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[P]
Congratulations, Terrorists --- You've Won!

By ipoverscsi in Op-Ed
Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 12:07:53 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

That's right. You wanted to hit us where it hurt the most, and you've done it. Because we're afraid to fly, our government is now spending billions of dollars in another bail-out that the US citizens will be paying off for years. The stock market has tumbled as consumer confidence has fallen. Thounds of people are being laid off not only becuase of falling stock prices, but because of direct consequences of the attack itself. Anybody want a job at American Airlines? Good luck. They just fired 20,000 people.


What makes me sad is that this didn't have to happen. Most people are blaming this on a loss of security. I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as security. It's all an illusion. The very idea that one can make claims of "100% safe -- guaranteed!" is laughable.

If you talk to anyone in the crimial justice system, they will tell you that almost every crime is one of opportunity. A car door is left unlocked, so John Public takes a peek and decides to walk off with your car radio. Mr. Programmer is at work by himself and decides to take a laptop home. These crimes could easily be prevented by locking the car door and placing security decives on the laptop and doors of the building. But this only stops the crimes of opportinuty. Those who are bound and determined to commit crime will always find a way to do so.

Security is ultimately about reducing the possibility of bad things happening. Until September 11, the lax security we had was sufficient to reduce the probability of an air disaster occuring to acceptable levels. In retrospect, we realize that if we had had more security measures in place we might have been able to stop the tragedy.

But still, people are afraid to fly, and I am at a loss as to determine why. The security we had was sufficient before September 11, and if anything it has been improved since then. With this heightened security should come more confidence in flying, but it's not there. Is it because people still think terrorists will bomb the plane? Even if the terrorists had something planned, the probability that they would attempt something with the heightened security -- even if it is all smoke-blowing by the government, it's convinced the drug-traffickers! -- is almost infinitesimal.

There are just some things that are beyond the control of the individual. You simply have to weigh the risks before doing anything -- getting in the car (you could die in an accident), getting on a plane (it could crash), getting in a boat (sinking), or going to a golf game (struck by lightning). In almost every case, the risks are small enough to justify the benefits to be reaped from the activity. In other words, I have no qualms about getting on a plane. Buy me a ticket, and I'm there![1]

The other area where the terrorists are to receive kudos is in the wave of nationalism spreading across the country, and I mean nationalism in the pejorative sense. The fact that civil liberties and rights are being curbed by the very population that purports to espouse them is sickening. See these few examples. Don't we cherish the rights of free speech? Isn't flag-burning constitutional? Can't naturalized citizens, including those from Afghanistan, be allowed to walk downtown without being assaulted? Sadly, not anymore. Patriotism has been pushed aside in favor of the easier to handle, more fanatical nationalism.

So, once again. Congratulations, Terrorists! You've got us running scared; you've hurt us economically, just like you planned; and you've got our country on the road to a police state.

Or did we do that?

[1] I do have a flight next week. I look forward to being in Las Vegas for the weekend.

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o paying off for years
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Congratulations, Terrorists --- You've Won! | 79 comments (77 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
There is such a thing as security. (2.83 / 6) (#1)
by christianlavoie on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 07:26:20 PM EST

Sorry to break it to you, but there is such a thing as security. It cannot be 100% secure, or 100% guaranteed, not can it be completely null. But it exists.

It's all a question of degrees. Just HOW secure is it?


Maybe Computer Science ought to be taught in the school of Philosophy
   -- Christian Lavoie [modified from RS Barton]
They won (3.66 / 9) (#2)
by wiredog on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 08:29:44 PM EST

the toss, and have elected to receive.

Whatever happens, we have got
The B-52, and they have not.


If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle

B-52 (4.50 / 2) (#4)
by sigwinch on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 09:22:49 PM EST

I was going to post a link to that great B-52 picture but you beat me to it. Rats.

It's really appalling that we have so few long-range heavy bombers left. There aren't that many B-52s remaining; Pournelle's page says 50. Many of them were deliberately destroyed for 'strategic disarmament' treaties, which seems sort of misguided now. Plus the design is fifty years old and many of them have just plain wore out or been lost in service. Someone who works at a maintenance depot told me that maintenance is becoming more challenging because the fleet has seen so much use, it has been out of production for so long, and so many of the original engineers and techs have retired (and/or died of old age).

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

airforce (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by garlic on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 01:30:40 AM EST

found a good link at the USAF site. Among other things it says:

B-52 Stratofortress
The role of the conventional bomber was revalidated in Desert Storm. B-52s flew 1,624 missions, dropped 72,000 weapons (totaling more than 25,700 tons) on targets in Kuwait and southern Iraq, and on airfields, industrial targets and storage areas in Iraq. Despite being more than 30 years old, B-52s turned in higher reliability rates in Desert Storm then during operations in Vietnam. In total, they dropped 31 percent of all U.S. bombs and 41 percent of all Air Force bombs dropped during the conflict.

There's a big but though. In the discussion of precision guided munitions, the b-52 isn't mentioned, although acording to here it can carry them. Instead, the F-111, F-117, F-15, F-16, and A-10 were the vehicles of choice for these. Since we are at war with terrorists instead of countries (so far) these will end up being the munitions and therefore the planes of choice I believe.

Also, the airforce says we have about 90 B52s

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Don't underestimate the 767 (2.00 / 2) (#24)
by marx on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 08:00:33 AM EST

The role of the conventional bomber was revalidated in Desert Storm.

Wouldn't you say that a kamikaze attack by a 767 is a much more effective weapon though?

Fuck you, the only thing you can talk about is weapon efficiency. You know that thousands of civilians die in those raids.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

no, (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by garlic on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:02:22 AM EST

"Wouldn't you say that a kamikaze attack by a 767 is a much more effective weapon though? "

No. its not reusable.

"You know that thousands of civilians die in those raids."

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

no, (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by garlic on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:02:55 AM EST

"Wouldn't you say that a kamikaze attack by a 767 is a much more effective weapon though? "

No. its not reusable.

"You know that thousands of civilians die in those raids."

Which is why I said precision guided munitions should be used against terrorists.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Precision (none / 0) (#40)
by marx on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 01:31:06 PM EST

Which is why I said precision guided munitions should be used against terrorists.

This is from The Collegian

One must not lose sight of the human tragedy resulting from the invasion. Whereas the State Department is only willing to acknowledge that 516 Panamanians died, both the National Human Rights Commission of Panama and the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Central America claim that at least 2,000 people had perished. The Catholic and Episcopal Churches give estimates of 3,000 dead as "conservative." In the predominantly black El Chorillo district of Panama City alone, hundreds of civilians were killed and upwards of 30,000 made homeless by the "infernal mastery" of F-117A stealth fighters and Apache helicopters. So much for the Pentagon's claims that it was a "surgical operation".

"Precision guided munitions" my ass.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

how then? (none / 0) (#41)
by garlic on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 01:56:13 PM EST

So, you'd prefer the military does not attempt to use precision guided munitions, and instead just "carpet bombs their asses" as some crazy's have been saying?

Or that the US not seek retribution via the military?

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

I'm not a pro-war person but military is needed (none / 0) (#72)
by tzanger on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 08:39:20 AM EST

So, you'd prefer the military does not attempt to use precision guided munitions, and instead just "carpet bombs their asses" as some crazy's have been saying?

How about realizing that you cannot take land by air? No matter how surgical or "accurate" or precise these fucking bombs are, they are useless against individuals.

How about you get your fucking hands dirty and send troops in? It's the only way to fight individuals. It's the ultimate in precise and surgical. And it will work a thousand times better than any "Smart bomb" you can design.

