back to article Surveillance state can't monitor itself, says US

It would be impractical for the US to monitor how its border guards use the massive databases it is building on European citizens, US Homeland Security Security secretary Michael Chertoff told the European Parliament yesterday. Answering questions before an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong, so so wrong

    He suggested ... that "it is better that a thousand guilty go unpunished lest one innocent man be wrongly punished" might be outmoded.

    "The balance becomes somewhat different when we aim to prevent attacks," he said. "You must ask yourself this question - whether you would be satisfied to be constrained by slow-moving processes if the consequence would be to allow an attack go forward that would kill thousands of people or perhaps millions of people, including ones own children."

    This is so sick and wrong. What about if it was you or your children that were locked up, or even excicuted, by the state for a crime you didnt comit, all because someone thought there was a posibility you commited a crime.

    We are loosing everything that has keped us free for nearly 2000 years, all because the USA is getting Xenophobic. They are risking going to way of Germany in the 1930's.

    This worrys me alot. I am not someone given to US bashing or anti globalisum, but undermining the very principlas of the Magna Carta and Hamius Courpus is not just wrong but evil and morraly bancrupt.

    We have keped our Legal system through Wars, invasions, Civil wars, riots, civil unrest and even through the Irish troubles (Which were just as dangorous - Less people may have died, but only because the Irish terrorists always had SOME decency always gave warning but they could have that stoped at any time and started real killing). Why are we letting President Bush and Blair take it all away?

    Lets just hope that now Blair has gone we get a PM with some balls to stand up to that slobering fool the US calls a head of state.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Terrorism is not new

    "There's one very big difference between prosecuting a crime that has occured in the past and to seek justice"

    Bin Laden had already committed acts of terrorism, he was already wanted by the US. No crystal ball needed.

    "He suggested the Anglo-Saxon legal principle that "it is better that a thousand guilty go unpunished lest one innocent man be wrongly punished" might be outmoded."

    1. We've faced terrorism since the start of time. It's not new. Arguing that we throw out the legal basis of our society to face a 'new' threat that's not new is just sophistry.

    2. We certainly don't let 1000 guilty men go free for every successful conviction. An exaggerated phrase not reflecting pragmatic reality.

    3. If you prosecute 1000 innocent men, you create 10,000 terrorists and 100,000 potential rioters. Look at the Rodney King beating, the unfairness in that resulted in the LA riots. You could argue Rodney King deserves it for likely future crimes, but try convincing rioters.

    4. We have an agreed system, defined in law that's stood the test of time. Chertoff's should not put his loyalty to Bush above his duty.

    The only thing new here, is a crap president who didn't read or act on a memo from the CIA warning him of an imminent attack. The memo came from competent CIA agents monitoring known terrorists groups, not from blanket random searching, not from fortune tellers reading the future. Bin Laden had already issued fatwas and was already behind previous attacks.

    "You must ask yourself this question - whether you would be satisfied to be constrained by slow-moving processes if the consequence would be to allow an attack go forward that would kill thousands of people or perhaps millions of people, including ones own children."

    How about:

    1. When the army corp of engineers tells you the New Orleans' levee is too low for future storms, you raise them.

    2. When the storm center warns you the levees won't cope with the coming hurricane, you evacuate. At least evacuate the children.

    3. When the army tells you the levees have broken, you declare an emergency and get the people out damn fast.

    4. When the CIA gives you a memo warning of imminent attack and has to send it's top guys to try to convince you to act, and it's your job, you at least call a meeting with the FBI? Not even a single meeting! Not a telephone call to warn the airports, nothing.

    5. That you don't increase attacks on random innocent people because that causes riots, anger and even terrorism. A wiser leader would know this.

  3. Stuart Van Onselen

    Old Laws Need Not Apply

    "laws governing war might not "adequately reflect" the 21st century threat"

    As opposed to all the other centuries during which terrorism was unknown, and thus no defences or laws where created in response to it.

    (Let's just forget that terrorism stretches all the way back to Moses and the Flight from Egypt.)

    In fact, in *this* century it is better to arrest a couple of completely innocent people (like Maher Arar) and toture them for a year or two, than to run the risk of one bad man getting in and killing thousands. Sacrificing one for the good of thousands sounds good, doesn't it?

    (Let's just pretend that these almost-random and politically-motivated arrests actually *do* prevent attacks, instead of just waste the time of law enforcement officers, and make innocent people's lives a living hell.)

