Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: terrorism

A monument to our fears

Securing the Washington Monument from terrorism has turned out to be a surprisingly difficult job. The concrete fence around the building protects it from attacking vehicles, but there’s no visually appealing way to house the airport-level security mechanisms the National Park Service has decided are a must for visitors. It is considering several options, but I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears.

Bruce Schneier absolutely nails it in Close the Washington Monument.

Glenn Greenwald on the Christmas tree bomber

Count me among those who are not impressed with the avalanche of self-congratulation that we’re seeing in response to the arrest of a would-be terrorist who attempted to execute a plan created for him by the FBI. Glenn Greenwald weighs in with a note of skepticism about the whole sad affair. Perhaps I’m a bleeding heart liberal, but it’s hard for me believe that the most worthy action for the government when it discovers a teenager who may be sympathetic to terrorists is to put him up in his own apartment and induce him to attempt to commit an act of terrorism so that he can be arrested.

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.

Conservatives who love terrorists

Glenn Greenwald has an important blog post on the latest smear campaign by the terrorist-loving right:

As I noted yesterday, the group run by Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol released what is certainly one of the more repugnant political ads of the last decade, if not the most repugnant. It’s the type of McCarthyite act which would, if we had any minimal standards in our political culture, result in the shunning of Cheney and Kristol by all decent people (instead, it will likely land the Vice President’s daughter on multiple Sunday talk shows where she can pose as an expert on national security).

Some Republicans launched a smear campaign against the lawyers now employed by the Justice Department who once represented detainees at Guantanamo. This is the product of a deep cynicism that compels them to try to gain political power by capitalizing on people’s fear of terrorism.

What they’re really attacking is the Constitution, which guarantees everyone a fair trial. They’re not arguing a principle — they’re just trying to destroy people through insinuation. The bottom line is that this sort of garbage is always going to be persuasive to a certain type of idiot. Don’t be an idiot.

Oh, and the reason I say they love terrorists is that without the terrorists to use as a foil, they would have no path back to the positions of influence they so desperately crave. They want Americans to embrace unlimited Presidential power, expansion of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if they’re really lucky, a new war with Iran. What they need for more people to agree with them is more, increasingly spectacular terrorist attacks. And don’t think that in their black hearts, they don’t wish for that at some level.

Zakaria on the underpants bomber

As for the calls to treat the would-be bomber as an enemy combatant, torture him and toss him into Guantanamo, God knows he deserves it. But keep in mind that the crucial intelligence we received was from the boy’s father. If that father had believed that the United States was a rogue superpower that would torture and abuse his child without any sense of decency, would he have turned him in? To keep this country safe, we need many more fathers, uncles, friends and colleagues to have enough trust in America that they, too, would turn in the terrorist next door.

Fareed Zakaria in Don’t panic. Fear is al-Qaeda’s real goal. That’s the smartest thing I’ve read on the underpants bomber to date.

Links from January 26th

Links for April 7

  • Scott Horton: Worst. President. Ever. What interests me most about the list is that every President other than Bush (43) who could be described as the worst ever was a single termer. Bush’s main competition, Millard Fillmore, was not elected in the first place (he took over for Zachary Taylor, who died after 16 months in office) and did not receive his party’s nomination when his term expired. With Bush, we’ve had two terms and the Republican nominee wants to continue all of his worst policies.
  • Bruce Schneier: The Liquid Bomb. Some details of the liquid bomb plot are revealed. Could the plan have actually worked? Based on an extremely interesting stream of comments, I’d say that the particular plans hatched by the would-be terrorists could not have worked in a million years (they didn’t even test the explosives they planned to use), but that the general plan could have potentially worked (maybe) in the hands of terrorist masterminds.
  • The College Board has eliminated one of the advanced placement tests for Computer Science. There are two exams, and the more difficult of the two is to be discontinued. Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia has a lengthy article that describes the composition of both exams.

Links for April 3rd

Links from March 13th

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