back to article 9/11: The day we lost our privacy and power

Investigative reporter Duncan Campbell reflects how 9/11 has torpedoed resistance to intrusion and undermined privacy rights born of earlier struggles. It may, irreversibly, have changed the way we think. 9/11 was a savage nightmare that took too long to happen for some in the West. For 12 fallow years, from the fall of the …


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  1. Anomalous Cowturd

    Thanks Duncan, great article...

    VPNs and proxies all round?

    1. dave 93

      And support for Wikileaks et al!

      Whistleblowers need are the only way the public can turn these tools against the people who abuse them. I actually like the fact that there are systems and people keeping track of extremists (they do exist) to protect the public, but someone needs to watch the watchers, and have protection for flagging abuses of power.

      1. John Sturdy
        Black Helicopters

        The watchers are the extremists; yes, we need to watch them.

      2. Francis Fish

        False positives

        It only works if there are no false positives, or the probability of them is about the same as their occurrence. Doctrow's "Little Brother" discusses this really well.

        1. Goat Jam


          It's not entirely true that we lost our power. We lost our privacy, that's for sure, but we, as in the people, still hold the balance of power and that hasn't changed one bit.

          The very nature of a scenario where there are rulers and ruled dictates that the ruled must exceed (in number) the rulers,

          Since it is the nature of rulers to extract value from the ruled for as little effort as possible it stands to reason that for a group of rulers to prey on the work output of the ruled they must be numerically inferior, lest the entire ruler/ruled economy collapse under the weight of the predations of the rulers.

          The trick is to prey on ruled to the maximum level possible that still leaves the ruled class the ability to survive without noticing that their work value is being siphoned off for the benefit of a ruling class that offers no value in return to society as a whole.

          It is usually the extreme greed of the ruling class that is their ultimate downfall.

          The middle east riots were not, as the media would have you believe, about citizens wanting to overthrow evil dictators. What they really were about was food shortages and the inability of the citizenry to live with enough of their basic needs fulfilled.

          As soon as the ruled group, which is always numerically superior, becomes agitated enough, they will rise up and once they do so in enough numbers the ruling class have no power to stop them.

          The ruling class are utterly dependent on the ruled class. Without the ruled class they have no food, power or goods of any type.

          Because they have only ever known how to wield power over others to to force them to provide them with life's necessities, once the population at large refuses to do so the rulers have no way of obtaining them by their own work.

          They have no skills other than using the threat of force to achieve their ends.

          The trouble is that people are not willing to band together to overthrow the parasitical tyrants that leach off the work of the normal working man.

          The rulers ensure that this situation remains as the status quo by creating laws that cause conflict, causing groups of people to see other groups of people as their enemies.

          Left vs Right politics, anti-discrimination laws and the obscenely biased family courts are just some examples of laws that cause more trouble than they solve.

          This is a deliberate policy of our rulers to ensure that we do not see the real enemy (them) and instead expend our anger and frustration on other ruled groups, fighting about small potatoes stuff and ignoring the big picture which is the predations of the ruling class on the majority of free men.

          It is no mistake that we are all beholden to befuddling legal system that is incomprehensible to every living man on this planet, even lawyers. It is simply impossible to know every single law that can be possibly broken therefore, by definition, it is impossible to live without accidently breaking a law.

          The fact "The Law" requires us to live by a set of rules that cannot be comprehended and that the outcome of any legal proceeding cannot be predicted tells us that the law is not an instrument of justice, but rather an instrument of repression, to be used against citizens that either have value (wealth) that is coveted by the ruling class or is a citizen who has no wealth, but is a threat to the ruling class, through outright agitation or even a simple refusal to submit to the injustices forced on him by our rulers .

          The entire western socio-economic-legal-military system is corrupt to the very core and exists entirely to allow a small group of individuals to leach from the work output of the majority. The sooner a large enough group wake up and realise what is going on the better these fuckers can be kicked out and lined up.

          And they can stick me in their fucking "agitators database" if they like, because the fact is that if the revolution does come I will be at the front of the pack burning down the corridors of power.

  2. hplasm
    Big Brother

    Lest we should forget.

    Or be renditioned...

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Or rendered

      That has more than one meaning. All the ones I can think of apply...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just the gov't...

    2 months ago, I heard talk about some appliances that will force a MITM attack on SSL connections. Why would someone want to put something like that on their network? Because of "people leaking information". Of course, that means that your company would potentially be reading your bank statements and other stuff they shouldn't be reading. But all in the name of "security"!!!

    BTW, the "attack" basically consists on doing a Corleone and asking for the session key; if you don't give it up, your connection's killed. :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Forefront Threat Management Gateway

      Microsofts threat management gateway sits on your corporate network MITMing your ssl traffic. Your company simply issues a ssl certificate which IE accepts without you noticing(group policy etc) and all your SSL traffic can be monitored by your trustworthy admins.

      If you use Firefox you'll get a warning about untrusted certificates, but most corporate users aren't allowed to install software.

      1. P. Lee
        Big Brother

        re:Forefront Threat Management Gateway

        Bluecoat proxies can do the same.

        I've seen this done in banks where data leakage is actually a problem - I've got no problem in principle about doing this on corporate networks. We found people forwarding all their email to gmail, for example. What I really object to is the fact that it wasn't made clear to employees what was going on. Connect to your home network over ssl and the bank can pick up all your passwords. Ditto if you connect to your bank's website. You expect it to be private, but it isn't and there is no warning. Sneaky behaviour and "trust us" don't go together.

        Bottom line - don't use someone else's kit or software to connect to your own stuff. A lot of the security guys carry their own personal laptops & 3G connections because we're, well, justifiably paranoid.

        1. Vic

          re:Forefront Threat Management Gateway

          > Connect to your home network over ssl and the bank can pick up all your passwords.

          My home webserver (which I use for webmail,. predominantly) has an invalid certificate. I signed it, and it's out of date.

          If I ever try to connect and *don't* get a warning, I know someone is MITMing me.

          If I do get a warning, I check the certificate to make sure it's the one I expect :-)


        2. Danny 14
          Thumb Up

          TMG isnt the only one

          This has been on our network since ISA 2004. As a school we have always monitored "man in the middle" so to speak. Just issue a cert from the domain CA that is trusted throughout the domain. Stops people bypassing the filters via SSL (SSL is stopped then sent through the filters again before going back out as SSL).

          Sure ISA 2004 had a more complex ruleset and im sure TMG gets it done a little more seamlessly.

        3. Duster

          GMAIL and corporate

          There are even places where the owners ENCOURAGE use of gmail because the existing servers of the primary provided for the company will not handle adequate file sizes. One of the problems with the proliferation of electronic "paper" work is that document sizes have ballooned out enormously. The common means of transfer - email - is gradually losing ground against the shear wordiness of the maximum document sizes. Sharepoint services are gradually becoming much more common. Even gmail will buckle under some loads.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      IIRC there is no Corleone involved, just a simple matter of a trusted cert being installed on the device for whatever domain it's intercepting (the recent Belgian CA that was compromised and used to generate 500+ fake "trusted" certs comes to mind) and the only way anyone would ever know (unless they're running Marlinspike's add-on) would be by manually inspecting the certificate and recognizing, for example, that Facebook is presenting a cert from a CA in China instead of whatever CA they really use.

      If the certs are trusted by the browser, most users would never... ever notice their traffic is being intercepted.

      Ars Technica has a very good primer on MITM and the core concerns around the entire CA system for anyone interested. My apologies, but I don't have the link handy from my mobile or I'd paste it in. I would imagine Marlinspike has plenty on it as well too.

      1. Manu T

        AFAIK it wasn't a Belgian CA but an American CA with offices in Holland.

        Funny thing is that mostly US-companies controll and issue these certificates. Has anyone ' investigeted' them?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well it begs the question as why you should be accessing your bank account while you are supposed to be working, however, that is the least of your problems, try using wireshark to monitor your traffic while you are logged in to your secure session with your bank, see where else data your data is being sent to.

      Try doing a test using the ssl mitm proxy software available on the net if you want to see the traffic sent.

      You can try this at work also (if you are brave/stupid/don't give a toss)

      1. Anonymous Coward


        so many negative votes, are we all feeling guilty by surfing while at work?, or perhaps you don't understand how to use wireshark?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The appliance your looking for..

      Can be purchased from here:

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    The honest answer to "Why must you spy on everyone" is

    because we *can*.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      The problem is we have become apathetic. We blindly accept new laws without so much of s squeak, we as a society, are as much to blame for not standing up and saying enough if enough.

      Democracy and living in a free society is an illusion - pure and simple.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Big Brother

        Re: "We blindly accept new laws without so much of a squeak"

        It's not that "we" accept them, but our "elected representatives" (who are supposed to tell Parliament what *we*, their constituents think) usually blindly follow their Party Whips' instructions "this is Party Policy, this is how you will vote".

        A few have the courage to stand up and object, but their voices are generally drowned out and even if they manage to get an amendment tabled, it's usually voted down by the rest.

        "[...] voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

        - Herman Goering

        1. LaeMing

          Well, we elect them,

          so in the end, we (in aggregate) are still to blame.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Thumb Down

            @Well, we elect them...

            ... no, the blame is on those who, when we had the chance to *change* a broken electoral system, decided to believe the FUD spread by the vested interests in politics and the media and *stay* with that broken system after a choice of "FPTP or AV" was foisted upon us instead of us being allowed to decide amongst *ALL* the possible options.

            1. A J Stiles

              FPTP / AV / STV / all the others

              Suppose for a second that we had been offered a choice between first-past-the-post, AV, STV, Party List, Condorcet, IRV, punch-up in a pub car park (it's still fairer than FPTP) and maybe a few other methods.

              Since the new voting system most probably would have been chosen by a first-past-the-post ballot, we most probably would have ended up with FPTP anyway -- even if more people had voted for something else.

              1. Goat Jam

                Recommended Reading

                The PDF linked below might be a bit on the long side at 120 pages and the first 10 or so pages a bit superfluous but the bulk of it is highly recommended.

                Start at page 11 section 3 "Introduction"



          2. A J Stiles

            But do we elect them?

            I made this argument during the AV debate. Basically, we *don't* actually elect our representatives, because human nature is to vote on minor issues on which the population is roughly evenly split and ignore major issues on which there is broad agreement. A candidate with an unpopular position on a major issue but who makes no pronouncement on a minor issue can get elected by default.


            Candidate A supports beheading cute, fluffy kittens.

            Candidate B opposes beheading kittens and supports serving beer in litres instead of pints.

            Candidate C opposes beheading kittens and also opposes serving beer in litres.

