Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:17

Terrorism: I am NOT Afraid


This is an open letter to the leaders of Australia, and by implication most other world leaders, the ones who think they are doing the right thing by limiting my freedoms; by accusing me of being a terrorist; by PROTECTING me.

Afraid of terrorism?  Count me out.

I was drawn to writing this by today’s piece extolling the virtues of “Registered Travellers Cards” guaranteed by biometric systems.  The Australian General Manager of Unisys, Andrew Barkla was quoted in the article as saying “I think it's certainly something that has shown great benefit overseas that could equally be applied to Australia.”  Barkla was also quoted as expressing that he believed Australians would be in favour of such a card.

Afraid of terrorism?  Count me out.

Barkla then loses the plot completely.  He suggests that such cards would have prevented the recent evacuation of Brisbane Airport when 9 people inadvertently bypassed the x-ray security screening facility in the Qantas Domestic Terminal. 

Huh?  How would a card stop people inadvertently bypassing security?

I worked in the Biometrics industry some time ago.  I know how keen they are to beat up every possible security into a product.  And the only people with money are the government.  And with the government, the only game in town worth playing is terrorism.

Afraid of terrorism?  Count me out.

You know, what really scares me is how the government, the various police authorities, sundry security forces and private industry groups ALL want me to be mortally afraid of terrorism.  How they trade on the induced fear of the general population – the fear that THEY specifically induced – becomes their total world of operation.  In another industry, a long way from terrorism, they used to have a saying: “follow the money.”  Seems a long way has become a very short way.

Afraid of terrorism?  Count me out.

Almost all governments are addicted to terrorism; some even know what it is.

We, the ordinary people are paying for all this.  The lies, the half-truths, the deceptions and the misrepresentations.  All of these things are specifically intended to drive up our fear-level and (worst of all) encourage us to pay for the privilege.

There is (as Bruce Schneier puts it) a war on the unexpected.  Any time someone does something unexpected, unusual, out of the ordinary, they MUST be suspicious.  There are endless stories of police reports filed over people taking tourist photos, of camera enthusiasts photographing something interesting even of teenage pranks being labelled terror activity.

As an anonymous poster on Schneier’s blog says, “Comrade, let me see your papers. Now! Tell me, comrade, what are you doing here in the middle of this public open space watching people stroll by? Are you some kind of subversive agent who takes pleasure in exercising your civil rights?" 

However, the people are starting to fight back.  Some time ago, a small lobby group called DownsizeDC started to promote a petition to convince the politicians of the world that their “war on terror” is not backed by their voters.  The petition is simple – tell your local politician, your local runner-up, all your local candidates; tell the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, all the Cabinet Ministers; and if they won’t listen, tell the Leader of the Opposition and all his team the following:

I am not afraid of terrorism, and I want you to stop being afraid on my behalf. Please start scaling back the official government war on terror. Please replace it with a smaller, more focused anti-terrorist police effort in keeping with the rule of law. Please stop overreacting. I understand that it will not be possible to stop all terrorist acts. I am not afraid.

I am not afraid.

Burning money (in fact, burning LOTS of money) on security technology, on “protecting” the public from themselves has NEVER caught one single terrorist; probably never will.  Does anyone have any idea how much investigative, “good old” policing this would have bought?  Good old policing, the kind that has stopped countless crimes – some of which might have been terrorism.

Sadly, I’m left with a fragment from the 1982 Tears for Fears song “Mad World.”

"And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad.
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had.
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take.
When people run in circles it's a very, very mad world

Good luck.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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