is a reasonable question whether we need tools and mechanisms different from those employed by traditional law enforcement and criminal justice processes to meet the threat of dangerous kumquats. I think we do. I don't think the Patriot Act as written is necessary. But more than we are doing today? My answer is Yes.

        2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 01:31:06 PM PDT

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        •  There is a simple explanation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for the planes flying into the WTC - sloppy airline security. Once that was tightened up it hasn't happened again. It was supposed to have already been in place.

          •  Ah, well that cares for our vulnerability? (0+ / 0-)

            The only meaningful security airports have is when you're boarding. And ... How about shipping ports? Privately chartered aircraft? Home grown assembly of explosives? There's precedent for each of those.

            Look, I'm not trying to call out that the sky is falling, but I am not at all sanguine about relying on laws that are encrusted with the notion that, "If the constable has blundered, the criminal must go free." Fine as far as it goes, but the modern criminal has modern tools some of us think the constable must not be allowed to use.

            I read many commenters on Kos who suggest we obliterate any new form of data gathering because the old and established ways are just fine. Because everything can be handled by good police work and all the criminal justice learning that deals with post-commission of crimes. Heaven forbid that law enforcement use the same technology that empowers those who would do us harm, unless they have already identified their potential perp and the potential offense so as to justify a warrant.

            These issues need airing. It should not be an open and shut point based solely on past learning, however suspicious we may be of that constable.

            2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

            by TRPChicago on Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 03:31:41 PM PDT

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        •  The military and security services like the FBI (0+ / 0-)

          had long known about flying aircraft into buildings and the worry that "terrorists" might do it. It was no surprise to anyone except the ignorant, meaning most of the Bush administration.

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 03:51:34 PM PDT

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    •  The Fourth Amendment practically demands (0+ / 0-)

      that police work be after the fact.

      What would you have police do?  Arrest people for thinking bad thoughts?

      Or should we encourage more of the FBI phony attacks where the FBI recruits a guy, provides him with a car, a fake bomb, a fake igniter and then sends him into a building the kid didn't even know existed until the FBI showed it to him?

      That crap is just an absurd waste of our time and money.

      Yes, good old-fashioned regular police work. Maybe better coordination between departments. Maybe more efficient communications in the field. Maybe better investigative tools and crime labs.  But yes, regular police work.

      Perhaps, in a few, very rare cases -- very very rare cases -- the special forces or a drone might be needed for one very dangerous and real potential threat.  

      But the vast majority of this stuff is just regular police work.  Even in the case of Boston, the FBI just failed miserably at looking into people whose names were handed to them on a silver platter.

      What kind of technology or other solutions will ever come to the rescue when the FBI cannot even figure out what's going on with a couple guys whose names are handed to them with the "terrorist" label attached?

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 03:50:04 PM PDT

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