            The following Thursday, candidates B and C each score 33% of the vote. Candidate A scores 34% of the vote and wins. And cute, fluffy kittens end up beheaded, even though most people voted against that.

        2. paulc

          Patriot Act...

          ""[...] voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." - Herman Goering"

          Which is precisely why Bush called it the Patriot Act and promptly said that you were either with us, or against us thus poisoning the debate against anyone who dared to speak out against it...

      2. tuna 1

        It's Even Worse...

        The masses flock to gadgets(aka toys) and PAY to give away their privacy under the guise of 'convenience'. All the while, every metric is recorded, stored and sold to 'affiliates'.

  5. b0llchit Silver badge

    Revolution on the horizon

    He who sacrifices privacy for security deserves neither...

    This can only end in revolution.

  6. theBatman

    The Global War On Terror...

    ... is something that makes me feel thoroughly ashamed of my country. It's more evil than terrorism itself... our cowardly politicians need to admit that it's bullshit and put a stop to it.

    That was a great article, thankyou.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For 12 alarming years ... There was no excuse for the construction, funding and operation of surveillance platforms, or justification to tap data funnels into society's communications and transport arteries.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only for 12 years?

      It is not like it was not going on before that.

      Frankly, the article overestimates the role of 9/11. RIPA predates 9/11. So do some of USA surveillance programmes.

      if anything, after 9/11 the constant ongoing and relentless intrusion of the government(s) into your private life became more visible. It also allowed to justify efforts that started _BEFORE_ 9/11. In fact, if there was no 9/11 it would have been necessary to organise one to justify them.

      1. Poor Coco

        Why the use of the conditional?

        "In fact, if there was no 9/11 it would have been necessary to organise one to justify them."

        It *was* organized that way, by your friends at Project for a New American Century, whom you may note had a not-so-tenuous connection with the power base of the US, not to mention (for example) the security company in charge of the WTC (Securicor, with a Bush on the executive board), or Ace Elevator (who performed the largest "elevator modernisation" in history in the 9 months prior to 9/11, and whose techs ran like hell as soon as the attacks started), and so on and so forth.....

        Add to that, the fact that the three WTC office tower collapses on 9/11/01 were thermodynamically inconsistent with a gravitational collapse (as they left little to no energy to dismember the structure) and they are mechanically inconsistent with fire-initiated collapse (as they all imploded or exploded with remarkable symmetry despite totally asymmetrical damage).

        The fundamental problem is that our society is intellectually lazy and unused to determining truth for themselves, on the basis of reasonably objective evidence. If you are prepared to perform physical analyses and to LISTEN to the implications of the physics, the mendacity of the powers that be is undeniable and unmistakable.

        NOT AC, because AC is pointless, and to speak the truth anonymously undermines it.

        1. Chris Miller

          @Poor Coco*

          Your tin-foil hat is showing. Please go and play on the chemtrails sites and leave this one for the grown-ups.

          * that's your real name, then? Poor you!

          1. Poor Coco
            Thumb Down

            Don't put words into my mouth!

            There are certainly total-crock idiotic baseless theories about 9/11 as with anything else (directed energy weapons, etc.) but that does NOT imply the official conspiracy theory is correct.

            There are many, MANY serious flaws and downright gaping holes in the official account, which may easily be patched by referring to physical evidence; physical evidence which was POINTEDLY AND DELIBERATELY IGNORED by the "investigators". This includes the nanothermite (which is not an imaginary product of tinfoil-wearing idiots; it's a product of Lawrence Livermore Labs) which was strewn throughout the WTC debris. It includes the fact that the energy released in this "gravitational collapse" is orders of magnitude larger than extremely generous estimates of the towers' gravitational energies. It includes the fact that the only steel-framed highrises IN HISTORY to collapse in this fashion without the aid o high explosives were WTC 1, 2 and 7.

            I'm in the "tinfoil brigade"? If so, than God I am not in the deep pit of denial you are in.

            And if you want to find my real name, it's published in The Register. Go ahead and find it.

            1. Chris Miller

              I know I shouldn't feed the troll, but

              "the only steel-framed highrises IN HISTORY to collapse in this fashion without the aid o high explosives were WTC 1, 2 and 7"

              Do you think that this could possibly be related to the fact that two of these neighbouring buildings were the only ones IN HISTORY to be struck at high velocity by heavy passenger jets fully laden with fuel?

              And there are "official" conspiracy theories? Who knew??

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                They were short haul flights with 1/2 the fuel capacity on board..

                and the towers were designed to withstand a fully loaded (and fueled) 707. Besides, most of the fuel was 'burnt' upon impact and didn't contribute to heating the steal structures, and even the rest wasn't hot enough to soften the structures. Check the physics.

                1. Chris Miller

                  "short haul" <rolls eyes>

                  Only if you consider New England to California 'short haul' - the flights were deliberately selected to have a large amount of fuel on board. And the building withstood the impact very well (as, indeed, would most similar constructions) - the problem was that the impact stripped most of the fireproof covering from the steel, which was then weakened by the subsequent conflagration.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  designed for Impact

                  As far as I am aware, and I am a structural engineer, the building was designed to resist wind and someone did a quick check to see if the impact of a plane would generate larger forces (which it didn't). In any case, the towers survived the impacts. The towers were not designed to survive a multi-story fire in a damaged state, and of course, they didn't. FEMA didn't have time to do the full analysis, but the cause of collapse was probably instability caused by the expansion of the floor plates due to the heat, this explains why the tower that collapsed first was the one that was hit second but lower. The nanothermite is better explained by other explanations, but I don't have time to post the info.

                  1. Poor Coco

                    Heating the floorpans?

                    You mean, heating the floorpans so vigourously they turn into micron-sized particles moving horizontally at 100 km/h? Yes, that is what we call the work of explosives. And that is precisely what was observed.

                    Now, what is your explanation for the nanothermite? Because there is NO REASON for that material to be found there, and it was found in all three buildings' dust — BEFORE the cleanup operations.

                3. Inachu
                  IT Angle

                  The attacks happend so that neocons can get their wet dream by keeping our troops in all muslim nations as to keep them weak so that Israel can do a massive land grab with little or no resistance. Neocons want Israel to land grab so that it fulfills the objective in the Bible.

                  So any more wars we can not blame muslims. We must blame neocons.

                  That land is theirs and not Americas. Only time USA should war is in defense of our borders and not for someone elses borders. Proxy wars indeed! Send the troops home.

                  If you want to war over there then go put on the hat of the UN or the hat of Israel.

                  1. Goat Jam
                    Paris Hilton

                    FEMA didn't have time to do the full analysis,

                    Because they were busy shipping all the steel girders off to Asia for "recycling" post haste.

                    Why would they do that I wonder? Maybe the spot price for scrap iron was at a high that day?

  8. Chrissy
    Black Helicopters


    Good article.

    But you try and broach this subject to colleagues, friends and family and they will consider you a paranoid wingnut, or dismiss it as "too difficult to understand; who won the football last night?"

    I'd also posit that the act of you writing, and me commenting positively on, this "seditious" article is enough to flag both of us on a database within GCHQ, and we are now considered "domestic extremists" and will be the first to be arrested when the oil runs out and the s**t hits the fan.

    Thats ultimately what this infrastructure is preparing for: 7 billion hungry people with nothing to lose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Scary, and correct

      "Thats ultimately what this infrastructure is preparing for: 7 billion hungry people with nothing to lose."

      After the global cock up that is Wall Street, that is the harsh reality. That too was ""made in the USA". I suspect China will step in soon - after all, they own their asses already many times over.

      1. mark 63 Silver badge
        Paris Hilton


        I dont get it. How can all this surveillance prepare for the 7 billion hungry people with nothing to lose? Is it a way of weighing up whos "up against the wall" first?

      2. Gordon 10


        By creating a "real" reason for this you both cheapen and legitimise it. This is no plan for an end of world disaster or otherwise.

        Its being done because they can *AND WE LET THEM*.

        Any utility outside of this is pure co-incidence or after the event justifications.

    2. John Savard


      If 7 billion hungry people with nothing to lose are going to come at us, and try to take away the peaceful, prosperous, and free lives we've enjoyed from us and our children, hadn't we better be fully prepared to resist them?

      Especially if we aren't able to feed them.

      1. Chrissy

        You, Me & Dupree

        @John Savard

        What makes you think that you and your children aren't going to be part of that 7 Billion? Did you notice I didn't say anything about where those 7 Billion are coming from? That 7 billion are US.

        In WW2, the UK had a population of 44 million and was barely able to feed itself using the entire landmass of the UK, with minimal imports due to U-Boats - why do you think we had rationing and Buck Palace's gardens being converted into allotments??

        The UK population is now officially 62 million, or really 77 Million -

        The only way those 77 million are being fed is through imports, intensively mechanised farming and distribution and artificial, energy intensive nitrogen fertilisers; all of those will not happen without oil.

        We will be going back to a WW2 subsistence situation, only with an extra 34 million mouths to feed. All countries will be having the same problem at the same time and will feed themselves first. With no major transport ability we wouldn't be able to import their non-existent exports anyway.

        You and your children ARE in that 7 billion.

        And don't think we can simply migrate to bio-diesel and it remains all hunky-dory - we either eat or drive, not both, and there's not enough lithium in the world for us to all spin around in electric cars.

        Do you know what really triggered most of those Arab Spring uprisings? Food prices, forced up by food crops being replaced with bio-diesel crops. Watch some Al-jazera, read eg Flat Earth News to understand why you haven't been hearing this angle from Western media.

        That is the future.

        And read this:

        You won't see any national Governments' similar official assessments in public any time soon, even though they do exist as highly classified documents; their populations cannot psychologically handle the news, and the default psychological response is denial - you are an example of this..."it'll never affect me and mine".

        Sorry John, but it will.

        1. Silverburn

          @ Chrissy

          Why the f* do we have 7bn anyway?

          many overlook the simplest, cheapest method of returning to sustainability - ethical population control. It can be done, and the results far more effective than any green wash. It would at least allow us to wean ourselves off oil-based agriculture.

          Why do we always think earth does have enough resources to support us...why don't we think the alternative - that perhaps there's too many of us for earth to support? Why is population control so taboo?

          1. JohnMurray

            Population control, yes.

            Ethical ?


            The only population control that will work is not birth-quantity control, but death-by-age-or-health.

            Quite simply....

            Over 65 ?

            Not ample financial provision for old-age/retirement ?


        2. Gordon 10

          Anyone who believes peak oil or similar shit is the end of our world can just fuck off, find a corner, and blow thier brains out.

          Leave the rest of us who actually have a small iota of faith left in the human race rest get on with working out how to get through it.

