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Treating EVERYONE Like a Potential Terrorist Weakens Our Ability to Protect America

Washington’s Blog [1]
August 16, 2013

Bruce Schneier is an internationally-recognized [2] security expert [3] who regularly writes for CNN [4]Wired [4]and other publications. Schneier’s blog was just listed by Time as one of the 25 best blogs [5] in the world. Schneier trounced the former head of the TSA [6] (87% to 13%) in a recent debate on airport security hosted by the Economist.

Washington’s Blog asked Schneier 3 questions today by email.

[Q] Many top experts (including you) have said that mass surveillance on Americans is harmful to national security [7], as it makes the haystack too big to search meaningfully for bad guys.

As a layperson, it seems to me that the same is true with many of our counter-terrorism efforts since 9/11 [8].

[A] Yes.

[Q] For example, Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calculates that the U.S. will end up spending $3-5 trillion [9] dollars in the Iraq war [a Brown University study actually concluded that the Iraq war could end up costing $6 trillion dollars [10]]. Yet the 9/11 Commission found that Iraq had no connection to 9/11 [11].

[A] Right.

[Q] Similarly, “mission creep” has resulted in numerous activities – including protesting or being a privacy advocate – being labelled as “potential terrorism” [12].

Putting aside the fact that this is trashing our Constitutional liberties [13], is this counterproductive from a counter-terror perspective because it “creates a bigger haystack” and distracts our intelligence, defense and law enforcement services from focusing on actually finding and stopping the real terrorists who want to kill people on U.S. soil?

[A] I certainly think so.