The U.S. is so fascinated with lossless wars that they've been blinded by the pretty pictures on CNN and how nice it is that nobody they know dies that they don't see how totally ineffective these tactics are. It's like masturbation as opposed to heterosexual sex: One just feels good and doesn't amount to much; the other can actually achieve results.



[ Parent ]
Oops (1.00 / 1) (#37)
by ubu on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 11:50:51 AM EST

Actually, according to the nightly news, the terrorists died in the airplane collisions... I don't know who you and Jerry Pournelle think you're going to carpet bomb, but they ain't terrorists.

Apologies for injecting reality into your testosterone surge.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
You need (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by wiredog on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 12:09:10 PM EST

To get a sense of humor, stat.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
You're right (3.33 / 3) (#49)
by ubu on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 04:42:27 PM EST

I really do need to take the joke at face value. That's funny, bombing the Afghans with a B-52. Ha ha ha.

Holy shit, wait. The US Government is actually planning to do exactly that. And they've done it before in other countries!

Suddenly you look like an asshole, imagine that. Hey, I've got a great joke about your dead, ritually-abused grandmother. Lighten up, dude, it's just a joke.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Holy crap! (none / 0) (#65)
by spacejack on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 08:35:04 PM EST

What an infantile picture/caption! I'm saving that for my gallery of shame.

[ Parent ]
airlines were tanking before 9/11 (3.92 / 13) (#5)
by anonymous cowerd on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 09:26:10 PM EST

Airlines were facing a really severe reduction in travel for the last year. It wasn't just 9/11 that knocked them out, it was the broad-based slowdown in business flying. According to Bloomberg News (9/17/01):

The American Stock Exchange Airline Index had already declined 31 percent this year as carriers contended with lower demand as companies sent employees on fewer trips or sought cheaper fares because of the slow U.S. economy...

And how about that bailout! First those airline company executives can 100,000 employees, then they get the $15-billion in taxpayers's cash! Of course the 100,000 workies don't get a single God damned cent in "bailouts." Far from it! They get the tail end of a pinheaded "welfare reform" that was engineered during a boom.

Note also that even after the multi-billion dollar bailout, the airlines still can't afford a couple billion for armed guards on every airplane, like they've got on El Al. Gee, El Al are a business, right, and they turn a profit, don't they? You mean you wouldn't fork over a couple extra bucks on an airline ticket for a uniformed armed guard with a plain-clothes undercover backup on your next flight? Shit man, from now on I get on an airplane and I don't see a man with a pistol, I'm turning right around, getting off the plane, and going straight to the nearest bus station.

Yo, all you K5 anti-socialists! How come government subsidies for working-class victims of the ebb-and-flow of capitalism are nothing but bad bad bad, yet I don't hear y'all whining about taxpayer subsidies for huge corporations? Dear me, what ever happened to the glorious virtue of capitalist "creative destruction" and the ineffable wisdom of the "invisible hand" of market forces? 'smatter, our old buddy "invisible hand" call in sick today?

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

The one thing that really disturbs me about America is that people don't like to read. - Keith Richards

Re: airlines were tanking before 9/11 (3.66 / 6) (#8)
by khym on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 10:30:05 PM EST

And how about that bailout! First those airline company executives can 100,000 employees, then they get the $15-billion in taxpayers's cash! Of course the 100,000 workies don't get a single God damned cent in "bailouts." Far from it! They get the tail end of a pinheaded "welfare reform" that was engineered during a boom.
The airlines get a bailout, get back on their feet, and re-hire the people they fired; or, they don't get a bailout, those people are still out of work, and even more people lose their jobs because an important part of long distance travel has been crippled.

As for firing all those workers: if the airlines hadn't fired them while the planes were grounded, and afterwards when few people were flying, they would have gone further into debt, and required even more money for the bailout. And the unemployed workers can still apply for unemployment insurance, the reforms just limit how long you can be on it and require that you be looking for work.



--
Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
[ Parent ]
Unemployment (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by ipoverscsi on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 11:55:38 PM EST

It's not a very bright future for those laid off anyway you look at it. Unemployment is limited to small percentage of your annual income. Can you honestly imagine trying to live on $160 a month? Fortunately, unemployment benefits come from your salary (it was taken out by your employer) so it's not coming from the Federal Government.

On top of that, it will be some time before the airlines can afford to re-hire any of those who were laid off. Especially with the rock-bottom prices they're charging just to get people to step into a terminal.



[ Parent ]
You know... (4.20 / 5) (#11)
by Anonymous 6522 on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 11:41:31 PM EST

Yo, all you K5 anti-socialists! How come government subsidies for working-class victims of the ebb-and-flow of capitalism are nothing but bad bad bad, yet I don't hear y'all whining about taxpayer subsidies for huge corporations?

It wasn't the airlines that decided to ground all flights in the US, it was the good 'ole US government (and I can say that I support their decision). Now, to make myself crystal clear, I am going to repeat myself in a way that only a moron would not understand. The government said "Airlines, you can't make any money today." Now these airlines have costs, if they can't fly, the lose money, no matter what. Now the government is saying, "Sorry about that, here's some money to make it up."

[ Parent ]

Misinformation (4.00 / 3) (#25)
by marx on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 08:24:34 AM EST

The support is not to cover the costs for one day.. duh, that is peanuts. It is to prevent them from going bankrupt because so few people want to fly after the attack. Airlines have big fixed costs, and they cannot adapt that fast to demand falloff.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Baloney (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by ubu on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 11:46:56 AM EST

Costs for one day are not peanuts. Whether planes fly or not, the airlines have to pay their airplane leases, they have to pay terminal fees, they have to pay their enormous staff, and they have to buy re-accomodation for passengers with scrambled flights.

You're right to say the airlines have big fixed costs. But even the short-term ramifications are huge. US Airways' hub is Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, which has been closed since September 11th and is still closed. That airline is fucked no matter what customer demand is like over the next 24 months.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Injecting some facts (none / 0) (#48)
by marx on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 04:35:16 PM EST

Here is from a Cato article:
Take the bailout of the airlines. A plausible case could be made that the airlines were owed some compensation when the government closed the airports for four days after the attacks. At that time, industry executives indicated that the closure was costing them $300 million each day. That means the decision to close the airports cost the industry $1.2 billion. Nonetheless, the airlines asked Congress for $24 billion, and Congress passed a bill worth $15 billion to the industry.

As you can clearly see, the compensation for closing the airports is less than 10% of the sum paid out. All airports would have to have been closed for 40 days for this to make sense.

Another explanation could be that the US government is supporting the airlines because people don't want to fly so much anymore, and the airlines are very inflexible. Which explanation do you think seems more plausible?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Injecting my boot to your head (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by ubu on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 04:57:07 PM EST

As you can clearly see, the compensation for closing the airports is less than 10% of the sum paid out. All airports would have to have been closed for 40 days for this to make sense.

No, sorry, you cannot "inject facts" by extrapolating from pork barrel numbers. Bzzzzt!

"Dollars per day" numbers are useless except for scaring Congress and the public. The very airline "inflexibility" you keep mentioning, on its face, makes "dollars per day" a meaningless term.

Airport closings meant lost revenue opportunities, not increased marginal costs. To estimate the future impact from the bombings and the closings, you likewise have to measure future lost revenue opportunities and then estimate the earnings potential for many large airlines sharing a shrunken market. This is why commentators are predicting the failures of several airlines, as well as the continued successes of those airlines who enjoy the best margins and revenue potential (American, United, Delta, Southwest).

It is not as simple as "airlines lost X, Congress can compensate X" -- to say the least. If Congress' bailout package saves airlines despite an inability to compete in the shrunken market, they are doing little more than artificially deflating prices, putting airline workers on indirect welfare checks, and propping up investment capital that would otherwise flee to more productive havens. None of which is constructive in the least for the longevity and quality of the airline industry.