        3. Rob Aley

          > The UK population is now officially 62 million, or really 77 Million - /news/business/comment/city-eye-facts-on-a-plate-our-population-is-at-least-77-million-395428.html.

          I really wouldn't put much faith in the numbers in that article, for two reasons :

          1 - food waste is a huge problem, All the food companies (be it producers, manufacturers or retailers) can tell you is how much food THEY sell (and how much THEY waste), not how much WE actually EAT vs. how much WE waste. We waste a lot more food than the food companies want to talk about, because our waste is easy money for them.

          2 - As demonstrated in the article regarding supermarket market share, they have an inherent bias towards making the market seem as large as possible.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The 7 billion...

        ...will include us.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "If 7 billion hungry people with nothing to lose are going to come at us" - I think you completely missed his point...there are 7billion people in the world , you will be amoungst them not part of the ruling elite.

        Fortress America...hmmmm.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just a teeny weeny bit pathetic?

      The tone of some of the answers here sounds like children scaring each other with ghost stories:

      "I'd also posit that the act of you writing, and me commenting positively on, this "seditious" article is enough to flag both of us on a database within GCHQ...."

      Grow up, you are really not that important.

      It's because of people like the ignorant or apathetic commenters here that the stuff is allowed to continue -- dropping a quick angry post and thinking you've done your bit; well, you haven't. And that's why this shit will continue until you start to do something.

      I'm currently preparing a complaint against the ICO for not responding to my request for an explanation to this <> (see comments for text of my complaint).

      I have, by absolute coincidence, had a reply just this morning from the EU when I requested they put further pressure on the British government re. this same press release.

      I've been politely reminded by the censors people that if I don't fill it in (which I don't wish to due to its involvement with Lockheed Martin, and this <>) then I can face criminal charges.

      And you think you've been 'flagged'? Well you haven't, and I rather doubt I have, and unlike you *I don't fucking care* anyway.

      I can do these things -- and I've done many others too -- in democracy (which this is close to, despite what people protest here) and I will not be spied on, rendered, tortured, beaten up, have the thugs sent round, receive unsubtle death threats etc, but you seem to think that I will? Do you have any idea what life is like other people in other parts of the world? No you don't. It won't cost me very much to stand up and be counted, unlike many people elsewhere who face exactly these threats but do it anyway.

      Suggestion: grow some balls and do something about it. All of you.

      @Mr Campbell, interesting and useful reminder, thank you.

      (posting AC to preserve my id from you sad lot, not the govt).

      1. Anonymous Coward

        ""I'd also posit that the act of you writing, and me commenting positively on, this "seditious" article is enough to flag both of us on a database within GCHQ...."

        Grow up, you are really not that important."

        You do not understand the nature of the beast. The security services made records of all such "seditious" letters sent to the national newspapers back before the Internet; their capacity to record such things has increased dramatically along with their desire to do so. Only a nutter would think they've stopped doing it.

        Like stage magicians, the security services routinely rely on mugs like you thinking that noone would bother with that amount of effort. They would, and they do.

        If you really don't care that you've been flagged for many things you have posted on the Net, that's fine, but don't kid yourself that it hasn't happened.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        Grow up, you are really not that important.

        so why did you post anonymously?


        (posting AC to preserve my id from you sad lot, not the govt).

        weak excuse

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Are you seriously suggesting that, in terms of GCHQ tying a real name to a post on this or any other forum, it makes one iota of difference whether the post is attributed to AC, or the poster's 'real' nick, 'Scarlet_Pimpernel7' ?

    4. paulc

      7 billion hungry people?

      7 billion hungry people... there's a solution for that... plague, war, famine, pestilence... all four horsemen of the apocalypse will be loosed on us and only the elite and their favoured drones will get to survive...

    5. david wilson


      >>"I'd also posit that the act of you writing, and me commenting positively on, this "seditious" article is enough to flag both of us on a database within GCHQ, and we are now considered "domestic extremists" and will be the first to be arrested when the oil runs out and the s**t hits the fan."

      But surely, if even things as minor as posting on this forum gets you on the Big List, when allowing for all the other things of similar meaningfulness that people do, that would mean that a good fraction of the population will probably be 'first to be arrested'?

      Even just practically speaking, how would that actually *work*?

      Though if indeed it is true that whenever you try and warn people you are dismissed as a paranoid wingnut, what would 'they' be scared you'd do once the big police state *had* finally uncloaked and started snatching people en masse - walk around annoying people by saying "I told you so!" after it was too late to do anything?

      Unless your claim to be being ignored now is some kind of subtle attempt at bluffing camouflage, wouldn't your current doubts (that you claim to be having no success in propagating) logically become *less* threatening once it was obvious to everyone else that you'd been right?

      1. Goat Jam

        How It Works

        Everything goes into a enormous data warehouse and is cross referenced to the hilt.

        Of course your futile forum posts will be completely ignored up until the point that you do/say something that triggers one of their alarms.

        Then, they go to their data warehouse and pull out everything that you have ever said/done and use it to crush you.

        THAT is how it works.

        1. david wilson

          @Goat Jam

          >>"THAT is how it works."


          Though how come you know that?

          'They' haven't publicly crushed anyone that way yet.

          If 'they' were going to privately crush someone, they wouldn't need a long history of trivial comments, they could presumably just crush on the basis of the later serious infraction.

          Are we supposed to be living in fear of being crushed, in which case why aren't 'they' more blatant?

          Is it supposed to be secret, in which case why do 'they' let people talk about it.


  9. D. M
    Big Brother

    Already too late

    The current generation, or even the my own generation, has already lost all sense of reason, principle and logic.

    People now believe every aspect of their life should be controlled by gov or some large company.

    1. LaeMing

      Worse than that!

      A good number get noticably uncomfortable any time they don't have the crutch of being told how to behave.

    2. Maty

      Assuming sanity ever returns to the west, our generation will be known as the turkeys who voted for Christmas.

      And to make it worse, the motive has been a mixture of stupidity and cowardice. Don't blame the government for our surveillance society. Blame the people who voted for it, no, who demanded it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    In other news..

    The mayor of New York yesterday - 'Bloomberg: "For 10 years we have not allowed terrorists to intimidate us"'

    Really now. So you do not, in fact, take finger prints of every single woman, man and child entering the free united states, 'just in case'.

    You do not, in fact, monitor all communications in and out of the United States, including those of American citizens, 'just in case'. And so on.

    An even more worrying sight for me is the blatant propaganda that seeps out of TV shows like '24', with its 'if you have nothing to hide, then what's the problem' and their 'My name is Ahmed! You can't even pronounce my name and you think we're friends?' and their every foreign person is a terrorist jig. Meanwhile a whole generation is growing up thinking all of this is 'normal' and that every dark skinned person with a backpack is a threat to mankind.

    This world disgusts me more by the minute. It's good to see some people are not blind. Thank you for the article Duncan.

    1. John Savard


      Yes, America has not allowed terrorists to intimidate it. It still is an ally of Israel.

    2. Reginald Gerard

      They don't need terrorists for that,

      they are doing it to themselves w/o even being aware of it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ANPR - so 25 years ago

    By 2015 all vehicles in Europe will have built in GPS:

    "Brussels, 8 September 2011 - The first measure to ensure that by 2015 your car can dial emergency services for you when you have a serious accident has been adopted by the European Commission today. The Commission wants the life-saving eCall system to be fitted to all new models of cars and light vehicles from 2015. eCall automatically dials Europe's single emergency number 112 in the event of a serious accident and communicates the vehicle's location to the emergency services."

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: eCall

      You missed a bit.

      If the system *only* dials out in the event of a serious accident, and only passes on your current location, then this is a harmless and probably beneficial feature. What you presumably believe but haven't stated is the idea that you will have no control over when it dials out or what it says when it does so.

      You're probably right. "They" always do that. They take something defensible and use it as cover for something indefensible.

      1. Peladon

        Since the system has the capability...

        ... to dial at all, and since it has no long twirly cable behind it running to a phone socket at home, one assumes it is based on cellular phone technology. Therefore is it not likely it's registering with nearby cell towers as it travels? Would this not constitute a level of tracking log even if no accident occurred?

        I freely admit I haven't looked at the relevant technology to see if this is the case. And of course it is my understanding (no doubt flawed, poor and limited) this is also the case for an ordinary cell phone in the vehicle to a greater or lesser degree.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I suppose we can all buy into the "official" line and the "war on terror" or we can choose to scientifically look at the evidence of that day and work out what really happened and how it really happened. I'm not suggesting which one you should do, but I know what side of the coin I'd rather see land face up.

    I love the mask..though i'd have to go a long way to grow that beard..and that op is not something I'm willing to do.... :D

    1. Graham Marsden

      Dear Moderatrix...

      ... please don't let comments this excellent article be swamped by endless Conspiracy Theory arguments which have been debunked time and time again, yet never die.

      Thank you.

      1. Mr Atoz

        @GM, So What Do You Suggest?

        Should the moderator remove these comments?

        There is only one reasonable explanation for the collapse of building 7 and it is not the one published by NIST! Why don't you point us to the debunking of this so called conspiracy theory.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        One thing is interesting...

        Most of the people commenting on the article seem to agree that politicians abuse the situation created by 9/11 to curtail civil liberties. The article even states on the first page that it has been a problem for the proponents of stricter government oversight to further their agenda in the time between the fall of the Berlin wall and the Twin Towers.

        What seems to be a leap of assumption for most is active involvement. People are willing to accept any negative assumption about politicians as long as it is opportunistic (ie. using events to further any agenda imaginable) but as soon a more proactive approach is suggested (ie. these same politicians of whom "evil doings" are expected as a norm would actually go ahead and actively create such a situation) most assume to fall into the realm of "conspiracy theory". The funny thing is that even the TV show so negatively commented on for the opposite reason (looking at you, "24") suggested such a scenario; let alone the facts of the missing WMDs (creating an imaginary scenario to be used as an excuse for invasion) etc, etc. Naivety perhaps?

        1. Chris Miller

          @One thing is interesting...

          "People are willing to accept any negative assumption about politicians", probably true of many people. Certainly the one thing most of us won't accept is any degree of competence in their ability to cover up even the simplest things, such as their abuse of expenses.

          I find it hilarious when people construct swivel-eyed conspiracy theories requiring the absolute silence of tens of thousands of people in disparate and competing organisations and assume that only they can have a handle on reality.

          1. Goat Jam

            What "tens of thousands of people"

            would they be Chris?

            I find it saddening that so many people are willing to swallow the official line on events even when the official assertions are patently absurd, and purely on the basis "well how would they keep that secret?"

            No further evidence is required apparently.

            If that was truly the case however, then the Manhatten Project would never have succeeded but history is not the strong suit of the overly credulous it seems.

