Strong opinions, weakly held

Things we do to innocent people to prevent terrorism

Here’s a non-comprehensive list of things innocent people have suffered in order to prevent terrorist attacks on America:

Seems odd to me that some people are so much more offended by a couple of items on this list than they are by all the rest.


  1. I do not feel safer.

  2. So which is the greater evil? A handful of lunatics in the mountains, or a state armed to the teeth with tanks and planes and bombs and personnel and cash and torturers and lawyers to make it all legit every time it kills hundreds of thousands of innocent people in pursuit of its goals?

  3. The issue is to do with the number of people that may be inconvenienced or offended, and whether or not those who will be not be directly affected can identify with those who are.

    The more serious items listed toward the end may have only affected a small number of people who, largely, are perceived to have a vastly different identity from the stereotypical american. They are perceived outsiders so many don’t care.

    However, the most recent changes have an effect on people inside. Now, not only are you offending those who do care but also those don’t care for those outside of there own group. Furthermore, those people who are already offended, by the actions against other groups, get offended in a more personal way.

  4. Seems odd? it shouldn’t

  5. I do not consider my rights violated when a TSA agent pats me down. I DO consider my rights violated when I look out the window of my plane and see the ground rushing up to me at 500 mph with flames shooting out the back. I have a solution to pat downs. TSA hires only extremely good looking men and women, and if you are going to be patted down, you get to choose which one does it.

  6. @Dave, There are things in this world that are worse than dying, and for many people in history, one of those things was living in a police state. The people who founded this country believed that it was better to take up arms and risk their lives than to live oppressed. You aren’t much in that proud tradition. People like you used to be ridiculed and called yellow.

    Why we can’t have nice things —> Dave

  7. Uhh… We waterboarded three people. None of them were innocent.

    It’s pretty interesting to see that their “innocence” is being compared to the truly innocent people who have to remove their shoes to go through security.

  8. Dave, in the last 10 years, fewer than 4,000 Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks in the US. In the same time, more than 150,000 Americans have been killed in homicides. I have to assume you are also in favor of the elimination of all limitations on police,, random roadblocks and police stops at any time, and searching of your person anywhere and anytime.

    The removal of all our civil rights would save a lot more lives if it was done on every street corner rather than every airport. But somehow, it doesn’t seem worth it.

  9. We have a representative form of government. So when the government seems corrupt, is it actually because of corrupt officials, or are they correctly representing a corrupt electorate?

    Answer: No difference. Our rights are violated because we have a nation of people like Dave who would throw away their rights at the first hint of trouble. None of this “Land of the free and home of the brave” stuff for them, no sirree! They gave their responsibilities to the government and they don’t want them back for any reason.

  10. You liberals are all nuts! Just clueless.

  11. Recommend adding: “Prohibit non-ticket-holders from the gate.”

    Growing up I have very fond memories of escorting my friends and loved ones to the gate and waiting with them, seeing them off for a flight. This is as recently as 1995. Seems like yesterday; I haven’t flown in 10 years now.

    Notice how f*’n atrocious at math the pro-scanner people are. They’re probably lottery ticket buyers, too.

  12. RandyB – “Uhh… We waterboarded three people. None of them were innocent”…Really? Are you sure? Or was their treatment so extreme that they were willing to say whatever their captors wanted them to say so it would stop… Oh, I forgot… we get nothing but the truth from the media and the government. They’re here to help.

  13. I propose a good libertarian solution: offer people the choice of flights which have “enhanced” security and those that do not. You can only get on an enhanced security flight if you are willing to go through the backscatter x-ray thing, but so has everyone else on that flight.

    Would many people choose a non-enhanced security flight? I have no idea.

  14. Really? Name an innocent person who was waterboarded..

  15. From the source on Predator drone strikes: “the available evidence on the CIA’s Predator campaign suggests that it is neither inefficient nor disproportionate in terms of civilian casualties”.

    But for people who think the waterboardees were “innocent”, they may see this differently, too.

    Maybe it’s a good thing Rudolf Hess is dead now. Otherwise, he might also be called a “victim” for what the British did to him, and the lawyers and “human rights” activists would be lining up to take his case.

  16. “….fewer than 4,000 Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks in the US. In the same time, more than 150,000 Americans have been killed in homicides. I have to assume you are also in favor of the elimination of all limitations on police . . . “

    Making handguns illegal in the US would do as a start, I think. Anyway, Tom equates reduction of civil liberties at airports with a police-state level of civil repression to reduce homicides. Not sure one can really equate homicides with terrorism in this way, but lets play it out: I’ll be interested to see the response to this – a link-up between some BB liberals and the NRA – it will be interesting to see how comfortable each party is in supporting the other.