Another explanation could be that the US government is supporting the airlines because people don't want to fly so much anymore, and the airlines are very inflexible. Which explanation do you think seems more plausible?

"Inflexible?" Dumbass, the airlines responded immediately by cutting jobs. That's within 7 days of the terrorist bombings. Further "flexibility" was only forestalled by Congressional willingness to play White Knight to the Wounded Soldiers in the industry.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Closings, not bombings (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by marx on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 06:40:30 PM EST

To estimate the future impact from the bombings and the closings, you likewise have to measure future lost revenue opportunities and then estimate the earnings potential for many large airlines sharing a shrunken market.

Here is your problem. The original argument was this:

Now, to make myself crystal clear, I am going to repeat myself in a way that only a moron would not understand. The government said "Airlines, you can't make any money today." Now these airlines have costs, if they can't fly, the lose money, no matter what. Now the government is saying, "Sorry about that, here's some money to make it up."

You said this:

To estimate the future impact of the bombings and the closings [...]

Do you see any mention of bombings in the original argument? Is the US government somehow responsible for the bombings?

The claim was that the government was intervening only because they had directly restricted the airlines' ability to do business. Of course the market has shrunk after the bombings. The whole point of having capitalism is that companies should be able to adapt to the market.

In socialism, you plan the economy, by for example giving state support to companies in a weak market. People are clearly a bit embarrassed that this is exactly what the US is doing.

By the way, it might be a good idea to know what the hell you're talking about before calling people "dumbass".

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Suckle me (none / 0) (#76)
by ubu on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 12:32:07 PM EST

In socialism, you plan the economy, by for example giving state support to companies in a weak market. People are clearly a bit embarrassed that this is exactly what the US is doing.

Of course that's what the US is doing. You and I, naturally, harbor no illusions about US "capitalism". Slate article that bears out the claim.

Your claim that the airport closings were of marginal consequence is still bullshit. What's more, the closings themselves have contributed to the depressed market by inculcating a sense of emergency and ongoing disaster. If airlines had been left to their own devices, they would have been forced to soothe and reassure their passengers in order to sustain demand. Instead, they are on the government dole -- again. And it no longer matters what the passenger's mood is; airlines are no longer responsible for their own enterprises.

This is seventh heaven, for you, I know. Nothing could be finer than a complete disestablishment of individualism and enterprise. But I've got to say that of all the people I've spoken with on the subject, you socialist democrats are the most "embarrassed" about the subject altogether. Hiding in your shadows, masquerading as capitalists except on Kuro5hin et al, you're the most hypocritical bunch in the lot.

Don't pretend to be some kind of crusader for mediocrity and collective idiocy in my face. Your shit is so weak it's not even funny. The very fact that collectivist thought has taken you in makes you an automatic idiot. And that's some embarrassing shit.

Dumbass.

Ubu


--
This signature is a magical vanity summoner. (streetlawyer,Inoshiro,spiralx,alprazolam,eLuddite)
[ Parent ]
I can't speak for anyone else (3.83 / 6) (#20)
by aphrael on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:09:42 AM EST

but in my view, a government bailout of the airline *and* hotel industries right now is perfectly reasonable. The case for the hotel industry is less clear, but if the airlines actually go under in a big way, the effects on the economy will be immense --- just as bad as if the railroads had gone under in the 1890s. We cannot let that happen.

But then, i'm not a free-market true believer, either, and I wouldn't be opposed to some sort of government assistance for the now 100K people who have been laid off.

[ Parent ]

Airlines will bounce back. (none / 0) (#45)
by squigly on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:35:31 PM EST

Maybe someone with more knowledge about economics than me will tell me if I'm wrong here, but from a totally ruthless capitalist point of view, I can't see this being a long term problem.

Airlines will exist for as long as people need to transport items quickly. Maybe prices will rise, but people still want fast air delivery for messages and valuables, and will pay a premium if they have to. For many industries,speed is essential. The result will be a lot of airlines failing, but prices will then rise, new airlines will arrive and undercut them, and the whole system will stabilise.

[ Parent ]

Subsidies (3.33 / 3) (#22)
by Anatta on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 06:41:06 AM EST

Yo, all you K5 anti-socialists! How come government subsidies for working-class victims of the ebb-and-flow of capitalism are nothing but bad bad bad, yet I don't hear y'all whining about taxpayer subsidies for huge corporations? Dear me, what ever happened to the glorious virtue of capitalist "creative destruction" and the ineffable wisdom of the "invisible hand" of market forces? 'smatter, our old buddy "invisible hand" call in sick today?

Maybe you haven't been looking in the right places?
My Music
[ Parent ]

Responding to the retarded (2.33 / 3) (#35)
by ubu on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 11:40:57 AM EST

Nice links, but you don't honestly mean to suggest that this juvenile actually went looking to educate himself, do you? The notion of a truly well-educated socialist -- someone with even a broad-based grasp of free enterprise and anti-imperialism -- is laughable, to the point that it's hardly worth the effort to post links.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
We have so much to do ... (none / 0) (#70)
by pyramid termite on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 08:18:52 AM EST

... the socialists are not truly well educated and the capitalists all need their consciousnesses raised. Won't someone please think of the children?
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Security (3.86 / 15) (#6)
by sigwinch on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 09:47:42 PM EST

In retrospect, we realize that if we had had more security measures in place we might have been able to stop the tragedy
Your intentions may be noble, but this is just totally wrong. The security measures on September 11 WORKED EXACTLY AS INTENDED. The goals were 1) that every single good person on the planes would have no meaningful weapon, and 2) that the people on the plane would be cowed by anyone claiming authority or making threats.

The thing that should scare you is not that security measures failed to prevent the attacks, but that hundreds of Americans sat quietly by, watched it all take place, and DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. In an earlier age, half a dozen poorly armed men taking on 75 (mostly) able-bodied Americans would have been swifty and efficiently killed.

Even if the terrorists had something planned, the probability that they would attempt something with the heightened security ... is almost infinitesimal.
Again, this is just totally wrong. The "heightened security" measures serve solely to enhance Goal #1. It is still fairly trivial to move glass daggers, short swords and rapiers, and chemical weapons onto an airliner. The move towards draconian imperial policies serves to enhance Goal #2.
The fact that civil liberties and rights are being curbed by the very population that purports to espouse them is sickening. Don't we cherish the rights of free speech?
Seen through the lens of empire, everything is obvious. The same people who disarmed the passengers and trained them into submission are behind the current infringements of liberty. They are the same people who are carefully avoiding an open declaration of war, because it would mean that someday they'd have to declare peace and give back all the rights they suspended. That's why there's all this rhetoric about a "new type of war" and a "long campaign with no clear enemies". This war is merely another opportunity for the imperialists to grab more power.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.

Re: Security (5.00 / 7) (#7)
by khym on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 10:15:44 PM EST

The thing that should scare you is not that security measures failed to prevent the attacks, but that hundreds of Americans sat quietly by, watched it all take place, and DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. In an earlier age, half a dozen poorly armed men taking on 75 (mostly) able-bodied Americans would have been swiftly and efficiently killed.

Really? Before the attack, the standard procedure in a hijacking would be the hijackers land the plane somewhere, make demands, negotiate, and eveuntally the hostages go free. Since the passengers certainly assumed that was going to happen, what reason did they have to resist? Resisting would put their own lives in danger. Given the information that they had, they acted in a rational manner.



