What do we know? What can we know? What price are we willing to pay to know?
with me here for a
bit. You know me and my over-use of analogies.
have thousands of highly-trained meteorologists scattered around the
globe, armed with the fastest supercomputers gobbling up real - time
data from both
manned and unmanned
outposts -- ships,
buoys, planes and satellites. That entire arsenal's singular mission
is to predict the weather, especially extreme weather, so that humans
can be ready if the worst should happen.
the worst still happens all the time :
Tornados rip through the M idwest
and P lains
every year ;
hurricanes tear up the Southeast and Texas;
and/or droughts ravage...
The batting average for th e
assemblage of weather analysts and their machines remains sketchy, at
only reason I mention th is
is because the same thing goes for another very similar "predictive
assemblage "-- our
have no problem with anything the weather-intel folks are up to,
because all they are doing is trying to figure out what Mother Nature
is up to. But the government's intelligence agencies are another
matter entirely. They want to know what "we" are up to.
we discovered this week -- as
though we haven't suspected this all along -- the
US intel agencies, particularly the National Security Agency, have
decided to place their
data - gathering
"buoys" throughout the sea of electronic data, and from
well up into the streams and tributaries that feed that sea...
including the tiny creek that runs right through the computer you are
reading this on.
gave them the right to do that? Well, we did. Yes ,
flash, 9/11 turned cocky ,
Americans into a mob of scared school girls. We went screaming to
"Daddy , "
demanding to be kept safe from "terrorists." Spare us the
details, we said, and just get-et [?]
for a moment and compare that response to how the Brits responded to
years of terror weapons raining down on their cities during WW II.
on 7 September 1940, London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57
consecutive nights. More than one million London houses were
destroyed or damaged, and more than 40,000 civilians were killed,
almost half of them in London. Ports and industrial centres outside
London were also heavily attacked; the major Atlantic sea port of
Liverpool was the most heavily bombed city outside London, suffering
nearly 4,000 dead." (Source:WikiPedia)
had never felt such a blow. But, unlike the Brits ,
rather than panic stood up, strapped on a pair, and just kept on
keeping on, we freaked out after 9/11. Four
and 3000 dead, and we went to pieces.
ashamed, Americans ,
very ashamed. One attack -- tiny
by comparison -- and
our first response is to offer up our freedoms in return for
so came the Patriot Act -- likely
the most un- American
piece of legislation ever passed by Congress and signed into law by
an American president. It was slapped together by panicked government
employees, passed by politicians who were far more terrified of their
terrified constituents than they were of actual terrorists, and
signed into law by the dumbest man ever to serve in the Oval Office.
did that --b ecause
it came to pass that nations too can only "reap what they sow."
We sowed the seeds of a surveillance-state and, like Jack's beans, it
grew to the sky. And now we are shocked, simply shocked, by the