Free Markets, Free People

How Terrorism Wins – Part II

Fareed Zakaria provides the second installment in how terrorists win (the example of the Met deciding not to show art depicting the prophet Mohammed being the first):

In responding to the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day, Sen. Dianne Feinstein voiced the feelings of many when she said that to prevent such situations, “I’d rather overreact than underreact.” This appears to be the consensus view in Washington, but it is quite wrong. The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population. Terrorism is an unusual military tactic in that it depends on the response of the onlookers. If we are not terrorized, then the attack didn’t work. Alas, this one worked very well.

He is exactly right. Terrorism is all about effecting change through the threat of or use of violence. It is a tool of the weak that can be devastatingly effective if those at whom it is aimed overreact. The aim may be political change. The aim may be economic change. Or terrorists may be satisfied with any change they can effect through their actions which makes life miserable for those at whom it is aimed. As Zakaria points out, given our response, the latest terrorist failure is, in fact, a win. We’re jumping through our collective arses trying to react to the threat and pretty much settling on making air travel more miserable for everyone.

Overreacting to terrorist attacks plays into al-Qaeda’s hands. It also provokes responses that are likely to be large-scale, expensive, ineffective and possibly counterproductive. More screening for every passenger makes no sense. When searching for needles in haystacks, adding hay doesn’t help. What’s needed is a larger, more robust watch list that is instantly available to all relevant government agencies. Almost 2 million people travel on planes in the United States every day. We need to isolate the tiny percentage of suspicious characters and search them, not cause needless fear in everyone else.

We know, to this point the one common thread that links these “needles” and separates them from the “hay”. But we continue to resist using that as a discriminator as we refine our security searches because, apparently, discrimination (aka “profiling”) is a much worse political sin than getting airliners with 300 souls on board blown out of the sky.

It simply defies common sense.

~McQ

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5 Responses to How Terrorism Wins – Part II

  • “But we continue to resist using that as a discriminator as we refine our security searches because, apparently, discrimination (aka “profiling”) is apparently a much worse political sin than getting airliners with 300 souls on board blown out of the sky.”
    CAIR, that staunch supporter of civil liberty for all, will greatly regret and might even condemn, the loss of life should such a thing happen, praise Allah.  Until then, how DARE you suggest that the peace loving peoples of Islam might be the (overwhelmingly) predominate parties involved in carrying out acts of Islamofundamentalist terror.
    Besides, these are nothing more than isolated extremists, and the system worked, so no fear that we’ll need to worry about that exploding aircraft business.  We will continue to strip search blue haired grannies from Idaho (while carefully avoiding purple haired trannies from San Francisco, and anyone who looks “Middle Eastern”).

  • We don’t need profiling to identify Individuals like the Christmas-Day Bomber!
     
    Virtually all media outlets are discussing whether we should be profiling all Arab Muslims; I will in the one-page explain why we don’t need profiling. Over 15 years ago, we at the Center for Aggression Management developed an easily-applied, measurable and culturally-neutral body language and behavior indicators exhibited by people who intend to perpetrate a terrorist act.  This unique methodology utilizes proven research from the fields of psychology, medicine and law enforcement which, when joined together, identify clear, easily-used physiologically-based characteristics of individuals who are about to engage in terrorist activities in time to prevent their Moment of Commitment.
     
    The Problem
    Since the foiled terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, the President has repeatedly stated that there has been a systemic failure as he reiterates his commitment to fill this gap in our security.  This incident, like the Fort Hood shooting, exemplifies why our government must apply every valid preventative approach to identify a potential terrorist.
     
    The myriad methods to identify a terrorist, whether “no-fly list,” “explosive and weapons detection,” mental illness based approaches, “profiling” or “deception detection” – all continue to fail us.  Furthermore, the development of deception detection training at Boston Logan Airport demonstrated that the Israeli methods of interrogation will not work in the United States.
     
    All media outlets are discussing the need for profiling of Muslim Arabs, but profiling does not work for the following three reasons:
     
    1.    In practice, ethnic profiling tells us that within a certain group of people there is a higher probability for a terrorist; it does not tell us who the next terrorist is!
     
    2.    Ethnic profiling is contrary to the value our society places on diversity and freedom from discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, age and/or gender based criteria. If we use profiling it will diminish our position among the majority of affected citizens who support us as a beacon of freedom and liberty.
     
    3.    By narrowing our field of vision, profiling can lead to the consequence of letting terrorists go undetected, because the terrorist may not be part of any known “profile worthy” group – e.g., the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh
     
    The Solution
    Our unique methodology for screening passengers can easily discern (independently of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, and gender) the defining characteristics of human beings who are about to engage in terrorist acts.
     
    The question is when will our government use true “hostile intent” through the “continuum of aggressive behavior” to identify potential terrorists?  Only when observers focus specifically on “aggressive behavior” do the objective and culturally neutral signs of “aggression” clearly stand out, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters. This method will not only make all citizens safer, but will also pass the inevitable test of legal defensibility given probable action by the ACLU.
     
    As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab’s entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong.  Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?
     
    Visit our blog at http://blog.AggressionManagement.com where we discuss the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist act on Flight 253.

  • Fareed Zakaria  – … Sen. Dianne Feinstein voiced the feelings of many when she said that to prevent such situations, “I’d rather overreact than underreact.” This appears to be the consensus view in Washington, but it is quite wrong. The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population.

    McQHe is exactly right. Terrorism is all about effecting change through the threat of or use of violence… We’re jumping through our collective arses trying to react to the threat and pretty much settling on making air travel more miserable for everyone.

    I agree that terrorism is a tool, a means to an end: people (except for psychos and sadists) usually have a goal when they commit acts of violence.  However, “terrorizing” the victim or making his life miserable is generally not the goal.  AQ’s goal is to affect our Middle Eastern policy, NOT merely to “terrorize” us or make flying more uncomfortable / troublesome.  Unless we do what they want (withdraw from the area, throw Israel under the bus, etc), they have NOT won a victory any more than we won a victory when the Germans built more AA guns and interceptors in response to our strategic bombing campaign during World War II.

    Lest it be thought that I am advocating the “I’m too macho to be a-scared of the terrorists” attitude that many on the left have suggested, I am very much in favor of aggressive, sensible security precautions, both defensive (screening / profiling airline passengers) and ESPECIALLY offensive (hunting down terrorists overseas and otherwise destroying their networks, cells, and sponsors).  The goal is not Zakaria’s “isolate the tiny percentage of suspicious characters and search them”, but rather to try to arrange matters such that there are no terrorists around to try to board an aircraft in the first place.