            One thing the US has in spades is fanatical patriots. They are the "useful idiots" of our age.

            These people believe that everything that is done on behalf of the Great U.S.A. no matter how heinous, is perfectly justifiable, indeed, *necessary*.

            Ignore the facts all you like, but that won't make them disappear.

      3. Andus McCoatover

        @Dear Moderatrix

        Moderatrix (Sarah Bee) is history. Or hysterical, reading the commentards crap. Or, getting on with her real life. Having spoken to her once briefly by phone, she had a more sharp tongue than her pen. I closed my "device" feeling more chastised than a kid caught 'scrumping apples' from the neighbours garden after that conversation.

        If You're reading this, Sara(h), good luck with the new thingy.

      4. Inachu

        yeah riiiight

        Go read the Bible but not in a religious manner and you will see all the USA war plans stem from the BIBLE.

        Maybe the BIBLE should be marked as TOP SECRET.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I live in Amerka, but am no longer an American - 9/11 is the day my country died, to be replaced by a Zombie Military Police State., that denies its inhabitants (we are no longer citizens) political freedoms, privacy, employment and health care. I will spend tomorrow with the radio and tv off, to avoid listening to George W. Boob and Darth Cheney explaining why they had to f*ck up the entire world. Osama died knowing he had wrecked America, but had lost the Arab world in the Arab Spring.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Osama didn't wreck America. It did that all by itself. Osama worked in a guest house meeting US funded fighters going to blow up schools and hospitals built by the Russians. Now we boast about the schools and hospitals we are building in Afghanistan.

      Years later a friend of his family, in the oil business, invaded Iraq. Seeing the Iraqis risking their lives to go out and vote may have been what inspired the Arab Spring. We don't know how that will turn out. Particularly if the Israelis keep electing flakes. I will tell you EXACTLY how it's all going to end (but only after we've won the War on Drugs!)

  14. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    I remember the IRA attacks of the 1970s

    The word then was "We will not let the terrorists change how we behave or let them destroy our freedoms"

    Now it's "We must give up our freedoms, our liberties, our rights to 'protect' society from terrorists and if you don't agree, you must have something to hide like being on their side!"

    Every time our leaders introduce another measure that restricts our rights and liberties "for our own good" Al Qaeda et al are sitting in their dens laughing their socks off as they watch us doing their job for them.

    Time for Ben Franklin again: "Those who would give up essential liberties for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security".

    1. Tom 7

      And I remember a NorAid

      spokeswoman being interviewed close to ground zero a week after 9/11 by the beeb

      When asked 'Do you regret sponsoring terrorism in the UK for the last 30 years?" her response was "That's different. They're freedom fighters."

      So its a war on terror unless is being paid for by US citizens...

    2. Paul RND*1000

      I grew up in Northern Ireland during the peak of the Troubles, and you're absolutely spot-on. The attitude was generally one of "we won't let fear dictate what we do or how we live, if we do that the terrorists have achieved their goal". Yes, there were traffic checkpoints at times, yes there were bag searches in the larger stores in Belfast sometimes, and yet there was not the same sense of curtailed freedom and Big Brother surveillance that is present in the "free" world today.

      To me, purposely refusing to live in fear is a simple concept, yet when I try to explain it to my American friends, it doesn't seem to sink in. Sadly there seem to be people in the UK who have the same problem understanding. How quickly we slipped from the Blitz/Troubles "screw you, business as usual" attitude to "OMG protect me from the bad people do whatever it takes". WTF??

      Will the zeitgeist change back? Only if the people start to pay attention to what's really going on. That might require the press to grow a pair again and start shining light on the things that are happening. It sure as hell won't happen because of politicians.

      1. BorkedAgain

        Ah yes, the good old days...

        ...when terrorists would phone in a coded warning, and there were collection boxes "for the boys" on New York bars. A packet of polos cost 7p, you could call home for 2p and this was all fields...

        In all seriousness, Northern Ireland during the troubles wasn't much fun and, while I agree that the general attitude of not letting the terrorists win was far better than watching your infant son struggling out of his shoes to get through airport security (Seriously!) even the most liberal and broad-minded of us caught ourselves thinking unworthy thoughts from time to time. Like not picking up hitch-hikers in certain areas, for example... ;)

    3. dogged

      I too remember those times

      Pretty well, since my Grandparents lived in Co. Antrim and visiting them was enough to get me - a six year old boy - stopped and searched on both ends of the ferry.

      It wasn't all roses back then. The capability to spy on everyone and call it security simply didn't exist. Now that it does, the political class (as directed by their masters, the Moneyed Class) will obviously use it to keep the Taxed Class in line.

      Burn it all down.

      I wish I could use the Guy Fawkes icon without posting anonymously.

  15. Morteus

    With great power, comes great responsibility...

    ... to abuse it at every given opportunity.

  16. Flakey

    What do you expect....

    ..when we hand over power to so called "politicians" who have no training to do such a responsible job (except the ability to fiddle expenses and lie through their teeth while smiling),yet these same people make decisions every single day that affect the lives of millions of people.

    We have only ourselves to blame,we are the ones who are so easily swayed every 4-5 years to put a cross on a peice of paper because its easier to have someone else make the decisions than to think for ourselves,we are the ones who have such a low opinion of ourselves that we allow these people to seduce us into believing that they know better,we have given these people the power and to,ultimately,use that power against us while conveniently forgetting that no matter what pretty coloured rosette is being worn, POLITICIANS ARE ALL THE SAME,selfish, greedy, power hungry control freaks.

    George Carlin put it perfectly when he said "what they want is obedient workers, just smart enough to operate the machines and do the paperwork and just dumb enough to passively accept all the sh*t"

    1. Arctic fox

      @Flakey RE "What do you expect"

      There is not much I can disagree with in your posting and indeed I feel no impulse to do so. However, given that the majority of us are pretty uninterested in being involved in politics over and beyond voting every fourth or fifth year is it not possible that we, to some extent, get the politicians we deserve? If we would rather 99% of the time think about almost anything else and are definitely uninterested in getting involved ourselves, do we not also have some responsibility for this state of affairs? Might it not at least be a thought worth our consideration that if the "market" in aspiring politicians were somewhat larger than it is at both local and national level then the time-servers and expenses pisstakers might have a much harder time of it? My only point is really that given that we *do* have elections and we *can* throw the bastards out (whichever political flavour we are talking about) is it not the case that *we the people* have *some* responsibility for the current state of affairs?

      1. BorkedAgain

        Excellent point.

        I look forward to reading about your candidacy at the next election. If you're in my constituency, I may even vote for you (assuming you make sense)

        That said, I think it's generally unlikely that independent candidates will ever be elected in sufficient quantities to make any kind of difference. It's career politicians all the way, and part of being a career politician is learning early on how to be utterly conformist and only controversial within certain very narrow parameters. And the latest techniques for fiddling shitloads of cash out of the system without a word to the tax people, natch.

        The bland leading the blind, in other words. I do like that phrase...

  17. Turtle

    Except. . .

    "that since 9/11 we may all be headed to a time why we don't understand anymore why privacy matters"

    Except the basic point of this article seems pretty weak when you see the hundreds of millions of people using Facebook and caring nothing about their privacy, or the people who use Gmail, Chrome, or other Google products. To those people, privacy does not matter, has never mattered, and will never matter. Are "cloud" users really all that concerned about their privacy? It would seem not. You can not impose privacy on people who do not want or care about it.

    But the article is very tendentious. "What 9/11 has done to take away the idea that we should have the power to control what happens next" is the last sentence but is not supported by anything actually *in* the article. That most people do not care about this surveillance, or share your concerns, or that some people possibly even support these measures, doesn't really mean that they can't be controlled. It simply means that things are not going the way that *you* want them to go.

    1. david 63

      I think you have missed the point... is about choice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        that rather good Adam Curtis series, The Trap made a worryingly convincing case for the idea that gave away our freedoms in the name of 'choice'! Perhaps 9/11 was just the icing on the cake and a very good excuse to consolidate what was already there in outline?

    2. Gordon 10

      Re: except

      The big point you miss and the one the article hits on the head is most people hand over their data through ignorance not a conscious choice.

      We are sleepwalking into this.

  18. Sam Liddicott
    Thumb Down


    The revenge is for the whole nation to scrutinise and report daily on each minute action of the wretched overlords.

    I presume THEY have nothing to hide.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TA Centres

    I used to be in the TA Military Police in the 1980's when the threat was the Soviets. If the Balloon went up, then we where to deploy to West Germany and track the fallout. But before we went, we had another task to complete. We had lists of known lefty union types, agitators and sympathisers that had to be rounded up and imprisoned. The lists where sealed, kept in safes only to be opened in the "event". So that was in the days before computers where prevalent. I'm sure the lists are still there, and will be much larger now. Next time you pass your local TA centre, just notice how big it is, considering the amount of people who use the building. Plenty of room inside to detain and "Process" those that state don't like. They have the guns after all, and now we don't.

    I think the "disconnect" between those with influence/money and the bloke in the street is getting bigger and bigger. Dark days ahead indeed. Many people have noticed how under manned the Police where during the riots, if the populace did rise up, it would be truly terrible for all concerned. But real freedom comes with a price, we where happy to give ours away for nothing.

  20. Steve Evans

    Well said...

    I can't help but notice all the TV news coverage of the anniversary, and how often the politicians say how [insert nation here] refuses to bend, and how the terrorists cannot break [insert nation here].

    Yeah right... I can't even take a 125g jar of marmite on as hand luggage!

    (Yes, I know the limit is 100ml, a volume measurement, and 125g is a measurement of mass, but you try explaining that to security at 6am).

    1. Steve Evans

      Let's see how free we are...

      I'm off into central London with my trusty Nikon and tripod, let's see how much that will make me look like a terrorist today.

      Oh, and I haven't had a shave either - living life on the edge!

      1. Steve Evans


        I didn't get arrested, or even questioned.

        In fact I actually questioned too cops to confirm the location of the fireworks!

        After that I had no interaction, even when I proceeded to climb up over a sea wall, and set the camera up for shots on what can only be described as a health and safety minefield!

        1. Goat Jam

          You should have taken a photo of the cops

          Then you would find out how free you really are.

  21. Wile E. Veteran
    Big Brother

    1984 was 17 years late

    We are all Winston Smith.

  22. emmanuel goldstein

    interesting article

    I wonder if lives have been saved by information gleaned using the methods outlined.

    1. Intractable Potsherd
      Thumb Down

      @emmanuel goldstein

      It doesn't matter - really it doesn't. Without the express permission of the populace, this "gleaning of information" is so disproportionate no amount of lives "saved" is relevant. It is tantamount to declaring war on the citizenship of the country, by treating everyone except the chosen few as being an enemy.