--
Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
[ Parent ]
Re: Security (4.50 / 6) (#10)
by ipoverscsi on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 11:20:41 PM EST

It seems a slight perversion to take security issues from the point of view of the hijackers, but an interesting twist nonetheless. If is true that, for the the hijackers, the security worked as planned, but for the everyday passengers it was a failure. If the currently proposed security measures had been in place before the hijackings, the liklihood that the hijackings would have taken place would have been less that it was.

To speak plainly, my drift was that there is no real security, only the reduction of the probability of negative events.

As was mentioned elsewhere, the standard procedure for hijackings is to land the plane and make demands, not crash into buildings. The fact that the passengers did nothing was to be expected. The "Pennsylvania Passengers" learned of the hijackers intentions and reportedly did take steps. These people took control of a situation because there was something they could do to reduce the probability of mass murder -- attack the hijackers.

Your final point about the "protracted war" only serves to emphasize my point about nationalism. If people would pull their heads out of their asses they would realize that the legislation before Congress in Not Good(TM). Sacrificing personal liberties now "for the cause" is never a good thing, as it's very hard to get them back.



[ Parent ]
Threat analysis (4.66 / 3) (#15)
by sigwinch on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 01:15:00 AM EST

It seems a slight perversion to take security issues from the point of view of the hijackers, but an interesting twist nonetheless.
Threat analysis is an abstract art, and is not done from any particular point of view. Using your ingenuity, you come up with a list of all threats that you can think of. Then you list each result (good or bad) that can result from each threat. Then, through educated guesswork, you assign probabilities to each threat. If multiple subthreats are required to produce a higher-level threat, you can calculate the probability of the higher-level threat using basic statistics, and likewise for the case where any one of several subthreats can cause a higher-level threat. (This process can be represented and modeled by AND/OR trees.)
If is true that, for the the hijackers, the security worked as planned, but for the everyday passengers it was a failure.
No. There is no point of view. The security plan worked exactly as intended. The fact that the results were undesirable is not relevant to that evaluation.

Similar threat analyses apply to computer security, and it is a frequent occurence that the system functions *exactly as intended* and produces horrible results. For example, the server where I work locks out my account if somebody tries to use the wrong password more than three times in a short period. The goal is to prevent attackers from guessing passwords by trial and error, and it satisfies that goal admirably. However, I sometimes don't change my password before it expires, and my email program keeps trying over and over to download messages, which locks out my account. This is horrible and I have to go bug the sysadmins to unlock my account, however the system is functioning exactly as designed.

Incidentally, this example is an object lesson for people who want electronic or other locks on the cockpit doors.

If the currently proposed security measures had been in place before the hijackings, the liklihood that the hijackings would have taken place would have been less that it was.
I doubt it. Buying an annealed glass pot and Dremel tool at Wal-Mart, then dremelling off the handle and sharpening it is not very expensive or difficult, and the resulting glass dagger will pass through airport security totally undetected. Or they could have replaced the metal trim on a suitcase with a piece of spring steel sharpened at one end, producing a lethal rapier. The attackers were sleepers who spent months before the attacks training at a cost of many thousands of dollars. Would an extra $75 expense + a few hours of time have thwarted the attacks? I doubt it in the extreme.

An essential part of threat analysis is determining how much a defense measure will reduce the threat. That depends on how much money the attacker has, and how much the defenesive measure costs to overcome. The other question is how much the defensive measure costs, and how much a failure costs. Precise numbers are hard to come by, but in general incremental improvements in security become progressively more expensive. I.e., going from a bank vault to a subterranean fortress guarded by Marines is very expensive, and the improvement in security is minimal.

As was mentioned elsewhere, the standard procedure for hijackings is to land the plane and make demands, not crash into buildings.
The probability that an attacker will use a particular strategy is absolutely, totally, completely unrelated to the probability of that attack succeeding if it is attempted. Anybody who pretends they are related is throwing away resources (money, bandwidth, human lives, whatever) in the service of their political goals. It's a lot like all the poor, idiotic computer administrators whose machines are currently being blown away by the Nimda worm: they ignored a threat because it wasn't happening, and they are paying the full price.
If people would pull their heads out of their asses they would realize that the legislation before Congress in Not Good(TM).
On the other hand, the People also created these problems by blithely harassing huge swaths of the world for the past fifty years, and disarming themselves for their own good. The likelihood of the People suddenly starting to analyze the situation, and reversing the trend, is approximately zero.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Pennsylvania Plane -- I don't believe the story (none / 0) (#73)
by tzanger on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 08:51:13 AM EST

The "Pennsylvania Passengers" learned of the hijackers intentions and reportedly did take steps.

I don't believe this for a minute. I have a lot of friends in the Pittsburgh area and they all said that the initial newscasts of the story of that plane had a man calling to say they were hijacked, and that they claimed to have a bomb. There was an explosion, the man said that the cabin filled with white smoke and shortly after they lost contact with him.

Later on, you hear that they tried to overtake the hijackers. I believe this is a coverup for the U.S. Military shooting the plane down. Several of my friends also point to the crash site as more evidence of a shooting-down: There was a "clump" of material seven miles (I believe this is the number, it was a fair distance anyway) from the rest of the plane. Now for wreckage to stay together and be that far away, you have to be moving at a fair clip.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories but I really do believe that this whole "let's take the hijackers" was a story to rally the troops. There was no legislation in place before to allow the shooting-down of commercial aircraft. Now there is. Personally I find it admirable that someone in the military made the call to take down the commercial airliner instead of have it crash and cause more damage and more death, but I don't think the average American is ready to hear that.



[ Parent ]
Huh? (4.50 / 2) (#19)
by aphrael on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:05:57 AM EST

In an earlier age, half a dozen poorly armed men taking on 75 (mostly) able-bodied Americans would have been swifty and efficiently killed.

I see you have heard nothing about the plane that went down in pennsylvania amid a fight between the terrorists and the passengers?

are the same people who are carefully avoiding an open declaration of war

Who would you want to openly declare war against? I don't know who is responsible; how can we declare war when we don't know who is doing it?

That's why there's all this rhetoric about a "new type of war" and a "long campaign with no clear enemies"

Again, who is the clear enemy? Who do we fight? If you know who they are, by all means, let everyone know.

[ Parent ]

Re: Huh? (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by sigwinch on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:54:10 AM EST

I see you have heard nothing about the plane that went down in pennsylvania amid a fight between the terrorists and the passengers?
Because they used cell phones. In contradiction with federal regulations, and which the government would've banned on airplanes except for the fact that a lot of people wouldn't bother to fly if they did.
Who would you want to openly declare war against? I don't know who is responsible; how can we declare war when we don't know who is doing it?
You don't have to know to make the declaration. They can write it up, sign it, and fill in the blanks later. The important thing is to have a clear declaration of the state of affairs, a stated plan for remedying that situation, and a list of clear conditions for standing down. Without a formal declaration, this will become an ever-expanding police action that will gradually suck the US into a variety of local conflicts.

There are two dangers. The first is that, without a clear declaration, the mission goals will gradually creep to encompass more and more objectives. We'll end up fighting for and against various randomly selected Afghan groups. We'll end up evacuating orphanages., There'll be Marines doing "humanitarian relief" with orders not to shoot. (Somalia anyone?) The second danger is domestic: that they will (quite properly) reduce liberties for US citizens, but never give them back because there are no objectives that can ever be met, no goals that can ever be accomplished.

In short, it is unwise to go to a war footing without a declaration of war. If you're going to fight, fine, say so. When you figure out *who*, there should be a formal process for amending the declaration. When you want to add a mission goal, fine, but there should be a formal process that involves the stakeholders.

