Spend the money on Intelligence not Scanners

What knee-jerk reaction must not be allowed to do, however, is to take attention way from the paramount importance of intelligence in terror prevention. None of the bombing outrages committed or attempted to date came entirely without some kind of warning on the intelligence radar. They could have been prevented if there had been better co-ordination of information both between security agencies both domestically and internationally. All the scanners and profiling in the world will not make up for that basic deficiency.

In America we would call this the Editorial opinion of the newspaper the Independent (an online UK news source). Politicians are doing what politicians do — try to stay in office by responding to neurotic emotional voters (Putney, “Normal Neurotics”) of the voters. Because of massive flaws in the Intelligence system — the Crotch Bomber who was on the UK Intelligence radar and on US Intelligence radar wasn’t on the “no fly” list — but a whole lot of people who should NOT be on that list . . . are on that list. The system failed — because there is too much information which takes HUMANS to decide what and who are relevant.

Dominic Lawson of the online UK news source, Independent writes about the over enthusiasm of police officers who now seem to consider innocent behavior such as taking photographs as somehow threatening. This is just one example showing how the databases  that are supposed to be used to catalog and track  individual, are now crammed with useless information. The Intelligence/spy/police agencies had a reasonable plan in the beginning — create a list of individuals who could be a REAL threat or danger who need watching. But as Dominic Larson writes, “If we are all under suspicion, then we are all threatened.”

This is the background which makes the way in which a Nigerian man was able to detonate an explosive on a transatlantic flight all the more irritating – and it would have been vastly more than irritating if Mr Abdulmutallab’s home-made bomb had ignited as he intended. It turns out that, following an explicit warning by his father to the US authorities about his “extreme” political views, Abdulmutallab’s name had been put on a security watch list, known as Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (Tide). Now, guess how many names are on this list. A thousand? Ten thousand? No, this list, according to Washington officials, contains more than half-a-million names.

So no wonder Abdulmutallab was not subject to any special concerns by officials as he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day. If, through sheer bureaucratic over-enthusiasm the authorities have managed to create a list of over half-a-million possible terrorists (perhaps including a handful of Austrian bus-spotters) they might as well have an invisible list with no names, for all the use it will be.

If we are almost all potential terrorists, then we have entered a world of such morbid suspiciousness that none of us can feel safe: exactly the inverse of what our masters’ policies are supposedly designed to achieve.

This is a Story that will not go away for many reasons on many levels.

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