      1. emmanuel goldstein

        carry on spying please

        so it's ok if people are killed, as long as no one reads your emails!!

        from today's news:

  23. david 63


    Good article. We need more reasoned argument and less headline politics.

    Nice one.

    Still can't see how things will turn around in the near term unfortunately.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Jim Booth

    Jim Booth

    ~ The problem is we have become apathetic. We blindly accept new laws without so much of s squeak, we as a society, are as much to blame for not standing up and saying enough if enough.

    "We" speak is group think -imo, there have been many complaints against this all along, many warnings that it's in opposition to the constitution(in USA), or queens bench (Canada), yet at the end of the day corporate media owns the spectrum and tows the establishment agenda and they chronologically and choreographically dull their propaganda cruft out exactly timed for maximum effect. You either have to be rich, or things have to become an emergency before they can get fixed. Guerrilla journalism only occasionally slips through on small matters. On anything big like DHS/ICE/UN/NATO the people don't get a vote. The one's pulling the strings have everything set exactly the way they want it with their foreign and corporate agenda. This is the way they want it to be.

  25. Andus McCoatover

    NOT Yank-bashing

    However, just shut the country down. Most US citizens don't seem to have a clue that there's another world out there

    "Hey, Honey, this new TV says it's made in China - Is that in Illinois or Kansas?"

    Friends of mine from Finland holidayed in US. "Where are you from?" "Finland" "What state is that in?"

    Remember, G.W.Bush never travelled out of US, until he became President, and his first trip was to ...Mexico. Like an Englishman taking a trip to Wales.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > "Where are you from?" -- "Finland" -- "What state is that in?"


    2. Arctic fox

      At least the Finnish accent made them realise..............

      ..............that your friends were from out of town.

    3. jake Silver badge

      @Andus McCoatover

      ""Hey, Honey, this new TV says it's made in China - Is that in Illinois or Kansas?""

      You Brits aren't immune to this kind of thing ... A friend of mine's Wife was absolutely certain that London was south of where they lived, because "my Uncle lives in South Kensington, which is near London" ... Their abode? Croydon ...

      "Friends of mine from Finland holidayed in US. "Where are you from?" "Finland" "What state is that in?""

      Northern California. There are more ethnic Finns here than there are in Finland. How do I know? Because I'm an ethnic Finn; all my ancestors emigrated to Mendocino and Humboldt Counties for the timber trade in the 1840s and '50s.

      And the USA-to-Mexico trip is absolutely nothing at all like a trip from England to Wales. Trust me, I've done both on many occasions. Mexican culture and US culture are completely different (vive la différence!). Wales & England are pretty much homogenous, with a nod to odd corners of each.

      My comments on the Bush's (and their hangers-on) xenophobia I'll leave for the reader to extrapolate. You're quite welcome.

      1. Andus McCoatover

        Thanks, jake

        Appreciated the input. I think there's 3 Oulu's in US IIRC(I live in the Finnish one)

        As to the Welsh, "Twll din pob Sais" I think roughly translates as "arseholes to the English". Should put it on a sign, underneath saying "Welcome to Wales"...

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Andus & AC 8:10 & Vic

          Andus: Howdy Neighbor! We are still in touch with our kin in Haapavesi and points further north ... I've been out that way on numerous occasions.

          AC, I said "Ethnic Finn". I'm Sami, not Swedish or other Euro ;-)

          Vic: Yes, I've been all over the British Isles. The British (as a whole) and the Welsh (as a whole) are a lot closer to each other than Glaswegians and Highlanders ... Or Dalesmen and Scouse, for that matter. Note my "nod to odd corners" qualifier.

          1. Vic


            > Yes, I've been all over the British Isles.


            > The British (as a whole) and the Welsh (as a whole) are a lot closer to each other

            You do know that the Welsh *are* the British, right?

            You seem to have made the usual mistake of confusing "English" with "British". The two are not synonymous.

            > than Glaswegians and Highlanders ... Or Dalesmen and Scouse

            And I would absolutely refute that statement. That you believe it would indicate a remarkable ignorance of the diversity within the British Isles. Not that I blame you for that - you're not a native, after all - but you really ought to think twice before holding forth about someone else's country.

            > Note my "nod to odd corners" qualifier.

            That makes as much sense as saying "Americans are entirely indistinguishable from Aardvarks - with a nod to odd corners". That you note there to be exceptions to your sweeping generality does not excuse the fact that you omitted to mention that those exceptions constitute substantially all of the population.


            1. jake Silver badge

              But Vic, old chap ...

              *YOU* were the one that made the crack about "the valleys", insinuating that the Welsh were somehow not entirely British ... And how would my pointing out differences in culture between a couple of groups in the British Isles make me unaware of the diversity? The fact remains that one can ramble the length & breadth of your country(s)[1], pop into a local pub or tea shop, and know exactly what to expect.

              Methinks your knickers are showing ...

              [1] Ireland included ... Not only have I done John O'Groats to Land's End[2], I've also done Malin to Mizen[3]. On bicycle. And the Pennine Way on foot, both ways.

              [2] In that order ... call me backward ;-)

              [3] Malin to Brow, actually, for you sticklers in the crowd.

              1. Vic

                jake, your ignorance is showing...

                > *YOU* were the one that made the crack about "the valleys"

                Yes. "The Valleys" is how parts of Wales are often designated. As you'd know if you were familiar with Wales.

                > insinuating that the Welsh were somehow not entirely British

                Bollocks did I insinuate that.

                I was responding to your erroneous claim that "Wales & England are pretty much homogenous". This says nothing whatsoever about the British. Are you still unaware of the difference between "British" and "English"?

                > And how would my pointing out differences in culture between a couple

                > of groups in the British Isles make me unaware of the diversity?

                Because you're just spouting nonsense about groups you don't know. There are differences between many regions of the British Isles, but if you really believe that the English and the Welsh are "pretty much homogenous", then you really don't know what you're talking about.

                > The fact remains that one can ramble the length & breadth of your

                > country(s)[1], pop into a local pub or tea shop, and know exactly what to expect.

                Bullshit. You appear to have gotten your familiarity[1] from "Murder, she wrote" or something.

                > Methinks your knickers are showing

                And I think you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

                Now I'm a Jock. My missus is a Taff. And we live on the southern edge of England. Why exactly do you think you know more about the country in which I was born than I do?


                [1] And I use the term quote wrongly

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Vic, you seem to be lost.

                  May I offer you a map?

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Tea Shops....


                "The fact remains that one can ramble the length & breadth of your country(s)[1], pop into a local pub or tea shop, and know exactly what to expect."

                I very much doubt that.

                I defy to you compare a pub in Strabane with one in Llanberis in any meaningful manner that meets what you are claiming here.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  @ AC12:05

                  Please note that I mentioned "odd corners", right from the git-go.

                  The mind absolutely boggles ... Are all y'all TRYING to be xenophobic?

                  Personally, I've never had any issues hanging out anywhere in the British Isles, and I'm a bloody Yank, for Gawd/ess's sake ...

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward


                    it was a token nod to odd corners with no apparent value other than to give you a weasel-words get out of jail free card if anyone took your incorrect claims to task.

                    This is not by any stretch of the imagination xenophobia, it is simply (in my case at least) people point out where you are massively wrong.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Wikipedia says there are ~700,000 people of Finnish descent in the US. I can't say how it's measured but it's at odds with your assertion.

        Sorry for derailing the thread.

      3. Vic


        > Wales & England are pretty much homogenous

        You what?

        You've clearly never been to the valleys, then...


    4. peter_dtm


      and how many Europeans have travelled outside the EUSSR ?

      typical - most Europeans have no idea how BIG the US is. Can you; perchance name all the US states ? and their Captials ?

      Here's an easy one - Statte capital of New York is ?

      Now on a blank outline map of North America draw :

      US/Mexico border

      US/Canada Borders (What; you didn't know there is more than one)?

      Now draw in Idaho; Montana; District Columbia

      Lack of geographical knowledge is not any indication of lack of intellegence

      And there are plenty of Brits who have never ever travelled out of their local area; even if they physiclly go to Lanzaroti or Greece; their heads remain firmly in the UK trash culture

      1. Arctic fox

        I cannot dispute that you have some point here, however.....

        ......I pose another question. Ask an average European to name all of the states that the US consists of and at the same time ask an average American to name all the states in the EU. Which of the two groups would do better in your opinion?

      2. Andus McCoatover

        In honesty, not without Googling...

        But what did it for me was talking to a bloke in a bar in Dallas, who believed Iraq was near Canada. I kid you not.

        Yep. America is big. So is Europe. So is Russia. So is China.

        I guess I've been lucky in my (relatively) uneducated life to have travelled to all of these places.

        "Lack of geographical knowledge is not any indication of lack of intellegence"

        Agree. But, surely it's an indication of a lack of interest, natural curiosity, and of not wanting to leave one's 'comfort zone'. Friend of mine, married to a Finn, lives here in Oulu, north-ish Finland. He told me that he'd never been out of Ohio 'till he came here. I was gobsmacked.

        UK trash culture? Hit the nail on the head there! In Greece last month, seeing Brits eating "sausage, egg and chips", while my Finnish Girlie and I (Brit) were eating octopus, mezze, etc. made us laugh.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Big Country

        Yes the US is a big country (with a nod to various tourist boards...) but I think part of the point is that the lack of external interest is a worrying sign.

        I have driven from Maine to Miami - it took forever, but for the entire journey I experienced zero change in culture. Every stop was in a place that broadly looked the same, the food was the same, the dress was the same (except for the climate change...) and the language was the same.

        Now, try driving for 2000 miles in Europe. That is less distance than it takes to go from London to Split taking in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Croatia. Multiple languages and even cultures although it would be largely Germanic.

        You could, for the same distance go from London to Russia, the Baltic States even Morocco.

        So while it really isnt a sign of a lack of intelligence, it is a sign of how insular most Americans are, even the ones who travel a lot arent exposed to different cultures and mindsets. An American living in Lincoln NE can travel 1500 miles in almost any direction and still be using dollars at a Denny's.

        Sadly, this is not a specific dig against Americans - the British are just as bad. English people will travel to Thailand and spend their time in a Brit pub....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No other event has attracted so much consistently dishonest and lazy reporting.

    Culminating in the atrocity of the BBC, inviting the people who were part of the planning of 9/11 (Rumsfeld, Pearle et al) in, to televised "debates", to talk about the aftermath and why we were right to murder over a million civilians in non-combatant nations.