Basically, it boils down to good management practice. A war is a large project, just like any other. It's akin to the design project for a video game console, or a large accounting software package. Without a tightly controlled plan that the managers and executives buy into, there *will* *be* *chaos*. Repeat after me: there will be chaos. The project will turn into a quagmire of diffuse goals and diffuse work. A lot of effort will be expended, but very little will be accomplished. The project will take too long, cost too much, wind up nearly worthless, and the customers will hate everyone involved.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Declaration of War (none / 0) (#33)
by wiredog on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:48:45 AM EST

They can write it up, sign it, and fill in the blanks later.

There's a scene in "Buckaroo Banzai" where you see the President filling out a "Declaration of War, The Short Form".

You read Pournelle's website? If not, you should, he made many of the same arguments. However, this war seems to have much more in common with the cold war than with a hot war. It'll be a little hotter, but may last as long. It's a war of ideology as much as arms.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]

Declarations, etc. (none / 0) (#34)
by aphrael on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 11:08:23 AM EST

They can write it up, sign it, and fill in the blanks later

Hmmm .... I find that terrifying --- it is, quite literally, a blank check from the Congress to the President; I would be extremely upset with my Congressman if he voted for such a thing.

In short, it is unwise to go to a war footing without a declaration of war

Let me point out that there has been no formal declaration of war by the United States since, oh, 1941.



[ Parent ]
this tragedy (1.40 / 5) (#32)
by core10k on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:46:30 AM EST

is absolute proof that my world view is correct. Isn't that right, sigwinch? Opportunistic slimeball.

[ Parent ]
Muahahahahaha... (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by Scandal on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 11:01:42 PM EST

I've been trying to get the point across at work, but it seems to escape everyone...

If EVERY adult on the airplanes had a loaded firearm with them, the casualties would have been kept to a minimum... In fact, if everyone riding airplanes were armed, hijacking would become a non-issue. The terrorists would have to constitute more than half the passengers on the plane to even stand a reasonable chance of success.

*Scandal*


[ Parent ]
on the other hand (2.66 / 3) (#58)
by rehan on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 05:20:59 AM EST

It might make it much easier for a single suicidal terrorist to kill everyone on the plane with the gun that they carried on legally (by damaging the plane).

It would be a type of attack with lower casualties than the recent one, but would be much easier to pull off and have a higher chance of success than the current method, I think. Whether in aggregate the death toll would be more or less, I don't know


Stay Frosty and Alert


[ Parent ]
You got to be kidding me... (3.00 / 3) (#66)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 09:46:44 PM EST

Wow! What a great idea! Instead of the hijackers having to try to sneak an inferior weapon like a knife, they can bring their own guns!

What is to stop someone with a gun, innocently walking up to the cockpit, then quickly shooting the pilots, or the plane, or even other passanges.

Not only now, do you have to worry about hijackers, but you also have to worry about eveyday criminals and psychos who might feel like going trigger-happy on a plane.

And too bad if terrorists booked 20 seats at the front Or maybe booked up business class. 18 of the terrorists would shoot the other passaengers, before they even knew what was going on, the other 2 would be covered, and go into the cockpit.

And now crims have the perfect place to assasinate someone "...He was going to hijack the plane! I couldn't let another 5000 people die. I had to shoot him!"

*sigh*, I could be here for ages coming up more senarios like this. But I think my point is obvious.
More guns on planes = more problems.

[ Parent ]

Re: You got to be kidding me... (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by sigwinch on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 04:21:10 AM EST

More guns on planes = more problems.
I agree that filling planes with randomly selected firearms is a Bad Idea. Giving carefully selected guns to carefully selected people may be OK, but a drunken cowboy-type with a .50 pistol could easily take out the whole plane without even meaning to.

On the other hand, why are knives banned? They would pose little harm to the plane, and it's pretty hard to accidentally hurt people with a knife. You have to really *want* to cause injury, and you have to do quite a bit of hacking and slashing to be certain of killing someone.

My pet plan is that every able-bodied adult boarding an airliner would be issued a good combat knife that had to be returned at the end of the journey, and the passengers would be told that any plane controlled by unfriendlies will be unconditionally shot down (no matter what the unfriendlies claim to want). Oh, and make assault with one of the knives a capital offense. This policy would have prevented the WTC/Pentagon attacks, and I trust John Q. Public not to run amock with a knife. (Anybody can carry a knife to a bar or hockey game, and many do, yet there are very few stabbings. Over half the people I know carry knives all the time, and the biggest danger they face is cutting their own fingers.)

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Heresy (4.00 / 10) (#9)
by jabber on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 11:16:19 PM EST

As unsavory as it is to say in light of everything, did anyone notice how much power this unfortunate event has given the government? As inconcievable as it may sound, has anyone considered that that was the goal, and that the government is really the mastermind behind this tragedy?

Now, before you all lynch me up for being unamerican, and a conspiracy theorist, recall that our own government exposed hundreds, if not thousands, of it's own military to the effects of radioactive fallout and radiation, to study it's effects. They knew that it would be 'harmful', but were not sure of the extent, and made use of uninformed enlisted men to find out.

Is it really so far out of the realm of possibility, that 6k people is a small price to pay for the ability to spy on your own people? After all, has anyone here actually read the Mobilization Against Terrorism Act? Indefinite detainment of suspected foreigners until they prove that they are not terrorists? "Hacking" as a Federal crime carrying a Life w/o parole sentence? Homeland Security?

Unregulated wiretaps? Can GPS tracking of cars (beginning with HAZMAT trucks, but it will snowball) and cell phones be far behind? Regulation of cryptography? (If guns are outlawed...).

Maybe I am crazy and paranoid.. But maybe I'm just sampling reality at a higher frequency..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Catch up! (3.40 / 5) (#12)
by losthalo on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 11:45:26 PM EST

After "Wow, someone finally decided to strike back
at the U.S. for all of the under-the-table crap that
it's been pulling for the last four decades.", that was
the next thing that I thought about in relation
to the attack.

Then I realized that it sounded too much like the
conspiracy theorists on the talk radio station around 3AM.

Losthalo

[ Parent ]
GPS Tracking (4.50 / 6) (#14)
by ipoverscsi on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 12:14:53 AM EST

Tracking of Tractor-trailers, HAZMAT trucks and other transport vehicles is perfectly acceptable to me. Not only does it provide theft protection[1], but it assists in Just-in-time processing of goods. And that's good for business (pardon my capitalist tendencies -- I am an American!). Tracking of passenger vehicles (cars and trucks) is a double-edge sword: it can track vehicles when stolen, but it can also provide automatic traffic enforcement (you didn't come to a complete stop at that stop sign -- here's a $50 ticket for you).

The government can already track you. What concerns me is how much easier they are trying to make it to do so.

Regarding the possibility people within the government have done this, I am confident it was not even remotely considered by any directly elected official. Bush may want to increase funding of the military, but the fact that he spent the surplus (government rebate checks) before this event occured would show extremely poor planning. Adding another trillion dollars to the national debt with one fell swoop is not the kind of legacy any man would want to leave.

[1] I have worked for a company that provides GPS tracking that was used in cooperation with local agencies to track stolen trailers.



[ Parent ]
The thought had occurred to me (4.50 / 6) (#18)
by aphrael on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:01:50 AM EST

but I don't believe it. For a couple of reasons:
  • It would be difficult if not impossible to keep the secret forever, and if it were found out any time soon, it would cause a political crisis that would make watergate and vietnam look like tea parties;
  • The response from the administration has been significantly more restrained than it could have been (and than libertarians expected) and while some obnoxious legislation has been proposed, nothing truly draconian has passed yet;
  • Anything draconian would have to be cleared by the Supreme Court, which is not subject to popular pressure in the same way Congress is, and is less likely to respond emotionally to the events of two weeks ago when the case gets to them in 2-3 years (unless they were killed off, but that would be truly suspicious; see the first item above);
  • This is not traditionally how politics is practiced in the United States, and I find it hard to believe that a former Congressman from Wyoming would be involved in such a thing.
  • I understand why the thought would occur; 'Reichstag fire' was one of the first things that came to mind when I was able to think analytically again. But it's a paranoid thought, and strikes me as being extremely unlikely to be true.