    Oh dear, I should shut up - After all, I'm just "Yank-bashing" because I'm jealous of all the great American achievements. Not because they've actually done anything *wrong*, perish the thought!

  4. Russell Sakne

    Successive US administrations...

    ...refuse to learn the lessons of the past. They refuse to learn from the lessons other people have learned. Whether that's arrogance: "it won't be like that for us because we're special" or stupidity, it remains wilful ignorance.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    er, terrorists have the power to wage war as of nation states a few years ago?

    yes, Bin Laden has a fleet of subs and battlecruisers in the north atlantic ready to cut our supllies, not to mention his vast air force.

    millions died in WWI and WWII as opposed toa few thousand dead from terrorists in the last decade.

    I don't fear terrorism as much as state totalitarianism which seems to be

    how the anglo-saxon world is drifting.

  6. Dave

    Ban Peanuts and Drivers

    A few thoughts for governments to ponder regarding terrorism in their countries.

    1. How many people have terrorists killed in the past ten years?

    2. How many people have been killed in traffic incidents?

    3. How many people have died from peanut-related incidents?

    4. How much money has been spent on each of the above to reduce the fatalities?

    5. What government policies might have influenced the number?

    You only need to go through all the stupid palaver at an airport to realise that the terrorists are winning.

  7. Alien8n

    Paranoia a go-go

    I'm dreading any trip to the USA due to the fact that my work involves travel to many countries.

    A short while ago one of our guys went to Bolivia for a meeting. The meeting fell through and a hasty flight back to the UK was arranged via Miami airport from Peru. Upon arrival at Miami he was immediately whisked away for a full strip search and when he boarded the plane for the UK the passengers who were supposed to be sat next to him had been moved to other seats and he had 2 air marshalls plonked in the seats instead.

    His crime to be treated as though he was part of some major terrorist cell plotting to blow up a flight from the US? He's Portugese and has visited Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey. What makes this really ironic is a) He was visiting those countries on behalf of a major US multinational. b) One of our current contracts is being funded by the US state department.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can't monitor themselves ...

    There is a very easy and simple explanation as to why they can't monitor themselves.

    1: They are unable to monitor anything in an intelligent way.

    2: If they somehow managed to do it, they would be forced to admit what everyone already knows, all those measures are useless.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The War On Paranoia

    A message to our American friends...

    Firstly, this is NOT about bashing America. This is whole-hearted disagreement about how your country is dividing the whole world by its ham-fisted massive over-reactions, and how its trampling all over an individual's freedoms - even when that individual doesn't even reside in the US. You are not the first nation in the world to suffer terrorism and you certainly won't be the last. But, you shriek, what about 9/11!! 9/11!!! Won't somebody think of the children!!!

    What about 9/11?

    The British have suffered more casualties from terrorism than the US. Plain and simple fact. And don't forget that most of these casualties were caused in part by the funding that the IRA received from, er, the US. Again, fact, plain and simple. Being a former British Soldier who served in Northern Ireland (1993 & 1995), I cannot convey in words the fear I felt every single day in Belfast wondering whether the next street contained a bomb or sniper. And it was funded, in part, by the good citizens of the US. Hipocrisy, maybe?

    Anyway, I now earn a very, very good wage through my own company working in the financial sector. Last month I sold shares I had in a US company (partly because the dollar is going to get weaker) and found my details and transactions were recorded by the US government through the SWIFT debarcle. What with this first intrusion, my fingerprints and biometrics being recorded if I ever even transitted through the US being recorded, and god knows what other interviews, financial record checks and possible refusal of entry by some border guard who doesn't even have to record the reason why I have been refused all means I have now taken the commercial decision NOT to have any more dealings with the US.

    Ask yourselves this - how many more people will take the same decision, with the obvious effects on the US economy? How many families will not go to Disneyland? How many investors will take their money elsewhere? And all because of a paranoid Government who think the world and its information, whether private or not, is theirs for the taking...

  10. Albert Waltien

    A prayer from New York

    From Bushies and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night, Lord God protect us!

    I think I know how it must have felt to be a German during Hitler's early days in power!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are you really surprised ...

    ... by these comments?

    From the same leadership team that has an Attorney General who thinks the Geneva Conventions are "quaint."

    Our country is in a bad way. I'm really trying to think of a time in history when the US may have been giving the rest of the world a larger middle finger than we are right now. Pre-WWII, perhaps.