  27. JaitcH

    At least someone else cares - it needs repeating until people understand ...

    just how intrusive most governments are.

    Britain is just a bit player in this game, no self-respecting country would allow another to build a spy base as the U.S. National Security Agency has at Menwith Hill in the Yorkshire dales with British police hassling anyone, be they in cars or on foot hiking the dales to quell American anxieties.

    I say again, you cannot hike the dales because of Americans.

    France wouldn't do that.

    And the national number plate tracking scheme being installed by the unelected ACPO floes i the face of the furor of the proposed National Database proposed by Labour and a reason for their downfall. Not only does the system use public cameras but also private ones.

    A friend visiting Britain on business reported he stopped at a roadside gas station and it displayed signs advising their cameras were hooked to Hendon.

    The Plod designed system has one big weakness, it depends on criminals not being smart enough to switch number plates. Unlike North America, where number plates are issued only by governments, anyone can have any number on a plate made up in Britain.

    Fortunately, infra-red 'night vision' cameras can be effectively neutered by a handful of LEDs mounted around a plate or on a baseball cap, in the case of facial recognition,.

    What other country imprisons someone for not handing over a password? My fellow employees, when traveling internationally, are required to carry essentially blank hard drives - they are formatted and have DOS but nothing else. Upon arrival in a foreign destination it is necessary to use a cell phone to activate a download which subsequently permits downloads of working files. We are not alone in this, many corporate IT departments are adopting this - not because we live in authoritarian countries but because of supposedly free countries in the West.

    So long as electorates permit their representatives pass laws overriding basic human rights without protest it will continue. In Britain it is worse as the government grants amazing powers to the police who have proved repeatedly they can not be trusted.

    If police, without judicial oversight, are permitted to do this one has to ask why we need politicians.

    1. Intractable Potsherd
      Thumb Up

      Brilliant post, JaitcH!

      See title.

  28. itzman

    So c'mon geeks!

    There have to be a hundred ways to encrypt data that aren't even noticeable, if you really care about privacy, for every snooping technology

    Convoluting a Jpeg with a sparse matrix and a secret message, from some shared secret appeals..

    Remember also, 9/11 was a 'spectacular'..its chief effect was to transform the psyche: I credit Bin Laden with the intelligence and the (CIA?) training to understand black ops completely. In this matter, he has won. His hope that an overreaction would convert people to the fundamental Islamic cause has not been as successful though.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank a terrorists

    Thank a terrorist for your loss of privacy and safety. The world was changed forever and not for good. Those who express apathy toward terrorism are doomed to witness it many more times, unless you are one of the many victims.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      From the point of view of civilians on the ground,

      drone strikes and car bombs look *very* much the same.

      Hearts & Minds? We've heard of them.

    2. Intractable Potsherd
      Thumb Down


      You didn't live through real terrorist campaigns, then. Like others, I remember the attitude to the Irish bombings, which was "Fuck you, you aren't scaring me into anything" (oh, except for the rail companies, that still don't have proper litter bins in stations!).

      No, the blame lies with governments and news corporations, not the terrorists. There were so many other ways of dealing with this, but certain people in certain places (Bush and Blair at the top of the list) decided to use it for their own corrupt, depraved ends. I'm not religious, but sometimes I wish there is a hell for people like them.

  30. Charles Osborne
    Big Brother

    Thinking is hard

    People don't vacation by going to a museum where they have to use their brain. They go to Disneyworld where stuff is poured into the skull by smiling workers. Fox News predigests all you need to know. Faith is so much easier than logic.

    The slippery slope was traversed long ago: The Advertorial blurred the ethical lines and Infotainment erased it.

    The Dark Ages have returned and it is blindingly bright.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Much thought

    Thank you Duncan for an excellent piece. I viewede this item three times

    posted by AC at 12.24. As someone who was an engineer I was very interested. One possible reason did occur. We know the two towers were brought down by the aircraft - the impact and massive fires were easy to see, and the science is understood. WC7 is a different matter. However, it occurs to me that there might be a cause for the collapse. The buildings were designed to withstand an earthquake. Earthquakes are immensely powerful but normally quite deep with relatively slow effect. When the towers fell, millions of tons hit the ground very near to WC7 at close to 90%. If this huge force cracked the foundations of WC7 they coulod have cracked and imploded, possibly with explosive speed given the pressure they were under. That might explain the very rapid and verticle collapse. The fires might not have been able to cause it, and in isolation the building might never have failed in that way, but millions on tons of building collapsing in seconds very close by could have done it. Possibly.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I will not be spied on, rendered, tortured..."

    "I can do these things -- and I've done many others too --in democracy and I will not be spied on, rendered, tortured, beaten up, have the thugs sent round, receive unsubtle death threats etc, but you seem to think that I will?"

    If you're in the UK, you're either a troll or a fool. Maybe both?

    JC de Menezes. Wrong place wrong time wrong face. Executed by the Met. No one held accountable.

    Ian Tomlinson. Wrong place wrong time, attacked and killed by a thug from the Met. The Met lied to try to protect their thug(s), until CCTV (which they initially denied existed?) revealed their lies. No one held accountable.

    Mark Kennedy. Undercover cop, one of many spying (illegally?) on perfectly legitimate peaceful protest organisations. Multiple arrests of innocent people in these organisations were made, and the trials fell apart once Kennedy revealed he'd been acting as an agent provacateur (under the control of a senior officer. From the Met, purely by coincidence). No one held accountable.

    There's plenty more.

    Then along come the riots, and the police (the Met in particular) initial response was pathetic. Maybe their post 9/11 "intelligence gathering" hadn't been working too well?

    Will anyone be held accountable this time?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: "I will not be spied on, rendered, tortured..."

      > If you're in the UK, you're either a troll or a fool. Maybe both?


      I have lived in countries where these things happen and I've seen real fear on my father's face when, as a child that didn't understand, I spouted something back in public which he'd said in private. Not safe to do in that country.

      And I do not know what happen to one other relative when a certain government got its hands on him, because I deliberately chose not to know (I doubt you can understand why. I envy you). However Amnesty International has some details on file.

      Now do you get it, you whinging apathetic ignorant lazy self indulgent cunt?

      Now do you understand why I make the effort, small as it is?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I have lived in countries where these things happen"

        I'm not sure I fully understand what you're saying. Of course I accept that Bad Things happen elsewhere, and the victims and those close to them have my sympathy and support.

        Why is it such a problem to accept that, whether you read much about it in the UK or not, some Bad Things can happen here too? Maybe not to the same extent, but we have been down that road in the past (WM Serious Crime Squad? various bits of the Met?) and courtesy of the likes of ACPO Ltd we appear to be at risk of heading that way again (partly, but not wholly, due to simple incompetence and bad management).

        The people of an allegedly democratic country shouldn't be happy about it, especially as our beloved leaders repeatedly remind us of our moral superiority to other countries e.g. those where "regime change" is considered necessary (even when it's just a figleaf for "we need your oil"). But the people of the UK mostly don't know much about the things that are going on.

        If it's trivially easy for a footballer or a disgraced ex bankster to use "the system" to suppress publication of his extra-marital bedroom activities, how easy is it likely to be for other more important things to be suppressed when it suits the authorities or big money?

        Suppose, for example, someone was to start pointing out loudly and frequently that what goes on in the name of security at airports these days might best be described as "security theatre", because it is irrelevant to true security. How long would it be before someone was encouraged to stop doing that?

        I don't know what your historical context is but here's a historical piece I know about. Take the former East Germany as an example. When I was a kid, there was a nice kid's TV programme called The Sandman (it's still around). There were different versions for east and west. If you (illegally) watched the Western one and talked about it at school, that could lead to Bad Things at home.

        Now, in 2011, there's Al Jazeera freely available on TV in the UK. What do you think happens to people who start seriously quoting the Al Jazeera line when it differs from the Sky/BBC approved line? Step 1, these folk start being of interest to people you don't want to deal with. Let's hope it stops there.

        The point is, Bad Things do happen, and not just elsewhere. Stopping them is tricky anywhere, but deserves some thought.

        Take care. And watch who's watching you.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    APNR and other things...

    If they monitor the movements of my car, then they'll be confused because I tend to go for random drives. There is no science that could ever decipher it.

    If they silently activate the car's embedded microphones connected to the TeleAid system, then they'll hear either BBC World Service or 400 watts of Sirius Hits 1.

    If I ever decide to embark on a life of serious crime (for the record: ¡extremely! unlikely), then I'll use these systems against them.

    1. unitron

      Well then perhaps... could embark on a life of frivolous crime?

  34. James Woods

    I love hearing about banking online. It's the banks that create the problems. Most of the banks I deal with have loads of third party code on them.

    Liveperson, google code, visitor tracking.

    Please tell me, why does any website need to monitor with google or other visitor tracking those that log-in to secure areas?

    You know the people are logging in; what else is there to know and why is it to be made public?

    I've grilled my banks about it and have cancelled accounts with non-banks that insist on having tracking code inside of logged in areas.

    Nobody should wonder why we have such a high rate of identity theft.

    Im not saying google is evil or anything, but shouldn't it be against their tos to have their code inserted into secure logged in banking websites? :) I know they are rather picky about political sites and their ad payments.

  35. Arctic fox

    The two-edged sword.

    Modern data-processing and communications technology enables us to readily and easily process information, interact with each other with a speed and ease that has never existed before regardless of distance and see/witness events that we otherwise would only ever have read about and seen photographs of often days after. As recently as two centuries or so ago it might have been many days or even weeks between an event and our hearing of it, or our receiving a reply to that letter we had sent someone. The sheer speed and scale of all types of modern communication has an effect on the impact that the world has on us and how we react to it and events. The mainland US had never been attacked since King George had his little dispute with George Washington and even the attack on Pearl Harbour in Hawaii was something that one heard about on the radio or read about in the newspapers and had a certain amount of psychological distance from. When those planes were flown into the towers on that awful day the *whole* of America could *see* and *hear* it happen virtually in real-time and the impact on the collective consciousness of the people of the United States was enormous, leading directly to what Bush and Cheney could get away with and the pernicious home security industry that grew up in the wake of 9/11. "Everyone" saw their nation attacked, everyone "felt" the impact as those horrible videos (more horrifying in their gruesome reality than any horror film could be) showed the plane flying into the tower as if it were a special effect from a new "Die Hard" movie. The very technologies which provide us with so much information and interaction both facilitated the post-event psychology in the US and provided both government and "BigCorp" with the tools with with which to spy on and control us. We as a species are still not quite prepared for the impact for good *and* ill that modern communications technologies have and will have on us as individual human beings living in a society that interacts at a *mass* level in ways and at speeds that are unique in human history.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Arctic fox

      Learn what paragraphs are. You might get your point across more legibly.