    [ Parent ]

  • Bush (3.50 / 8) (#23)
    by Jebediah on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 07:18:15 AM EST

    I thought of something similar to this as well. Bush really had nothing to lose (except civilians) if this happened.

    Bush can now try to:
    Go after Saddam (a present for daddy)
    Unite voters behind him (re-election)
    Gain respect with other foreign leaders (he led the nation through a crises)
    Increase intelligence gathering
    Conveniently have documents lost (those documents were in the Pentagon, but they got burnt)
    Go to war and hope to recharge the economy.

    Pretty scary when you think about it, but I can see it happening. Even if the orders to do this did not come from the US gov, I think there are too many lapses not to consider this. Supposedly the FBI was warned about an attack (by the Mossad), four planes deviated from their course and failed to identify (this should have set off warning bells far and wide), and there was plenty of time between the plane crashes that fighter jets should have been all over the place.

    If any of us posters in this thread disappear, assume the feds got us ;)

    [ Parent ]
    Remember (4.00 / 2) (#30)
    by wiredog on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:40:14 AM EST

    This is the same government that has trouble delivering the mail...

    If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
    [ Parent ]
    come on (1.00 / 1) (#39)
    by planders on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 01:20:57 PM EST

    come on, you have to remember yourself that the top echelons of the national security apparatus are a whole different class of people (literally and figuratively) than the folks at your local postal branch, or the Dept. of Motor Vehicles.

    They dusted JFK and got away with it, didn't they?



    [ Parent ]

    You're right! (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by wiredog on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 02:19:35 PM EST

    The Cabal is behind it all. Think about it! What do the k5 and slashdot cabals, Mozart's Silver Flute, the Defenestration of Prague, and Philip K Dick all have in common? It's not the Black Helicopters! Those are a ruse to distract your attention from the Truth! You have now been saved from wasting years of your empty life in an obsessive, paranoiac search for the truth! A search that would eventually have resulted in your discovery of the single true conspiracy!

    Now we'll have to hunt you down and medicate you into submission. Have a nice day.

    If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
    [ Parent ]

    just because... (4.00 / 2) (#50)
    by planders on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 04:42:35 PM EST

    Remember, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean "They" aren't out to get you.

    [ Parent ]
    The association .. (4.50 / 2) (#62)
    by Eloquence on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 07:12:23 PM EST

    .. of conspiracy theories with fanatism and lunacy is no coincidence. US intelligence has always been working hard to discredit any critical information about the powers that be, and to mix it with nonsense. Domestic propaganda and infiltration programs like COINTELPRO are well-documented, and so are disinformation programs for secret projects like Area 51: By associating a secret military research base with UFOs, anyone examining its real purpose will be seen as a crackpot. The extent to which this has happened in the US media may be subject of speculation, but I would not be surprised if a series like The X-Files was sponsored by the CIA or NSA. I remember well a series called Dark Skies which attributed the assassination of JFK (and other major political events) to aliens.

    In fact, it is remarkable that one can hardly mention words like CIA, NSA or JFK without being written off as a "conspiracy theorist" and as someone who believes in The Illuminati. Conspiracy theories are seen as an intellectual vice, something you should not spend too much time on if you don't want to start wearing a tinfoil hat some day. Isn't that wonderful, to be able to discredit any opposing view that easily? It is tantamount to simply calling people heretics.

    The corporate background of western governments and media as well as large scandals like JFK are therefore hardly subject of real democratic discourse, which would always include the possibility of a corrupt government. However, by associating the mere idea with the "lunatic fringe", such discourse has effectively been pushed into this very fringe. Think about it: When was the last time you've seen a report about arms manufacturers and the possibility that they might create markets by creating conflicts? Or about the oil industry and its connections to international dictatorships? The CIA's support for current terrorist groups and questionable regimes? An analysis of NATO policy that doesn't assume benevolent goals?

    Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent gives a nice overview why the mass media work that way (without requiring an actual conspiracy in charge, occasionally allowing critical reports to be swallowed by the emotional dominance of non-critical ones). However, it is interesting to note that the Net provides much, much more information than Chomsky's media if you look for it. Is it a surprise, then, that the traditional media are mostly associating the Net with propaganda, child pornography, hackers, criminals ..? That they emphasize how much "trash" you find online? That almost never they highlight how, with critical thinking, you can separate nonsense from fact? They try to create a fear of the unknown, an uncertainty to keep people glued to their TVs and tabloids -- not necessarily out of "dark" motives, merely out of their own short-term profit interests. The corporate think tanks, OTOH, just love the Net: Never before have they been able to disseminate their propaganda so cheaply to willing believers who further distribute it. Never before have they been able to collect such detailed information about the people they want to reach.

    Conspiracy theories are like real theories: Some of them are wrong and some of them are right. Trying to think critically and examine an issue from all sides is much better, more scientific and more creative than blindly accepting mainstream beliefs.
    --
    Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
    spread the word!
    [ Parent ]

    Yeah, it's an amazing coincidence... (3.50 / 6) (#54)
    by Scandal on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:44:35 PM EST

    Some of the more interesting points which scream "fishy!" to me are:

    1) The claim that the terrorists were targeting "Air Force One". I could see claiming that the White House was a target (and likely a valid one), but claiming that these terrorists had planned to take out a MOVING TARGET which is, oh, INFINITELY more likely to MOVE OUT OF THE WAY, not to mention BE LOOKING FOR POTENTIAL COLLISION MATERIAL all the while, looks to me like Mr. Bush was seeking to gain sympathy for himself. "Oh, he was a target too! Golly!"

    2) Bush has been aching for an excuse to get the ol' war machine up and going again. What, no missile shield? Well, OK, how about a WAR against NO ONE IN PARTICULAR?!? Are our leaders REALLY this stupid?

    3) The $15Bn bail out of the airline industry. OK, so the six major airlines have WORSENED the American economy by laying off some 86,000 people, and now we're going to REWARD them for it?

    4) The US "intelligence" service didn't see this coming? Really?!? Odd that they can see the congratulatory messages being bandied about among the terrorist cells, and they can figure out that the other intended targets were the White House and Air Force One, but the fact that the most brutal external attack on American Soil would be executed seemed to escape them... On the other hand, it makes a REALLY great "reason" to attack encryption technology, and it only cost some 6,000 lives to make the point! Never mind that the encryption rules adopted today will not apply to the encryption technology ALREADY OUTSIDE OUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE.

    5) The desire to push through legislation FAST. Congress is ANYTHING BUT fast. If it's not slow and deliberate coming out of Washington, it's guaranteed to be wrong. Even when slow and deliberate, it's still likely to be only half-baked, but that's better than COMPLETELY RAW.

    6) The complete "failure" on the part of our leaders to notice that the DESTRUCTION of American rights and the conversion of our country into a military state would TICKLE BIN LADEN PINK AND PUDGY. (Not to mention any of the rest of our enemies...) "We're not going to be affected by this evil, evil thing they did to us!" claim our leaders, while they turn around and implement new rules and "security" checks everywhere they can think to do it -- NEVER MIND that NONE of these tactics would actually have prevented these attacks! Curbside luggage checks -- did the terrorists retrieve weapons from the luggage compartment of the planes, and are the clerks inside the airport inspecting each and every article checked in for potential weapons? Perhaps the terrorists used a spork to claw their way through the floor of the passenger cabin to get to their weaponry?

