Liberty, security, state

Many quotable points from Bruce Schneier's 2004-02-15 CryptoGram.

In Toward Universal Surveillance:

Last month the Supreme Court let stand the Justice Department's right to secretly arrest non-citizen residents. Combined with the government's power to designate foreign prisoners of war as "enemy combatants" in order to ignore international treaties regulating their incarceration, and their power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or access to an attorney, the United States is looking more and more like a police state.


Unfortunately, it's rare to hear this level of informed debate. Few people remind us how minor the terrorist threat really is. Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn't really prevent terrorism. And where's the debate about what's more important: the freedoms and liberties that have made America great or some temporary security?

Important questions that are not getting debated.

In The Politicization of Security:

Rational security is not the sole purview of any political party. Fighting stupid security does not have to be partisan. Bush's White House has done more to damage American national security than they have done to improve it. That's not an indictment of the entire Republican party; it's a statement about the current President, his Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. It's a statement about the current political climate, where the police -- and I use this term to encompass the FBI, the Justice Department, the military, and everyone else involved in enforcing order -- and their interests are put ahead of the interests of the people. My personal politics on non-security issues are not relevant.

Ever heard that using ID does not increase security? Here's why.

Another excerpt:

Security is a trade-off; we have to weigh the security we get against the price we pay for it. Better trade-offs are to spend money on intelligence and analysis, investigation, and making ourselves less of a pariah on the world stage. And to spend money on the other, non-terrorist, security issues that affect far more Americans every year.

I disagree with the "make ourselves less of a pariah" part. Can't be done. Doing the right thing is never a sure route to popularity. I really don't give a damn about others' opinions.

Good set of links, including The Economics of Privacy and Sharky's Network Security Tales.

Written by Andrew Ittner in misc on Sat 21 February 2004. Tags: commentary, government, privacy