      Before you get mad at me, I think I agree with you, for the most part ...

      1. Arctic fox

        @jake "I am not remotely mad at you"

        I wrote that somewhat "free-form" and only realised that its structure was somewhat "lacking" after I had sent it in. I only hope that those who read it realise/understand my intention without being to hard on me with regard to my composition!



  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well guys...

    Seems like most of us agree here in this forum that the world changed for the worse since 9/11. And I am happy to see that freedom is still remembered as a great thing by all the technical people here. It is our duty to at least keep our communication channels as free as possible (the Internet above all).

    Seeing all the comments here I get a little hope back into my heart. Maybe, just maybe, the world might not become a huge Big Brother place in the near future. Just maybe....

  37. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    We lost our privacy in the name of security. Since then, Bush used his powers to look for porn. Obama is using them to look for offshore bank accounts.

  38. Chris 228

    We've already seen some benefits

    The U.S. and others have already folied several terrorist plots due to better intelligence but you can't stop all terrorism. We need to live in the real world and it's full of whackos hellbent on killing as many people as they can in the name of some crusade. The use of all technology available to stop these animals is justified IMO. I'm far more concerned about terrorism than some imposition or perceived loss of privacy from intelligence gathering.

    1. Steen Hive


      "We need to live in the real world and it's full of whackos hellbent on killing as many people as they can in the name of some crusade."

      Eh, no it isn't. Diagnosis: you are either a juvenile, or a paranoid dupe. People or organisations, including "bogey men" have specific goals - for example, the United States - pursuant to it's "interests" desires to have military presence in all areas of the globe and will kill - and has killed - millions to achieve that goal. The documented and stated goals of Al Qaeda are to remove American military presence from the Middle East.

      Now evil genius Bin Laden calculated that the way to nobble an overwhelmingly more powerful democratic adversary is to make it implode simply by demolishing a few buildings and getting them to use their own state apparatus against their own population. Job done, I'd say - 360 million headless chickens with a ridiculously powerful military is far more of a threat to me personally than some dupes with rucksacks full of fertiliser and the odd AK-47.

    2. magnetik

      "full of whackos hellbent on killing as many people as they can in the name of some crusade"

      So not like our own crusade of taking and controlling oil by invading a foreign country, and so what if a bunch of locals get killed in the process?

      " I'm far more concerned about terrorism than some imposition or perceived loss of privacy from intelligence gathering"

      Which is exactly how the govt wants you to think. Looks like the propaganda works in your case.

      I think Goering (remember that evil Nazi who founded the Gestapo?) put it quite well:

      " .. the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country"

    3. Jim Carter

      You're kidding right?

      "Those who trade their liberty for a safe and dreamless sleep doesn't deserve the both of them and neither shall he keep".

      Frank Turner.

    4. Ru

      Presumably, you also believe

      that the terrorist attacks on the US are by people who hate and fear your freedom, right?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    You know when I look back there are a lot of similarities after the cold war with the Stargate defeat of the Goa'uld.

    Just when you think everything is fine, the damn Ori turn up to spoil everything.

  40. jake Silver badge

    Silly thing is ...

    My life hasn't changed at all since 9/11[1], despite all the propaganda. I *know* that the chances of any of me or mine getting hurt by so-called "terrorists" are far lower than getting hit by lightning, and probably lower than getting hit by a meteorite. Same for every other person in the US. In fact, I'm more likely to be killed or seriously injured by a semi blowing a tire out on I5 or Hwy101. Or even hitting a greasy patch of Hwy1 when rolling it on coming out of a twisty bit on my motorcycle. Or even, statistically, getting killed in a large PG&E gas line explosion, or from second-hand smoke (I won't talk about how laughable actual smokers worrying about "the terrorists" sounds, at least to my ears ...).

    The fact is that hundreds of billions, maybe even tens of trillions of dollars have been spent "fighting" a force so tiny that they couldn't even take Monaco, much less England, EVEN IF they had unlimited access to the most advanced military gear on the planet, *AND* expert training in its use. Seriously. Think about it.

    Surely all that loot could be spent in better places?

    The Western World has been hoodwinked by a small group of extremists, aided and abetted by the so-called "leaders" of the Western World, and the mass media.

    Why are you allowing yourselves to put up with it?

    [1] Two exceptions: I don't fly commercial anymore, because I'm fed-up with all the useless hold-ups and the federally mandated molestation stations ... and I'm sick and bloody tired of all the sheeple bleating about "the terrorists", who don't actually exist for probably 10 nines of the people doing the bleating.

  41. P. Lee

    re: banks & visitor tracking

    Banks use visitor tracking for the same reason everyone else does - to make sure that their large unwieldy websites don't have problems. For example, if lots of people follow a promotion advert but never reach the "sign up here" page, is there an issue with the links being incorrect? That said, it should be in-house tracking code.

    I've seen banks present iframes for login details... what could possibly go wrong with that?! Yes it looks like the bank's website, but there's an invisible page in front of it for you to enter your passwords into...

    Good article and some good comments.

    You shouldn't let someone else influence whether you do the right thing or not. 3000 dead does not mean you can start a couple of land wars in Asia. Use your detectives, not those trained to kill.

    You do become like that which you fight.

    Apart from the lack of morality which western governments have shown in this affair, it is just too expensive. If I didn't know better, I'd think that it was all just an excuse to funnel public funds to corporate friends... I can see no other reason to spread so much financial ruin with so wildly misdirected military action.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Schmid's detailed recommendations were passed without exception by the full parliament on 5 September 2011"

    That should be 2001

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personal experience

    On a more personal level it has allowed my favourite pass time, photography, to turn me into some sort of pariah. SImply taking out a camera that is not pocket-compact or mobile-phone, means you are a terrorist or paedophile, or both. Spent many happy days, using film cameras years ago, snapping away on our city streets but now I don't bother anywhere as much as in the last 18 months alone I have been pulled over 6 times by various security guards and police, asking what I am doing. Riding a flipping bike!

    I have been doing more coastal and countryside landscape and abstracts. Come the weekend I am now considered so unacceptable to be allowed in public with my DLSR kit that I have to skulk off into in the countryside where I cannot threaten the liberty, freedoms or encourage terrorism by God forbid, taking photographs!

    Am I giving in? Maybe I am but I am getting older now and I simply want to enjoy my hobby without stress and due to the rampant paranoia of those cretins we elect into office I am considered to be worth less than common criminal.

    Congratulations paranoid twats, you've won, are you happy now? 1984 has happened, it happened long ago but it was so slow and insidious we never noticed and we still barely register now. Every day we become more like those poor souls in Orwell's nightmare only the government still allows big buisness to feed us the illusion that we're free to choose the way we live, secretly we're being brainwashed more every day.

  44. Daniel B.

    Bruce Schneier sees the future

    Anyone remember the "Applied Cryptography" book? That one was published long before 9/11. I remember reading it some time around 2002, and ran into the following sentence:

    "Imagine that a big terrorism attack were to happen in New York. How many liberties would be sacrificed after that?" (paraphrasing, can't remember the actual sentence and I don't have the book anymore). Reading this when something like that had happened, and seeing that the author was right about that made me really sad.

    Then again, RIPA's "gimme your crypto keys" clause was passed before 9/11, so maybe the whole event only accelerated the inevitable...

    1. Andrew Garrard

      In case I've dropped off the radar since 2001...

      I remember RIPA still having a reasonable amount of public discussion at least in the technical parts of the media at the time of the 9/11 attacks - it may have passed, but the issue certainly wasn't dead. My third thought (after "I hope it's not as bad as it sounds" and "I think I'd better get out of central London") was "well, that'll stop the debates." While I choose to believe that nobody in a position of authority in any of the western powers would resort to being involved in such an attack, or even be glad that it happened, I've no doubt that there was a tiny silver lining for those who wanted these powers implemented - and I said as much at the time, in the vain hope that saying something might stop a whitewash, so I should stand by it now.

      Frankly my main feeling was relief was that Bush didn't decide to respond with nukes (this was why I wanted to be out of London, not because I was worried about a plane strike). I would have preferred there to be no reaction at all - there's never a way to be sure whether an act like this was performed by a terrorist trying to attack the target country, or a terrorist trying to get the target country to attack somewhere else, and as has been said before any attempt to track the terrorists will impinge on the rights of normal citizens and promote, oddly enough, terror. Not that I want to belittle the losses of anyone involved, some vigilence is obviously sensible, and I appreciate that the security authorities must always feel that if they had more information, they personally could have saved more lives. Sadly, I think human reactions got in the way of a rational response, as we've seen happening in various other cases with a high media profile - there's a lot to be said for enforcing a cooling-off period before major legislation or military decisions.

      The photography thing is similar. Honestly, I think there was a misguided attempt to recruit some help by the police forces that resulted in anyone with a camera being branded as a terrorist, and one campaign on the subject a few years ago has resulted in a repeated public relations nightmare for both the police and for anyone who has photography as a hobby. As has been repeatedly said, there's no way that the guy pointing a big DSLR at a landmark is going to get information that's not already on-line, and any terrorist with sense will have wandered into the fire exits with a camera phone if he really wants to analyse the structural integrity of a building. That said, it's not just terrorism - if you avoid buildings, it's still easy to get a child in the shot and be accused of paedophilia; there's a reason I mostly do landscapes and wildlife. For a profession that relies on photojournalism, the media has something to answer for when it comes to public outcry against photographers.

      Having said all that, I've always thought that Echelon might have picked me up anyway. I've spent bored evenings reading up on nuclear weapons, various venemous creatures, fast-acting poisons, deadly diseases, high explosives and rocket delivery systems. Of course, I've *also* read up on historical boxers, programming languages, CVTs, differentials, optics, electronics standards and a host of other things, because I'm curious - but I've still thought "hmm, that's an interesting browsing history, hello spooks" on occasion. Hopefully anyone watching me is fully aware that, while I may be technically capable of killing people (I remain dubious that the 9/11 terrorists were any more competent than they needed to be), I have absolutely no motivation to do so. I suspect there are a lot of people like me out there, probably more than can ever be picked up on properly by monitoring - although I wouldn't be surprised to get a visit if I started ordering old supplies of fertiliser.

      It's a not-so-brave new world.

      (Remember when railway stations had a reasonable number of dustbins?)

  45. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. EyeCU

      If you're going to be like that

      Its good to see our supposed allies spit in our faces daily with friendly fire incidents by American troops going uninvestigated and when they are investigated a refusal to send the soldiers involved over here to face a tribunal, no apologies for all the funding you happily gave the IRA, the insistence that all our financial transaction be allowed to be monitored by your government but we can't monitor yours, a judicial system that thinks American laws apply worldwide, a one-way extradition treaty and a sympathetic ear to the president of Argentina over the Falklands even though those living there have stated they wish to remain British.

