Category Archives: Terrorism

Censorship Connected with Violent Terrorism

turkey_kerincsiz.jpg Over in Turkey:
Kemal Kerincsiz, the lawyer who tried to prosecute Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, Elif Shafak, and several other writers for “insulting Turkishness,” has been arrested with 32 others following an investigation into a weapons cache discovered in Istanbul last year.

That investigation uncovered evidence of active plots to assassinate Pamuk, three politicians, and a prominent journalist and to stage a series of bombings in the coming year, according to reports appearing in the Turkish Press. One source, CNN Turk, has reported that Kerincsiz and twelve others have been charged with inciting people to armed revolt.

Pamuk Prosecutor Arrested, Charged in Plot, PEN American Center, January 28, 2008, seen on Bruce Sterling’s Beyond the Beyond.

I wonder how many other cases like this there are?


Fear of Flying and Fear of Terrorism

fearofflying.gif Here’s a good way to think about it:

…jet travel is safe enough that when someone suffers form fear of flying, he is asked to seek treatment. Flight attendants don’t grab the microphone and say, "We have someone on board who is afraid to fly. This means we are all in great danger." Yet in regard to terrorism, the most frightened voters are being allowed to dictate security policy. Unless you are personally anxious, you are considered unrealistic in the face of the terrorist threat, and politicians feel forced to be "strong on security," meaning that they must appeal to fear rather than to courage, patience, and trust. Therefore, it is up to each individual to nurture those qualities at home and spread their influence to others. Security is a quality of consciousness and always has been. Now is the time when personal security needs to come forward to counter mass insecurity.

How to Feel Safe and Secure (Part 2), Deepak Chopra, Huffington Post, September 28, 2007 | 03:21 PM (EST)

Or, as Bruce Schneier keeps saying, "refuse to be terrorized."


Web Panopticons: China and U.S.

panopticon.gif Fergie points out a university project investigating censorship:

The "Great Firewall of China," used by the government of the People’s Republic of China to block users from reaching content it finds objectionable, is actually a "panopticon" that encourages self-censorship through the perception that users are being watched, rather than a true firewall, according to researchers at UC Davis and the University of New Mexico.

The researchers are developing an automated tool, called ConceptDoppler, to act as a weather report on changes in Internet censorship in China. ConceptDoppler uses mathematical techniques to cluster words by meaning and identify keywords that are likely to be blacklisted.

University Researchers Analyze China’s Internet Censorship System, News Report, Government Technology News, Sep 11, 2007

So the Great Firewall of China watches what users are doing by actively intercepting their traffic. Meanwhile, back in the U.S. of A., how about a passive web panopticon?

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Liability Waiver?

Speciality Insurance Blog points out that liability waivers, while increasingly popular, may not protect governmental entities from gross negligence claims.

That doesn’t stop governmental entities from using them even in the grossest cases:

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq , by George W. Bush, The White House, 17 July 2007

You’ve got to admire the chutzpah of promulgating a blatantly unconstitutional directive (see Fourth Amendment) and ending it with a liability waiver.

And there’s always suppressing the evidence, as in FEMA trailers outgassing formaldehyde.

Risk management includes watching what’s going on.


Laugh in the Face

fireworks.jpg Bruce Schneier reviews a paper that explains why terrorism doesn’t work. Examining 28 foreign terrorist organizations (so designated by the U.S. State Department), the author notes:
First, the groups accomplished their forty-two policy objectives only 7 percent of the time. Second, although the groups achieved certain types of policy objectives more than others, the key variable for terrorist success was a tactical one: target selection. Groups whose attacks on civilian targets outnumbered attacks on military targets systematically failed to achieve their policy objectives, regardless of their nature.

Why Terrorism Does Not Work, by Max Abrahms, MIT Press Journals, 2006

Why? Continue reading