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 How (Not) To Catch A Terrorist
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Posted on 08-09-04 9:32 AM     Reply [Subscribe]
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How (Not) To Catch A Terrorist August 2, 2004 Imagine that there are "sleeper cell" terrorists burrowed deep inside America -- all of Tom Ridge's dire warnings come true. Through e-mail, cell phone and fax, they have selected key targets. A week before your attack date, a key Al Qaeda operative is captured in Pakistan. Of course any intelligence from the Pakistanis is suspect, as they need to provide a constant stream of goodies to stay within the good graces of the White House. But presuming the sources are unadulterated, the latest capture has yielded a mother-lode of information, including a computer with detailed attack plans. Following the pattern of classic police procedures, you would expect FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security to set up a sting to capture the "sleeper cells", if they do exist. Instead, in a surreal montage, first Tom Ridge, then Mayor Bloomberg went on air for a full-dress press conference explaining which targets Al Qaeda was planning to attack. On Monday morning, I woke up to a city in full Orange Alert mode, with helicopters circling my Brooklyn neighborhood, and dire warnings on television. Once again, Ryder trucks were being searched on Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. The frenzy was capped by the New York 1 reporter telling breathless audiences that there were almost as many TV cameras on Wall Street as there were police officers. As I turned off my television, I wondered what terrorist in his right mind would now seek to ram a truck into Wall Street, after watching all of law enforcements plans laid bare on the TV screen. Or did Tom Ridge think terrorists didn't watch TV, and it was fine to broadcast all terror preparedness out loud? Walking to the subway, I noticed many people reading the free METRO newspaper. Picking it up, I realized there was a list of potential targets in the paper, including Citigroup, and Prudential. A few minutes after I reached my morning meeting, my cell phone rang. It was an international call from a BBC Radio show in London where I was a frequent guest. They were doing a show on the Terror Alert in New York and wanted me to comment on the "feeling on the streets." "Tell me," asked the show's host, "how are people coping?" Coping? Most people seemed to be going about their business, blasý about all the warnings. Like the case of the boy who cried wolf, are people getting numb to terror alerts? The issue continued to bother me all day. Why is Homeland Security broadcasting all their plans, instead of working covertly and quietly to capture terrorists? There are two possible and overlapping explanations. First, this is classic cover-my-ass syndrome. Since the massive intelligence failure that led to 9/11, all agencies have been scrambling to escape any fallout. Repeated terror alerts allow everyone to be covered -- should anything actually happen, we'll hear the chorus of "We Told You So." Second, there is a belief that ordinary citizens will be able to "spot" terrorists and alert the authorities. But other than scrutinizing any brown person on the trains, what else is an ordinary citizen really equipped to do? The recent hoopla by Annie Jacobsen on the Northwest flight with Syrian musicians shows the average person's mediocre ability to spot suspicious behavior. On the same day as the Orange Terror Alert, President Bush endorsed the idea of a single Intelligence Czar. This left me even more puzzled. Isn't that Tom Ridge's job, and if not, what is the difference? In spite of increasing surveillance power, the sum results of the last three years seem close to nil. The Special Registration Program to register Muslim men ran for a year and then finally shut down amidst protests. CAPPS and other programs for color-coding airline passengers were similarly shuttered after privacy advocates cried foul. How long before the effectiveness of the Terror Alert system is also questioned? Meanwhile, really common sense steps (like eliminating trash cans from airports, as has happened in some European airports) are neglected in favor of adrenalin pumping exercises that alarm citizens but capture no one. We are still in the era of, as the 9/11 commission called it, "failure of imagination." All anti-terror activity is focused on following past tactics, while terrorists will surely come up with new methods. Does anyone really believe that shoe-bombs will be tried again? To fight terrorism requires law enforcement doing their job quietly and without fanfare. It does not require constant terror alerts, or new powers to arrest people without due process.
Posted on 08-09-04 9:00 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Exactly my line of thoughts...
Posted on 08-09-04 9:27 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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This is the one I heard when I was in New York City.. "TERRORISTS MAY BE TARGETTING A MAJOR ATTACK ON THE WASHINGTON STATE BRIDGE THIS MEMORIAL DAY... But remember - don't let the terrorists win - and go have a good time outside!" It reminds me of the test they did on a pig and a dog. Both ended up having the same conclusion. Every time there was a square - the pig was shocked. Every time there was a square - the dog was rewarded. Every time there was a circle - the pig was rewarded. Every time there was a circle - the dog was shocked. So, the scientists did this for months and slowly morphed the circle to a square and the squares to a circle. Once they were fully mixed, or close to it, the pig and dog broke all the electronics (they were hooked up to wires and whatnot), ran out of the room, and squeeled or barked violently until they had to be tranquilized or caught (!!) Moral of the story -- don't fuc*ing mess with ANYONE'S head. We'll go crazy. First annoyed... Then crazy.
Posted on 08-10-04 9:13 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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This really doesn't have anything to do with the thread, but nuts' post reminded me of one of my favorite psychology experiments of all time -- probably because it reminds me so much of one of my friend's life in the military. So here goes: They put 5 monkeys in a room with a banana dangling from the ceiling and a ladder leading up to the banana. Of course, one monkey goes and grabs the banana, and the scientists spray all the other monkeys with cold water. Wet monkeys are pissed off. Fat monkey is happy. Banana is replaced. Another monkey goes to get the banana, and all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water again. Wet monkeys are pissed off. Wet monkeys are also getting smarter. So the next time a monkey goes for the banana, the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. This continues until none of the monkeys will go near the banana. The scientists then replace one of the monkeys with a new monkey. New monkey goes for the banana and gets his ass beaten. When the new monkey will no longer go for the banana, they replace another monkey -- and so on until all the original monkeys are replaced. In the end, five monkeys are sitting around a banana that none of them will touch, and none of them knows why. I think it's a fascinating study of institutionalized society.
Posted on 08-10-04 9:42 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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SUPERB! Well said! i think these colors are nothing but a political game.... haha and you know one time they said, Al queda might have domestic conncetion, or something abt ppl from Other countries other than Arab world are involved in Al queda..or whatever...have u even thought if Al queda touches and inpires local gang, how would they look like...haha streets would be filled with Osama style junkies, with long beard , and they would start saying "Allah Ho Akhbar" and scaring ppl away...haha.. that would be funny, "hey bittch, u know what Allah said, give me all ur money and say "allah ho akhbar" ..haha..ok did i make sense ??

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