    “Get rid of security at airports – its a restriction on civil liberties because 4,000 is nothing compared to 150,000 and we are all happy about the homocides” “Thats right brother – hands off my assault rifle – its a restriction on civil liberties otherwise”

    In other words – just because you support the fairly unpleasant levels of security at airports doesn’t mean you are right wing, or wish to renounce civil responsibility – both assumptions are made in the comments above. It might be simply that its acceptable if it reduces the risk of flying with a suicide killer.

    The efficiency of the security checks, that IS something to complain about. Tax dollars are being blown on poor checks so we get the intrusion without the security. Now thats offensive.

  17. You don’t understand, it’s ok to do do these things to brown people!

  18. The government only admitted to waterboarding three persons. The destruction of CIA tapes of waterboarding eliminated any evidence to the contrary.

  19. Ahhh, so members of Al Qaeda such as KSM are innocent until proved guilty (even though the Geneva Conventions do not require that level of proof for holding war detainees), but the CIA is guilty until proved innocent. It’s nice to see that spelled out.

    It’s funny how the critics of Bush’s war policy once claimed to care the most about the Geneva Conventions.

  20. @anon: Do you freaking think that the “bad guys” care if hand guns are illegal?

    Franklin said: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

  21. China is very safe. Perhaps we should adopt their policies.

  22. We were terrorized by our own government on 911. The “official report” is full of holes. The twin towers and WTC 7 were controlled demolitions and it is scientifically impossible for the towers to collapse because of fire. All of these security checks at airports are the beginning to the gradual removal of our personal freedoms.

  23. 5000 Americans per year are killed because of ‘distracted drivers’ AKA on their CELLPHONE!!! Cellphones kill more Americans than terrorists yet NOBODY does anything about it.

  24. I keep saying it, because it’s true: The average American is more at risk from bacon than from terrorism.

  25. It’s very sad to see people who care about rights being called clueless idiots. Opinions are opinions. Are we really idiots because we understand the facts differently than you? Are we really clueless because our priorities and preferences are different? I really don’t think so.

    I mean really, believe me when I say I’ve thought my preferences and priorities through. I prefer my liberties to my security. I would personally feel much safer if security were pared down. I’d appreciate the opportunity someone mentioned above to have the option to either go through security or not, on separate flights, of course. I often think about that ideal reality for me, which of course prompts the question: What if I were on a plane which’d had minimal security requirements to board, and a terrorist tried to blow it up? Certainly I would be afraid. Certainly I would wonder why I had decided to opt-out of the high-security plane. Christopher Hitchens, quite probably dying of cancer, I think put it perfectly. He said that if the cancer had spread to his brain, or if he found himself in so much pain or so full of fear that he was no longer recognizable as himself, he could not guarantee that he would not say under these conditions that he had found faith in god. “No one recognizable as myself would ever make such a remark.” I have to say that I agree. Were a terrorist about to blow up my plane, I would be afraid. I would probably call out to god. I would probably wish that I had taken the high-security airplane. But these thoughts would only pass through my mind under these conditions, of extreme stress and fear, and as such the person thinking those thoughts would not be “recognizable as myself.”

    So to you who prefer security to liberty, I don’t take issue with you. You are afraid, and you have a right to be. But please, don’t insist that fear is the only correct reaction to the threat of terrorism, just as I would never accuse anyone in favor of heightened security of being a clueless fucking idiot, as one commenter did. Your beliefs aren’t the only valid ones, and certainly not the only ones that it’s okay for people to die for.

  26. Don’t forget:

    • Abducting them from other countries you’re not in a war with, even from allied countries, in order to torture them. See Extraordinary rendition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_rendition

    • Making them live in horrible conditions, for example making their access to water much worse than before the war.

    Oh, and waterboarding should be on the list of torture techniques instead of being it’s own point, no?

    Otherwise great list. Interesting how this is seen as preventing terrorism, instead of being terrorism.

  27. @Ant – “You liberals are all nuts! Just clueless.”

    Thank you for your completely useless input Ant. You’re probably such a fool that you think all liberals are just trying to save the gay whales.

    Seriously, %$#@ you too.

  28. I don’t understand how some can feel liberty is being taken away when it comes to their wallets but are willing to give liberty away in favor of federal policing.