    7) ARABIC FLIGHT INSTRUCTION MANUALS left in a car at Logan Airport. Ummm... do you suppose these terrorists were cramming for the exam of their lives, brushing up on a few pointers before the big test? "Assad, is the auto-pilot switch to the left or the right of the throttle?"

    Fishy, fishy, fishy...

    *Scandal*


    [ Parent ]
    Fishy Fishy (3.33 / 3) (#64)
    by smallstepforman on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 08:08:16 PM EST

    How about the fact the the planes aluminum structure melted yet the FBI were able to find a letter with instructions to the terrorists amongst the debris.
    Or that a password was found in NYC hours after the attack yet the black box was destroyed.
    Or that the hijackers are linked to /bin/laden and the FBI are asking the whole world "Anyone know who these people on the airport surveilance cameras are, since we dont know who they are. Oh, yes, sorry, we know they're linked to Usama".

    Yes, I have complete faith in the abilities of the investigators. When do I have to make myself available to the FBI so that I may assist them with bugging my house?

    [ Parent ]
    That's not what they want. (3.80 / 10) (#17)
    by aphrael on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 02:55:28 AM EST

    You've got to look at the US the way they see it to understand what they want. I'm not sure I can do that, but the article you've posted is just an American being an American, thinking like an American, and assuming the people who attacked us think just like him.

    You think these guys give a fuck about our airline industry? You think they care about whether or not the right to free speech is abridged in this country? I think they've got more serious fish to fry.

    Getting us scared is a good part of it, I think. Trying to get us to overreact (which we so far haven't done) and get more people pissed off at us is also part of it. Creating a situation where the islamic world and the west go to war with each other, with the islamic world viewing it as a holy war, would be a big boon, if they could do it. In the meantime, just killing people is enough; after all, we're the devil, and they'll go to heaven if they kill us, right?

    (Yes, I know i'm oversimplifying. But that's my point --- saying that the terrorists have 'won' without knowing what they were trying to do is oversimplifying too. Only, worse, it's propogandistic oversimplifying that projects your view of what is evil and makes that the goal of the people who blew up the world trade center; how can you claim to speak for them? How can anyone, when they won't speak for themselves?)

    Hmmm... (3.50 / 4) (#26)
    by Rocky on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 09:25:49 AM EST

    >after all, we're the devil, and they'll go to heaven if they kill us, right?

    According to The Onion, they won't...

    If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
    - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
    [ Parent ]
    that explains (2.40 / 5) (#29)
    by mami on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:12:17 AM EST

    why the Onion hasn't made it yet into the ranks of the Bible and the Quaran...

    [ Parent ]
    it's funny (4.00 / 2) (#31)
    by core10k on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:41:32 AM EST

    Getting us scared is a good part of it, I think. Trying to get us to overreact (which we so far haven't done) and get more people pissed off at us is also part of it.

    I didn't know if you were talking about the terrorists or if you were talking about the American government when I red the first half of your comment.



    [ Parent ]
    Re: That's not what they want. (4.00 / 1) (#43)
    by ipoverscsi on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 02:35:32 PM EST

    On the contrary, I have no idea what the terrorists truly desired to accomplish. However, when an American looks at these acts and interprets them -- specifically, attacking known symbols of American capitalism with the consequences that the economy nose dives (stock market, layoffs, bailouts, etc.) -- then from an American point of view the attacks did succeed.

    With respect to overreacting, the steps being taken by our government have removed only a few rights. For many people the rights being taken away probably aren't important to them since they have no intentions of getting in trouble with the law. But I say that revoking habeus corpus is very dangerous. You can now rot in jail without a trial indefinitely for no apparent reason. That means that you can be suspected of a crime and incarcerated without a trial. Witch Hunt, anyone?

    Finally, I guess I posted my original story too quickly since one of my points is apparently not very clear:

    It didn't have to happen this way.

    Perhaps I expect too much from our citizens, especially after reading in Scientific American that 25% of high school graduates can't read. Looking at the situation logically, air travel should not have suffered as greatly as it has. Security was good enough before the attack to get people on the planes, and, if anything, has increased since then. Why are people still reluctant to fly? Because they don't realize that the probability of another similar terrorist attack has been reduced since the last one. The Consumer Confidence Index has plummeted. What could you possibly be doing with your money? Do you honestly think it would be worth something if The Worst(TM) occurred? I can understand perhaps saving a little for a rainy day, but if you quit buying things you'll lose your own job. That's right -- you spending money keeps you employed.

    It boils down to the fact that people are just scared. They don't know what's going to happen next. They'll do anything to get that sense of security back. What people don't realize is that security is an illusion. There never was any security, only the probability that everyone would follow the unwritten rules of behavior. The fact that some 6,000 people died is nothing in comparison to the 37,000 who died on the nation's highways last year. Did we have a huge memorial for them? Did movie stars get together and collect money for orphaned children and improve highway saftey? No. Is it that people now realize that planes can actually hit skyscrapers? Probably. But that potentiality has always been there.

    What people need to realize is that there are some things that are just beyond their control. There is nothing you can do about fixing the tragedy in New York.[0] The event has happened. All you can do is try to find ways to prevent it. For the average person, this means paying more in taxes to increase airport security. That's it. For the not-so-average person, you can try self-defense classes (to attack hijackers next time) and perhaps registering to become an air marshal. But, once again, this only reduces the probability that you will die in an air disaster, it does not eliminate it.

    Let that which does not matter, truly not matter[1]. You can't honestly have a life if you're worried about things that are beyond your control. Consider the possibilites and weigh the risks against the benefits. If more people would do so, I would hazzard a guess that our current situation would not be as bleak as it is.

    [0] Donating blood, money, food and clothing is about it, but does that really change the fact that people are dead and the buildings are collapsed?

    [1] Or, more specifically, "Don't worry about the things you have no control over."



    [ Parent ]
    Airport security... (2.50 / 2) (#44)
    by derek3000 on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:21:32 PM EST

    has definitely not improved. The other day, a man who lives in Chester Co. PA., near me, got through Phila. airport security with 4 box cutters. As soon as he got through, he called the FAA and FBI to tell them about the lax security. So, did they thank him? No, they arrested him. We have no way of knowing whether our airports are safe or not because we aren't allowed to!

    In a few years, the airline industry will recover when they start providing their own security. The airline that is the safest will beat the rest of the competition. Of course, this is only if the government lets it happen.

    -----------
    Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars

    What was the guy expecting? (3.00 / 3) (#46)
    by squigly on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:52:12 PM EST

    He went through security with some offensive weapons. What did he expect would happen if he was stopped? "Oh yes, Sir. I just wanted to check your security".

    Anyway, he should certainly be arrested. By taking the weapons through security, he was (most likely) breaking the law. As long as he gets a fair trial, its up to the court to decide whether he should be let off on the grounds that he had good intentions, or whether the law should be applied universally.

    [ Parent ]

    Technically... (4.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Kasreyn on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 07:46:51 PM EST

    ...he was not "stopped", he made it through their security, then he turned himself in. If I were the Feds, I'd let him off light (since he surrendured himself), and I'd put some fucking pressure on that airport to take a slight dip in their profits to get some fucking metal detectors or maybe pay their guards more than 6 bucks an hour.


    -Kasreyn


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    He shouldn't have taken it upon himself. (none / 0) (#69)
    by squigly on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 05:41:25 AM EST

    My point is that he might have been stopped. It must have been a possibility, and if he was stopped, then the penalty wouldn't have been any different.

    Anyway, breaking the law to prove that security is hopeless should not be encouraged even if (as in this case) no-one was harmed. People really should be discouraged from doing this. If nothing else, the plice don't need thee hassle of trying to keep up with all the good samaritans.

