Saturday, June 22, 2013

On Prevention

When we lock our doors we are engaging in what may be called "crime prevention". It is, of course, a perfectly acceptable precaution. So, too, when the city chooses to install lights along a dark path in a park that has seen an increase in nighttime aggravated assaults. But when the state begins to track the private communications of its citizens, looking for signs that they are contemplating a criminal act as a way of expressing their political frustration, then we are getting into something sinister.

New York and Washington should not have been vulnerable to the attacks of September 11, 2001. But the current argument, that these targets were unprotected by adequate surveillance of the world's electronic communications, is not only nonsensical but deeply irresponsible. Surely we can imagine a plan to hijack planes that is developed entirely on paper and in face-to-face meetings? Surely, it was the responsibility of those who made enemies of Al-Qaeda to protect America against the reality of attack, not the idea of it, the act of violence, not the thought of it.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

And it was their responsibility to treat the act of violence as a crime and respond accordingly (as every other country attacked by AQ and its ilk has done).