    Great societies rise and fall, and the US is declining. How we treat people now will set a blueprint for how we are treated when we are no longer "The Big Guy." All the self-pride and chest pounding in the world won't mean much then.

  12. De Zeurkous


    That's 'Sophie in 't Veld' :^) Trust me, I'm a native Dutch speaker...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The War Against Terror...



  14. Greg Nelson

    Neo Crypto Nazi Neo Cons

    There was, and perhaps still is, a running joke in some Internet forums that invoking Nazism in a argument automatically vitiates the comment. Sadly this is no longer true.


    The neocons in America, Britain, Canada and elsewhere are pushing for an Information Feudalism wherein the citizenry will be Information Serfs. Feudalism as a loose term can describe a system of Lords (Big Government & Big Corporations), Vassals (Lobbyists, Police Forces (military and civilian), and apologists), and Fiefs (e.g. Dept. of Homeland Security, Corporations with Govt grants, contracts). Serfs, a Russian term, refers to persons who are tied to the a Fief. Information Technology is being used to create an Information Feudalism suppressing Information Serfs. Information Serfs will be tied to their db profile as inescapably as Russian Serfs were tied to the land.

    The "war on terror" isn't the raison d'etre for the neo-crypto-nazi push by neocons. The collapse of the Soviet Union initiated a push to put neocon 'democracy' in every home in every nation. 9/11 and the "war on terror" are just dressing to make the main course more palatable.

    In a quote I can't source I once read Hitler said of Nazi Germany that it was easy to govern a country where everyone was a criminal. To the neocons and the evangelical, religious Right everyone is a sinner. The neocons, the political Right, are in bed with the evangelical religious Right. Constitutionally such people are patriarchal and righteous. Their moral rectitude is like a shared virus that infects anyone foolish enough to crawl into their communal bed. Their sins are many but always forgiven in the name of the father who is power. For such people the procurement of power is confirmation of their right to wield power. They embody, philosophically and biochemically, the adage that power corrupts and, absolute power, corrupts absolutely.

    In Canada the neocons have a power base in Alberta and a federal leader in our present, minority Government Prime Minister. In America there's a widely based saying describing the three boxes on which democracy stands, the soapbox, the ballot box and the ammo box. Edmund Burke wrote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." To say nothing in the face of the workings of the neo crypto nazi neocons is wrong, but not to vote in the face of this threat is to capitulate and leave future generations truly enslaved or with no recourse but the ammo box. Vote, your life depends on it. </soapbox>

  15. Mike


    @Greg Nelson

    "Vote, you rlife depends on it"

    Do you recommend voting by Diebold "We make it so easy, we vote for you" machines, or via absentee ballots which are subject to "quality control" and possibly that knock on the door in the middle of the night to let you know that those in power are deeply concerned about your opinions?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why must i think of the children??

    Why do I always have to think of the children?

    12-16 yr olds pose more of a threat to me than terrorists, in the UK alone more people have died or have been injured both minor and serious injuries this year than through terroist attacks in the UK this year, maybe because of good spook work, but who is hunting and subverting all the yoofs, they who eye my laptop bag en route to my car each day, or eye me up en route to the shops when they hear the subtle jingle of coins and drift towards me.

    I am less likely to flee in terror when i see a sterotypical terrorist, but show me a gang of hoodies holding a 2ltr bottle of White lightening (cider to those who don't know) and i'm off faster than a speeding bullet.

    On another note, "Paranoia a go-go" I work for a Gloabl Logistics firm, during a recent data gathering exercise i spotted some applications being used in Afghanistan, part of my job involves doing IT audits at our Warehouses, checking to see if they are resilient enough to support operations and shift boxes even during IT outages, currently i'm in China. I hope to God i'm not sent to Afghan, otherwise i'm f**ked, my number one client has sites in the US and just over the boarder in Mexico so i'm regulary traveling through TX en route to sites. I might pack my own KY jelly from now on ;o) or fly naked in a plastic suit **Shudders**

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paranoia runs deep, into your heart it will creep.

    The "Kill 'em all, and let God sort 'em out" attitude is so typical of the DOJ/DHS attitude. The Bush Admin. eat's shit and barks at the moon!

  18. chris

    serf not russian

    Serf is a French medieval word, from Latin servus, slave. Same root as service.

This topic is closed for new posts.