    Finally, if you look at it from the FBI's point of view - They had someone phone up and say that they had smuggled some box cutters to airside. The safest response is to send some men in to arrest the guy, and take the risk that this is probably an overreaction.

    [ Parent ]

    Your windoze boxes are all secure... (none / 0) (#71)
    by Greyshade on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 03:20:05 AM EST

    So you have no need to test them yourselves. Just trust what you are told, and stay in line. There... that's a good boy. It's nice to know that we don't need independent security analists anymore.

    [ Parent ]
    Well, if it was HIS airport..... (none / 0) (#74)
    by squigly on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 11:17:01 AM EST

    If he was employed to test security, or at least got permission then it would have been fine. Personally, I'd be a little offended if someone hacked into my box, then told me that its insecure. I'd probably be a little more grateful if they just did a portscan, told me what was wrong, and how to secure it. If someone broke into my flat to tell me that I need a stronger front door, then I probably would have them arrested.

    In all these cases, you can tell people that their security sucks by telling them that their security sucks rather than having to demonstrate it. Just because you have good intentions doesn't mean that others will see it that way.

    [ Parent ]

    Portscan? (none / 0) (#77)
    by Kasreyn on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 06:22:43 PM EST

    Are you aware that under our (american, assuming you're american too) laws they can get you for "breaking in" to computers for nothing more than some kinds of portscans?

    This is the equivalent of walking up to a house, jiggling the doorknob, and finding it unlocked. What this means is, in computers, the only WAY to test security is to "break" it. The person you're replying to has a good point. If this sort of thing were carried across the board to computing, it would put an end to the security profession.


    -Kasreyn


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    Its all about perceived intentions (none / 0) (#78)
    by squigly on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 04:51:18 AM EST

    Yeek. This is getting disturbingly off topic. I'm also quite aware that I'm not putting my argument across very well, so my apologies for this. (btw, not American, not that that makes a lot of difference with our draconian Cabinet ministers)

    In my opinion, a portscan is quite harmless. Its totally passive. The amount of traffic generated is neglibible. Anti-portscan laws are daft, but I won't get into that right now.

    What I don't agree with is doing these "favours" for people. If you ask before attempting, they might say yes, in which case, you can do whatever you want, but only with permission of the owner. Speaking for myself, I don;t want people tinkering with my computer without informing of their intentions beforehand.

    [ Parent ]

    Re; Airport Security (none / 0) (#47)
    by ipoverscsi on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 04:18:33 PM EST

    It is true that airport security in general has yet to improve, but you can be damned sure that it has at Boston's Logan airport. But my point was that security before this disaster was "good enough" to get people to fly, so why isn't it now? The probability that an event such as that to occur in the immediate near future is too slim to consider plausible. There should be no reason at this time to avoid getting on an airplane.



    [ Parent ]
    not good enough anymore (none / 0) (#57)
    by rehan on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 04:19:12 AM EST

    Well, personally, I'm itching to fly (a small one in the eye for the terrorists and cheap prices). Plus it's probably still safer than driving :)

    However, security before the attack obviously wasn't good enough to lower the risk to acceptable levels - people just thought it was. Now they're reevaluating what the risks are and whether the security improvements are good enought to counter them. It'll just take some time for them to become realistic again :(


    Stay Frosty and Alert


    [ Parent ]
    nationalism (3.33 / 3) (#53)
    by nodsmasher on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 10:17:23 PM EST

    history can show us that nationalism can lead to bad things, take what hapended in the panamanian cannal zone in the '60's a law was passed that said whenever there was a us flag there also head to be a panamanian one next to it. So at a high school in the zone the school hand't put in the secend flag poll yet so they didn't fly the us flag. so a group of students put up the us flag and guard it to make sure nobody takes it down. this leads to a riot where people die. all this for what? stupid nationalistic pride. Is your flag worth dieing for or are the the freadoms it stands for like not flying the flag more important
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
    -Tatarigami
    re: nationalism (none / 0) (#59)
    by TheLer on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 01:54:12 PM EST

    Son, is the King's English your first language?

    [ Parent ]
    sadly (none / 0) (#60)
    by nodsmasher on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 02:45:02 PM EST

    sadly yes
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
    -Tatarigami
    [ Parent ]
    I am no more afraid to fly than I was before (4.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Karmakaze on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 03:40:44 PM EST

    I wasn't afraid to fly before 9/11, and I am not afraid now. Of course, I can no better afford to fly now than I could before 9/11 either.

    Fact is, I stood a significantly greater chance of being inside/near one of the destroyed buildings than I would have being on an affected flight. (I fly out of Newark, but I regularly used to take the PATH and subway through WTC and was in the middle of applying for work there.) Does this mean I'm never going to go into NYC again? Never visit my (government employee) family and boyfriend in Washington DC again?

    I've been aware of the shortcomings of "security" for some time. I am reasonably certain that, even now, I could manage to get a weapon on board an airplane if I really really wanted to (and was willing to take the risk of being caught). For one thing, I regularly wear a pair of five to eight inch metal or wood spikes in my hair (chopstick buns). Nobody's even given them a second look, except to ask "do those really hold your hair up?". It would be trivial to replace these with glass stilettos. High heeled ladies' shoes (spike heels) have been used as lethal weapons in the past. I thought about these things before the attack.

    Thing is, there is no such thing as perfect security. I don't expect to be 100% safe. It wasn't possible before and it's not possible now. That's no reason to be afraid of my shadow.


    --
    Karmakaze

    Security is not an illusion. (4.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Jave on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 10:42:50 PM EST

    To say that security is an illusion isn't really true. In the late 80's we were supporting shady governments to maintain control of spheres of influence throughout the world. Those goverments gave us intelligence - eye and ears throughout the world. We also (via our intelligence agencies) employed shady individuals that infiltrated groups such as the Al Quaeda and kepts us apprised of their enterprises. Our error was that we thought that with the winding down of the Cold War, we had no enemies to fight, and no real threats from third parties. Thus, we cut funding to the shady governements and individuals that gave us eyes and ears on the actions and plans of people such as Bin Laden (who at one point was funded by us when it was useful to use him against the Soviets). The price of our security was associating with individuals that did not match our value system. It seems as though we have spent the last decade "purifying" our intelligence and defense agencies by cutting funding of human intelligence - spies. That allowed us to be clean and moral, but at the same time the we were less prepared for things such as the events of 9/11. Every day of every year our government is aware of terrorists moving about the world. We never hear of their successes, only their failures. And we have foiled many, many attempts to do what was done on 9/11 (although none have been as dastardly as 9/11). Security is possible. It comes at a cost though, to our sense of morality, to our wallets, and to our freedoms. We can put potential terrorist on our payroll and use them to prevent these tragedies. We can covertly assassinate those who plot against us. We can put armed troops every where there is risk. Israel is an example of this situation. They do all these things, and have the gold standard for secure aviation. Security is a reality, but it comes at a cost. That cost was one we have not been willing to pay, until perhaps now.

    To quote Helen Keller (none / 0) (#75)
    by eug on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 12:02:08 PM EST

    "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." From "The Open Door"

    [ Parent ]
    In more ways than one (none / 0) (#79)
    by aminorex on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 09:34:04 PM EST

    The terrorists also succeeded in turning the U.S. into a police state in which any meaningful political dissent is a crime punishable by executive fiat, without recourse to courts of law: Politechbot reports that Radio Free Eireann, Al Lewis Live, and Our Americas have all been pulled from the web as a result of recent "anti-terrorist" legislation.

    Congratulations, Terrorists --- You've Won! | 79 comments (77 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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