August 4, 2013

At what cost, 'security'?

Across the world today, the United States has shuttered its embassies due to an intercepted al Queda message that indicated a major attack was planned.

There most certainly won't be an attack on an embassy today.

Not because they are closed, but because, purposefully or not, our nation and its media are shouting from the rooftops about the threat, and the steps we are taking to thwart it.

I am not sure how the 'intelligence community' and our government operates, if they are actually releasing accurate and timely information to the public, or if they are playing some bigger picture game of verbal chicken with potential attackers.

What I am sure of, is that another 9/11-style attack can't be anticipated.  Crazed terrorists cannot be profiled.  Their ideas can't be anticipated.  Pre-9/11, who would have thought that any group would go so far, and take so many intentional steps, to harm American people?

We don't think like 'they' do.  We struggle to explain the acts of serial killers, rapists, pedophiles, and now, terrorists.  People may claim to be experts, they may think that they have the ability to predict the actions of crazy people, but that is a pipe dream.  Logic can't overcome the illogical.  Sane people can recognize insanity, but not foretell its actions. 

When my family visited the 9/11 memorial site this week, we were subjected to airport-style security.  I suppose I can justify the possibility of a crazed person visiting the site of the terror attack and staging some other type of attack - but that doesn't seem to me, to be the high body count sort of thing that true jihadists seek. 

I won't list them, but the nefarious part of me can look around and think of dozens of ways that someone wishing to do harm could be successful.  There are gaping holes in our national security that would be easily exploited.  As Americans are herded barefoot through x-ray machines at the airports, and live in a country where the government has used these potential risks to justify constant monitoring of the citizenry, I can't shake the feeling that we are missing the mark.

I don't like our president, but one certainly has to acknowledge that it would be hard to function, much less sleep at night, if we all had the knowledge and information that he does, about all the ways terrorists are trying to harm us.  On the other hand, that information shouldn't serve as an excuse to violate our freedoms on a daily basis.

I would argue that the terrorists won, not in war, not in bombings, not when the planes crashed, not when our ambassador died - the terrorists won when our government changed our lives and converted our country to a police state, all in the name of security.

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