...the US manages to piss off virtually every other nation on the planet, on a regular basis, it is hardly surprising that one of them bit back. Sad, sickening even, but not surprising.
Would this added intelligence really help, though? I doubt it. The complete failure of the "toughened" airport security to stop passangers and employees wandering through with everything from boxcutters to automatic firearms demonstrates that this kind of fight can't be won by filtering techniques.
But wouldn't it have given the authroities a chance to intercept these people, before they ever got near the plane? Unlikely. The interviews on various news stations, once the names of the suspects started being published, all showed that the locals thought these people "distant" but average, everyday folk.
How many "distant" people are there, in the US? Out of the two hundred million or so people, I'd guess maybe twenty million would fit that description. If you're going to monitor twenty million people, 24/7, for any "potentially subversive" activity (at least, in any way that is likely to catch those who are dangerous), you'd need sixty million people to process the data that was being collected.
Something tells me that, for all that the intelligence community is sizable, it falls a bit short of 60,000,000. (Computers won't help, with this, as computers aren't capable of that level of artificial intelligence. They can number-crunch, but this is about human psychology, not arithmatic.)
Ok, so let's work from the basis that intervention is impossible. What does this mean? Well, first, it means that these "measures" aren't aimed at countering terrorist activities. What they -are- aimed at is not clear. The PR value of them is high, but only until the dust settles. Of course, the increasing hype over the Anthrax cases is bound to help keep the dust stirred a bit longer, but it's going to settle. Sooner or later.
Secondly, it means that any "genuine" countermeasures will be in the form of containment, rather than prevention. The less a given person can do, REGARDLESS of how well-equipt or well-trained they are, the less meaningful any attack becomes. The terrorist might as well stay at home and watch TV.
Containment does not violate civil liberties, as it would make it perfectly acceptable to relax security in many cases. Provided you prevent opportunist attacks, you've all the active security that you will ever need. You don't need a police state, you don't need to control anyone to be safe. There's no real harm anyone can do, in such an environment, so all the impact that people can have is going to be neutral or beneficial.
This is one key thing that the currently proposed measures ignore, totally. Active security blocks ALL changes from the norm. ANY difference will be visible, suspicious and ultimately crushed. Conformity will be the only way. Social evolution will freeze. Society will stagnate and rot. Sure, it won't get blown up, but imagine America being turned into a psychological green ooze, as the minds rot, and worms come out of their brains. (Pink Floyd's "The Wall" is all about this path, and where it leads.)
Passive security, by simply ensuring that harm is contained to as large a degree as possible, does not go in this direction. Want to prevent people hijacking an aircraft? Simply segment the passanger cabins, and ensure that any segment can be isolated. You then ignore the hijackers completely. Sure, that might result in some people being injured or killed, but even a hundred people is less than five thousand, and even that worst-case scenario assumes that the hijackers would automatically "retaliate", once defeated. There is no real reason to assume they would. It seems much more likely they'd try to bargain their way to safety, which rather requires NOT harming those in their "care".
What about the anthrax stuff? Well, if there was a CDC center in each and every State, if the CDC received enough funding to be properly & safely equipt, and if adequate health-care was a reality for all, then germ warfare would be impossible, and natural outbreaks would be contained rapidly.
You cannot stop people from producing deadly diseases. It's too easy. Most diseases that are serious threats are native to America, and exist everywhere in the environment. A bit of filtering, a bit of feeding, and anyone can build a biological weapon of mass destruction in their own back yard. Having spy cameras, sattelite photos, wire-taps, etc, is not going to stop anyone who is serious. All it does is cost a lot of money, and make the Government look like a bunch of power-hungry school-kids.
The only way to protect against biological or chemical weapons is to ensure that people have access to clean water, healthy foods, adequate medical care, and have good, solid information on hygine, recognition of symptoms & how to tell if they're "just common stuff" or not, and how different diseases transmit.
Let's face it. If people ate good, nutritious food, got vaccinations as & when needed, and had access to doctors who cared more about promoting a healthy nation than their own healthy bank balance, the risk of ANY disease, of ANY source, would be substantially reduced.
What we are seeing is the very worst possible reaction. The resources needed to combat the ills of society are being removed, and replaced by a whip. NOBODY has ever recovered from ANY ill by being beaten. Even if they've been told they should.
Last, but not least, nobody but an insane lunatic would commit any of the heinous acts we've seen and speculated about. Given that, if the world had spent the same amount of resources, say, 10 years ago, on world-wide mental health, as it is now, in bombing the living daylights out of a bunch of goat-herders, there would be no Taliban, no bin Laden, no terrorist organizations. Because there would be nobody with any need to wreck revenge on the world for supposed crimes.
What we are seeing is the product of our own indifference to suffering. Whether that suffering is the person next door, or the person 10,000 miles away, it really doesn't matter. By being indifferent, we create the psychotic, implaccable hatred that we're seeing today.
The terror we see today is the result of decades of abuse and neglect. Same as a child, who suffers abuse and neglect by all they encounter is more likely to see that as the norm, and therefore the way to be.
"Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all Men" sounds "utopian", but all it really takes is placing bounds round our own evil natures, and removing the bounds around our good sides. I dare you to try it.