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  Daily Column, September 14th 
  Sep 14, 2001, 08:30am EDT 
 

Fighting Terrorism?


By: Sander Sassen

Billions of dollars spent on intelligence, not only in recent years, but also over the past decades. Money spent on agents, computers, observation and research but above all we’ve bought into a false sense of security. A false sense of security? Am I forgetting that our intelligence machine is the most powerful in the world, and has more computing power and signal analyzing capabilities than any nation has ever had in the history of mankind? No, I haven’t, but what good does a supercomputer do you if it’s sifting through millions of emails and the terrorist simply posts ads in the newspaper to coordinate with his fellow terrorists? For example 'Male, 30-years old, looking for female companion employed as an office worker in the WTC..' We're so hung up on our technological supremacy over other nations that we expect others to use these tools against us, and come up with all kinds of ways to break into our computers or other doomsday scenarios.

In cold, hard reality nothing is further from the truth. These terrorists don’t have the resources or the finances to be able to best us in these areas, so they most likely wouldn't even try. They probably wouldn't be using any modern means of communication at all, as they know they’re being monitored, as is all communication to and from the United States. The Western World seems transfixed on the idea that technology will have an answer to all questions, but I think it needs no further explanation that all of that technology could not prevent the hijacking of four commercial airliners and the death of many innocent American citizens. Throwing more money at the problem, and thus further investments in computers, software and analysis will not offer a solution, but will probably mean that we’ll be loosing even more civil rights when the intelligence agencies demand they get more privileges to poke around in our private lives.

A recent poll being held amongst the American public indicated that many would not object having to give up some of their civil rights in order for the government to be better able to protect them against terrorism. Nonsense, as we’re again buying into a false sense of security, more monitoring of our communications, maybe even cameras on every street corner brings us only closer to the doomsday scenario as described in the book '1984'. If a terrorist or a terrorist organization doesn’t use any of today’s modern means of communication, no email, no cell phone, no fax. But rather sends postcards, uses supermarket bulletin boards or posts ads in the newspapers to coordinate their attack(s) all the monitoring in the world is not going to help us. Even more so, the proposed rocket shield will yield no results either, do you really think that a terrorist nation will launch missiles against us, missiles than can be tracked the very second they leave the ground. Do you really think that they'll risk their whole country being turned into a moonscape that very same evening? I doubt it, terrorism is all about covert ops, stealthy operations and leaving as little evidence and traces as possible.

As for airport security the very same applies. Throwing more money at the problem will not safeguard us from future attacks. The only thing you can do to prevent future hijacking of airplanes is to simply abandon commercial aviation, which is a solution we're not willing to live with. Tighter security and more law enforcement in the airports will surely have a positive effect on the public appeal, its feels a lot safer. That's just because the thought of bringing a bomb or a weapon aboard doesn't often cross the mind of a regular traveler, as he's got no reasons for doing so. The terrorists do, and for them it doesn't really matter whether there's one or ten law enforcement officers present at the check-in lobby as they’ve got a cause they're fighting for and those officers will not make them less determent in following through with it. When there's a will, there's a way, that saying does really apply here, we cannot safeguard ourselves 100% from these attacks, all we can do is minimize the risk and thereby make sure they will happen less frequent, but we will never be able to rule them out. This doesn't mean we shouldn't take a good look at airport security though, that certainly deserves our attention.

International cooperation on counter terrorism is a good start, if we give these terrorists no safe place to hide, no safe harbor to practice and plan their schemes we might be able to rid ourselves from terrorism partly. But as history has shown, in Israel and Palestine, Ireland and even in the US now and in the past, we will never be able to rid ourselves from terrorist activity completely. In the following weeks and months we'll have to see what the US and the other nations come up with to fight terrorism, one thing is for sure, terrorism now has a face and a name and will be fought relentlessly all around the globe.

Sander Sassen

 

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What really astonished me... Sverre Sjøthun 4 replies Sep 16, 2001, 09:37am EDT

 

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