links for 2006-08-14


You missed something big in what I assume your assumption is about the "comments". Like most folks who doubt this was real, I would think that you are thinking the IED was to be made from common drugstore items. That's not what the threat was about, the IED would be contained in common drugstore items.

When was the last time you had you coffee or water bottle checked for trace chemicals?

Computer? Sure, Aquafina? Never.

Posted by ThinGuy on August 13, 2006 at 11:46 AM PDT #

Not at all. I expect whoever the anonymous and unaccountable person is triggered this alert was convinced it's real, and probably has a basis for believing it - the "impossible" comments were not the interesting ones, and the natural geek reaction to focus on the plot rather than the motivation is inevitable. I don't doubt that there are many, many inventively evil ways to attack people.

However, as you'll detect from many of the links I've been posting, I believe this activity is politically motivated and moves the needle over the line of acceptability concerning intrusiveness and suspension on personal liberty.

As Bruce Schneier has indicated, increased inspection does not lead to increased security or decreased probability of attack. It's high time we moved on from institutional fear and started addressing the causes as well as the consequences.

Posted by Simon Phipps on August 13, 2006 at 11:55 AM PDT #

Everything is politically motivated. Hopefully the motivation is inspired to protect the people they serve.

I'm a centrist at heart, but I can't help being a little more right with all the conspiracy theories out there.

Here's a little Video you might want to watch

There's a lot of hate in the world right now that both sides are trying to cover up with political motivation.

Posted by ThinGuy on August 13, 2006 at 12:08 PM PDT #

Simon, I think you are right to see this as another pressure point applied to civil liberties in the UK. I don't think most Americans would have the first clue how intrusive and unchallenged the UK Government is now in every day life, and how there are dozens of ways they can track your every movement and action. I read an article about search engine and Internet privacy in Saturdays NY Times and how American Civil Liberties were concerned. If they spent anytime in the UK, they'd be apoplectic. I'm sure that there was a genuine concern that caused the current restrictions, what I'm concerned about once commercial pressures force these to be backed off, is what new draconian measures will be bought in to "protect us". Sadly in the UK theere will be little debate and almost no way to repeal them. Meanwhile here in the US, some 2-years later, I'm still taking flights with just my UK Picture drivers license for ID. The TSA Agents have no idea what this is but it looks genuine. Hertz though won't rent me a car using it(\*), I have to have the accompanying paper license. (\*)Gold service excepted.

Posted by Mark Cathcart on August 13, 2006 at 12:24 PM PDT #

So Mark, should we just let \*it\* happen?

I've said it before, \*they\* don't play by the rules. In fact \*they\* depend on our rules for theirs.

Posted by ThinGuy on August 13, 2006 at 12:33 PM PDT #

So let's assume the next way someone tries to attack a plane involves an explosive gel in a condom that gets triggered by cabin pressure and that suicide bomber "mules" swallow them and then board flights. Is it OK for everyone boarding any flight for the rest of eternity to have to spend 14 hours in isolation before boarding to prevent the attack? Are compulsory CT scans OK? Just how many layers of enforced "security checks" are OK for the sake of a statistical improbability which is being fought because of the political embarrassment caused? How much fear-mongering is acceptable in order to create a populace disposed towards right-wing politics?

The problem here is that there is more than one cynical plot in progress, and they are feeding on each other with our complicity. I have seen the deep, mindless hatred of the various parties involved in the Middle East and it appals me just as the same hatred on all sides in Northern Ireland used to. But I have also seen the cynical and manipulative nepotism of many western governments and their incumbents.

For me, the answer is to try to treat the cynical behaviours separately and not follow Bin Laden into the 'Slough of Despond' which is his goal. That place lays at the end of a path where actions cynical, hateful and selfish on the part of otherwise disconnected groups are woven together into a braided barrier that eliminates the society I value.

Posted by Simon Phipps on August 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM PDT #

Well....Those "mules" would never get on the plane if we would focus on behaviors instead of bags.

Posted by ThinGuy on August 13, 2006 at 01:04 PM PDT #

Thinguy, no one said we should just let it happen. I think you are getting two things slightly confused, security and the UK Government incroachment into civil liberties, and their increasing ability to control and monitor every facet of our lives.

As Simon postulates, no amount of security can be enough to stop the determined bomber. Most of us are more than happy to play by the rules, its just "them" that won't. No amount of new rules will stop them, but they continually take away our rights and privalleges.

At what point should we, the law abiding majority say enough, and require the government to focus on the minority?

Is profiling wrong? Probably not. Would it solve all the problems? Probably not. Would certainly start focussing efforts on the prolem? Definately.

Why can't a 64yr old, 20-generation UK lady take a book and her reading glasses in a case onto a plane? Why can't I, a relatively publically visible, with specific patterns of travel, and a 48yr old white business man take my laptop and a bottle of water on the plane?

Holding up everyone, searching everything won't work. So this isn;t about letting it happen. Its about letting the UK Government take away civil liberties with no debate and ultimately for no acceptable reason.

Posted by Mark Cathcart on August 13, 2006 at 01:42 PM PDT #

I'm not confused, I just think we are all in a lose/lose situation.

Try to crack down and you effect the life and liberty of the average person (or worse be called a racist).
<BR Try to keep status quo and we expose ourselves to more threats. Just as the conservatives are now proclaiming that things like the patriot act and NSA wiretaps are the very things that exposed this plot (and the US right is on every channel pushing for the same "tools" the UK police have), should another large scale terrorist act occur the liberals will be pointing out how these things didn't protect us.

I don't know what the answer is...I guess I am confused.

Posted by ThinGuy on August 14, 2006 at 12:02 AM PDT #

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Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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