    The patriot act as well as Obamacare infringe on liberty.

  29. Let’s remove the “terror” from the equation and treat terrorism as just another cause of death.

    How much money has been spent trying to reduce the terrorism death rate, versus money spent reducing other death rates?

    In any one year, terrorism kills only a fraction of a percentage of the number of people who die from car accidents, unhealthy lifestyle, alcohol and tobacco, inadequate medical care and suicide.

    In terms of actual impact – the number of lives saved – my feeling would be that anti-terrorism efforts have shown the lowest “return on investment” of any mortality reduction campaign.

    And that’s before we even look at things like the loss of privacy and other civil liberties issues. And before we look at how American responses are increasing the appeal of action against them to some people.

    How is all this justified?

    It’s because this is not sold as a rational attempt to reduce the terrorism death rate. It’s sold on entirely emotional issues – safety, liberty, national security – and is more about pride and the principle of the thing rather than any reasoning. And so decisions are made on this emotional basis. It’s sold as a “war”, which everyone naturally gets emotional about (plus, if it’s a war, there must be an enemy, right?).

    The problem is, this is a war that cannot be won, and you can sink as much money and as many soldiers lives and as many civil liberties as you want into it, it will never end. You need a different strategy.

  30. We focus too much on airline security, fearing another traumatic 9/11 outcome, but that will likely never happen again, because of two things Bruce Schneier has pointed out:

    “Exactly two things have made airline travel safer since 9/11: reinforcement of cockpit doors, and passengers who now know that they may have to fight back. Everything else — Secure Flight and Trusted Traveler included — is security theater.”

    There may be other tragic plane bombings, but they will not kill 3000+ people. More people will die in car wrecks on the way to the grocery store each year. We only fear the plane scenario because we don’t feel like we are in control on a plane and the likelihood of surviving a plane crash is near zero.

  31. “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

  32. Imagine you’re on a flight and a small group of men began brandishing and threatening the crew and passengers with box cutting knives. What are you going to do? Sit there and allow these thugs to take control of the plane or are you going to attack them with whatever you have, bringing an end to this situation. If we’re not willing to put ourselves at risk on occasion to defend ourselves and those around us, do we deserve to live in an open and free society? The government can attempt it but really they can’t take care of us, at least not in any meaningful way. That responsibility is ours. In the above situation there’s a possibility of injury and maybe even death but as we all have heard many times that’s the cost of freedom.

    Why don’t we have air marshals on each plane to quell, with bullets if necessary, any attempted take-over? Why aren’t we screening the luggage thoroughly? It is nearly impossible to conceal a bomb large enough to take out a plane in our shoes or underwear. Why not allow people with conceal carry permits to board the plane with them just in case?

  33. One thing I have never understood about so called conservatives is how eager they are to give up their rights to perceived authority. That is the polar opposite of what conservatives are supposed to believe. It just confirms my view that conservatives are scared. That’s why they bellow so much and love authority. As a Marine with multiple combat tours and disabling combat injuries I feel like a fool for having fought for a government that treats their own citizens like this and a populace where so many are so ignorant and gullible.

  34. One other thing…someone is so foolish as to believe we have water boarded three people? Amazing. Really. I have been water boarded twice at two different SERE schools. It’s torture. Torture has made us weaker and cost many more lives than it as saved. Assuming it has saved any which I seriously doubt.

  35. Another tip courtesy of the US government is to strip yourself down to your birthday suit before going through airport security or they’ll do it for you, lawsuit about privacy rights be damned: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/11/19/do-the-new-tougher-airport-security-measures-violate-any-laws/

  36. It is not conservatives pushing for enhanced pat-downs and full-body-scanners. You might have noticed that the Democrats took the presidency in 2009, and Congress and the Senate a few years before that. In fact, a lot of conservatives opposed creating the TSA. It’s the Democrats who wanted more bureaucracy (and potential union members).

    The reason I can believe only three detainees were waterboarded is because: 1) CIA internal reports include acts which were not authorized, and what disciplinary action was taken. (This is what Holder was talking about when he said he was going back to re-investigate when they went out of bounds.) Everything was subject to investigation by Congress, and potential purgery charges and prison time if they made things up.

    2) Moreover, the Inspector General report on waterboarding doesn’t conflict with detainees’ stories that have been leaked by the Intl Red Cross. If there are other waterboardees, I’m sure we’d have heard by now.