      May I remind you that the nation to suffer the 2nd largest number of casualties in 9/11 was Britain. Nowhere near the number of Americans and I am not trying to diminish in any way the memory of the losses but this article was about the freedoms we have lost since the attack which have been mostly driven by American paranoia.

      Frankly we would be happy if you just walled yourselves in and the rest of the world never had to hear from you again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Garbage, what your country seems to be good at.

      I'm sorry you feel that way. But I think you have got the wrong end of the stick.

      Discussing the effect that 9/11 had on privacy, surveillance and civil liberties does not equal spitting in the face of anyone or anything.

      Everyone acknowledges that 9/11 was a huge tragedy - we touch on the human dimensions here:

      As for supposed allies: 550 British soldiers dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds more maimed. The cost of the wars to UK taxpayers - more than £20bn. And let's not forget the 67 Brits killed in 9/11.

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "take away the idea that we should have the power to control what happens next"

    As a firm believer in the idea that humans ought to be the masters of their technology and thus we must never allow it to control us, not even by other humans (like faceless people in government agencies), not as an excuse and especially not as a proxy, this probably explains why I find most of the "anti-terror measures", and a great many naive technopolicy things, so highly offensive.

    It's also a good source of neverending irony, as the governments doing the most suppressing are all signatories to that figment of human imagination, the "universal declaration of human rights", and the self-styled biggest advocates of freedoms and liberties (and democracy, or was it republicanism?) turned themselves into the biggest and most blatantly backhanded violators of all those fancy shmancy rights. It couldn't be much more absurd than that they deliberately tried and ticked as many boxes on that declaration turned into a list of things to violate today.

    I could go on and argue that the politicians showed us they have no integrity (we already knew), or that the governments lied to us and so lost legitimacy (who hasn't figured that one out yet?), and that perhaps we "westerners" need us some Arabs come next spring. But, well, all we do is commentard all atwitter. It's the new panem et circences.

    Picture of the day: POTUS speeching from behind thick layers of glass. It's apt on so many levels.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are some very disturbed people in this world

    Denial doesn't change reality. Until you can point out all the terrorists in the world, technology is the best option we have to try and deter their attacks. If you've got a better idea, I'm sure governments around the globe would like to hear it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Will you wear a straitjacket all day?

      Just to give those of us who are disturbed enough to really belong in an asylum the good example, show 'em how it's done, eh?

      No? Then why is it ok when it involves "technology"?

      There might even be more people in mental institutions than there's genuine "terrorists" around. Certainly more than there's been "terrorists", fake or genuine, caught by all those anti-terrorism measures and found guilty as charged.

      Of course it's not easy to "balance privacy and security" and all that... except that it's completely the wrong angle. Without privacy no security, so if you're not putting that first, you're doing it wrong from the start. As for denial, well, some of them have not merely done that but gone and fabricated evidence to start wars. They're *not* trying to strengthen our societies against assault, they're going out and assailing others, with outright lies as their "reason". And critiquing this means we're "in denial"? I don't think so.

    2. Gavin King

      There is always another way.

      Even if it is unpalatable to some.

      The best deterrent to any sort of attack --- barring the last-stand, of course --- is the realization that it will be ineffective. Even the hide-bound English general staff in the Great War eventually learnt that, from the trenches.

      By not allowing oneself to become afraid, all of a sudden there is no terror. Without terror, there cannot, by simple definition, be terrorists.

      That is not to say that it is not a good idea to keep an eye on the "very disturbed people", as you so aptly call them. Far from it --- and technology provides a superb set of tools to do so. But a far better way is to not have disturbed people to start with. Oh, there will always be the odd lunatic about, but they are not hard to spot. Far more dangerous are the embittered individuals, those who have been wronged, or who's ancestors/predecessors have been wronged, and who seem to be content, or who have the smarts to hide their feelings. These are the ones who will cause the problems. And if they are smart, they will not be traceable, technology or not. It is still possible to communicate with nothing more advanced than a pencil and paper.

      But still the greatest defence is to not become afraid. Of course it is possible that one will die, (or perhaps worse be injured or maimed) as a result of terrorism. But one is still more likely to be killed stepping in front of a bus, or by any of a myriad of other ways that are purely chance. That doesn't mean that I am afraid of walking down the street (although at times I think I ought to be: there are some nutters on our roads here) --- I get out and live. Only a certain amount of time to do that in, you know.

      In short, by far the best way to deter terrorist attacks is to render them ineffective by their sheer lack of terror, and to remove the reasons for them.

      I don't pretend to know the best ways to do this, but I do fear that what is being done now is not as good as it should be. As someone in the list above said, what has happened to the (and I do hate to say it for fear of sounding like Col. Blimp, but) old attitude of "Carry On"? Why should the world stop because there is a risk --- and a very real, if not gargantuan risk --- of misfortune occurring? And this I fear is an ingrained problem in the world of today: we daren't take a risk, lest an accident occur. It used to be said that there was such thing as a "happy accident"; at present, any deviation from the desired path (through life, of events, etc.) seems to be treated as a Bad Thing. Which is sad. Where would the world be if it weren't for risks being taken. I remember reading somewhere (and I forget where now) that if the New World was discovered today that the tomato ( being a relative of deadly nightshade) and the potato (having toxic leaves) would not be permitted for consumption. "We cannot allow this risk to the general public", or words to that effect. And yet (the last of these at least) has helped civilization to flourish as much if not more than it has in all of recorded history. All for the fear that something might go awry. This is sad, in a very large-scale way. And this has led to terrible, and somewhat poorly thought out, things happening. I have no doubt that the vast majority of those responsible do really believe that it is for the best. But is it not said that "The road to ruination is paved with good intentions"? Just because it is well meaning does not mean that it will not end in disaster. And this can be summed up in another axiom (for good measure): "Do not blame on stupidity what can be blamed on stupidity".

      And I do apologize if I have mis-read the meaning of your comment. This is however, my considered (and in hindsight lengthy) opinion on the matter at hand, as I read it. And at the moment I am half way through writing a dissertation and so am both a) looking to procrastinate as much as possible, and b) in a rather verbose state of mind.


  49. Harvey Trowell

    It may, irreversibility, have changed the way we think.

    Nice work, mister sub-ed. Way to draw the reader into a great article.

    1. david wilson

      >>"It may, irreversibility, have changed the way we think"

      Well, I suppose it's at least less of a cliche than the all-too-common:

      "An event that changed history... .../forever/!"

      or its sister phrase with 'world' replacing 'history'.

  50. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Worst thing about telecom immunity..

    Note, I was not at all surprised when Obama didn't do most of what he promised, when I saw he talked about reducing surveillance but had voted for telecom immunity.

    The worst thing about the telecom immunity for warrantless wiretapping was, the telcos didn't ALL go for it. I'm not a fan of Qwest, but the CEO of Qwest in fact did get legal advice that this was illegal and told the NSA to piss off until they got some warrants. Within days, the feds bailed out of several contracts they were just starting up with Qwest. In 2005 the (by then ex-)CEO of Qwest was charged with really trumped up stock-related charges, based on the theory that he should have known as early as 1999 that the contracts they pulled in 2001-2002 were going to be pulled (and not disclosing this inflated stock prices). He got put away in 2007 and is in jail until 2013.

    So not only were the companies that DID break the law not penalized as they should have been, the one company that followed the law was penalized considerably.

  51. Gusty O'Windflap


    has put a downer on my monday morning. Is it really all doom and gloom for us?

  52. james 68


    im still waiting for someone in power to ask the question - why arent all the highlevel americans (including white house politicians) who supported, often openly, the IRA being shipped to gitmo? people who had limited associations with organisations classed as 'fringe' are being targeted by 3 letter organisations so why not those in power who support(ed) actual terrorism?

    of course the answer is that it benefited the US gov at the time by destabilising the UK (thanks both bush bastards, bang up job ya did there, hope you both burn in hell tormented by all those who died) but how is anyone supposed to take anything the amercians say seriously when such hypocrisy is so plainly open to view?

  53. Fred Mbogo
    Big Brother


    So you would trade most of your liberty for a little temporary/imaginary security?

    BZZZZT! Wrong, you deserve neither and shall lose both.

    Once you start spying on your own and abusing them, you have become what you fear.

  54. trafalgar

    The aims were to drag the US into a war, an expensive war with to stretch and bankrupt the country.

    The US was targeted for reasons including support of Israel against the Palestinians and US support of Arabian dictators.

    The attacks on the UK on 7/7 happened because of UK involvement in the war on Iraq, and Ken Clarke foretold in Parliament of attacks on European cities if we were to goto war in Iraq.


    I don't fear terrorists.

    Some random facts...

    Terrorists kill roughly 6 people per year in the UK, the same number of people who die falling out of trees (but we don't spend billions putting crashmats under trees, 'just in case').

    The poisonous effects of smoking have killed around 1,000,000 people in the UK in the decade since 9/11 (but no tobacco executive has been jailed).

    And Harold Shipman is thought to have killed over 200 people (but there's no war on doctors, yet).

    I do fear my Government. Sean Hoare, David Kelly, Paul Vigay, Ian Thomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes, Gareth Williams, to put names to just a few of the reasons.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whos responsibility is it?

    Who is responsible for going aftre law enforcement or other agencies when they violate the laws, or the constitutional rights?

    And why have they not been doing that?

    Is it the attorney generals? Who is responsible to go after them, when they fail to perform their duty?

    Why have no independent law firms taken legal action against them?

  57. Brian Miller

    Bad link in article

    Proper link to John Ashcroft's testimony:

  58. Mectron

    Typo in the tittle

    9/11 the day islam attacked the world

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      BZZZZT - Wrong

      9/11 the day christian fundamentalists attacked their own.

      (I'm looking at you here Bush)

      The only difference between the Christian Fundamentalist (Bush) and the Islamic Fundamentalist (Bin Ladenis that the Christian Fundamentalist managed to get elected in charge of the most powerful army on earth.

  59. Spike_Spiegel

    A nit to pick ...

    Duncan -

    I appreciate the analysis in your article, and concur with many of the implications, however, I think it is naive at best to use the phrase "common criminality" to describe the actions of the 9/11 terrorists.

    Although they may not have been state-sponsored (a debatable assertion), these events - and those that followed in other nations - were most assuredly not the acts of "common criminals". Nor should they (had they survived) have been dealt with in the criminal courts. The sober acknowledgement that they were correctly characterized as acts of war does not invalidate nor weaken the cautionary tale you share.

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