    3) I don’t care if it was three or ten who’ve been waterboarded. I don’t think most of the public does either. The CIA only had 100 detainees, and only a third were subject to any enhanced interrogation at all. We’d be having the same argument if all 100 were waterboarded. There’s nothing to be gained by lying to Congress in secret testimony.

    You should still feel free to be suspicious, but that nullifies your second point.

    After all, if the critics are going to blame us for additional waterboardings (as well as the things others claim but probably didn’t happen either), I think it’s safe to say that we’d have been blamed for “torture” no matter what we did.

  37. The surveillance sector is a new golden egg to reap profits from.

    FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL. Somebody is gettin’ plenty rich off of selling F-E-A-R! and T-E-R-R-O-R!

    America goes into OTHER PEOPLE’S COUNTRIES and meddles in THEIR affairs and then we call THEM the terrorists.


  38. @Anyone who thinks having seperate “high-security” flights and “low-security” flights is a good idea:

    The saftey of the passengers on a flight is only a portion of the reasoning behind airport security. If you hadn’t noticed, airplanes can be used as giant missles, capable of killing thousands in a single moment. So when a “low-security” plane gets hijacked and flies into a stadium killing 20,000 innocent,unaware people, I hope you can be happy your individual liberties were at least protected right?

    Traveling on airplanes is a priviledge. When you buy your ticket, you are agreeing to abide by the rules and regulations of the organization that owns and operates that airplane, therefore, sacrificing any liberties you may have held before. If you do not wish to do this, DON’T FLY or buy your own plane and learn to fly it.

  39. I don’t understand what ANY of these people are complaining about. l’ve gone to concerts and been ”patted down” more intimately than l was at any of my recent flights, all to make sure l wasn’t bringing a joint or ”outside food and/or beverages” into the concert hall. God forbid someone bring a bottlle of water into a venue so they don’t have to pay $5 for a 16 oz bottle of water INSIDE the venue. But these are all things we, as citizens, WANT to do, flying included, to make our lives more pleasant or convenient, and so we deal with what we have to deal with in order to get through whatever gate we’re trying to get through at whatever place we want to be. Don’t forget, the airplanes themselves are private property…if the TSA didn’t bring us standard guidelines, the carriers could do whatever the hell they wanted in order to make sure their planes aren’t blown up–maybe they’d be even WORSE THAN (gasp!) a little patdown. Just wait ’til there’s another hijacked plane, then everyone will be complaining that the TSA doesn’t do enough.

  40. Most people that go along with this are a bunch of cowards. You don’t have a clue what freedom is. You think your free but are just sheep being led to the slaughter. Your just a bunch of good little socialist that have been taught from the first grade on up that the gov it there to take care of you. If the coffee is to hot well just sue the people that made the coffee, if it doesn’t say on the side of the box not to take internally and you do, you can sue them too. American’s have become a people with zero responsibility for their own actions. someone else is always at fault never ones self. If we didn’t live in such a nanny state we wouldn’t be going through this at the airport and the terrorist would not be getting on the plane. People would take responsibility for their own safety, they’d be more aware of their surroundings and when the terrorist was standing in line next to you, you do a little profiling and tell the authorities. Problem solved. But not us Politically correct Americans if I do anything like that they will treat me like Juan Williams and I won’t be part of the in crowd. Instead I’ll just go about my life with my government issued blinders on. I’ll keep telling myself what ever they do to me is for my own good even while they have their hand up my wife and daughters dress coping a feel. We have truly stooped to the lowest of levels to allow this to go on, and those of you that openly condone it are to be pittyed the most. If you will stoop to letting them do this to your loved ones then what won’t you let them do. Sooner or later all your justifications for being a coward will break down and the only thing you will be left with it the fact that your a miserable excuse for a human being for letting them get this far. Next thing for you is a ring in your nose.

  41. @I don’t understand what ANY of these people are complaining about.

    The federal government has nothing to do with your concert going experience. The airplanes are indeed private property. Not the governments! If airlines were responsible for the pat downs, they could also be held responsible for any damages that result. Giving the federal government this much power could lead to a UK style CCTV system. But you probably think thats a good idea as well.

    @FRANK C. You do understand that individual liberties is what makes America unique in the world right? The most safe, terrorist free places are all under government oppression. Even Israel doesn’t rely on blanket scanning and pat downs, and they are at far more risk of terrorist attack than we are. The more powers we give government, the less free we become.

    Yes, I would rather be killed by terrorists than live in North Korea or China.

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