June 26th, 2006

Terrorist

What part of "No Law" don't you people understand?

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.



I would like to contrast this with the Attorney General. He said the First Amendment right of a free press should not be absolute when it comes to national security. Which brings me to my subject line. What part of now law abridging the freedom of the press don't you understand?

Before I sound unconcerned about national security, and risk having myself branded as a "Liberal Moonbat", let me be clear. The primary purpose of the Government is to secure the Freedom of the people, and a people that are not secure are not free. To do this, the Government needs to keep secrets. I don't like it, but I understand the practicality of it. Now, shold a reporter come into posession of a Government secret, what should this reporter do? Print it. Reporters are private citizens; it is not the job of private citizens not in the Government's employ to keep the Government's secrets, nor should it be. Let me explain this with a small thought experiment.

Someone, deep in the bowels of the Government, has a secret. This individual reveals this secret to other individuals, including a reporter. The reporter, deciding to be "responsible", keeps quiet. Fine for the reporter- but who else has this leak been talking to? We don't know. This secret could pertain to some super-secret plan, like say, "D-Day" during WWII. Our leaker has told persons unknown about this daring plan- and any one of those people could repeat it; an astute enemy has no problem trapping this information. Suddenly, our D-Day plans are foiled, and we are unaware of the source. What we are looking at is a security vulnerability with unknown scope- maybe an enemy knows, perhaps they don't. The problem is we don't know who knows.

Let us switch this around. The reporter goes running to press with this exciting secret plan. Now everybody and their cousin knows about the plan. The plan is completely foiled- but we know that it is foiled. Instead of committing forces to an action of unknown risk, there are clear, known risks. It is safer for that reporter to reveal that secret because it establishes a clear failure of the plan.

Most people don't look at it that way, and blame the reporter for excaberating the leak- when in reality, they've uncovered the leak and defused a potentially dangerous situation.

Now, in the case specific to that article, we're talking about monitoring bank accounts for international transactions that could be traced to terrorism. In this case- absolutely nothing has happened. For starters, any bank transaction leaves a record, and that is exactly what a terrorist cell does not want. Already, they are going to shy away from those methods of finance, or will use them very sparingly. Now, they may avoid them even more aggresively- but, ironically, we're still going to need to monitor them. We know that they know that we monitor bank accounts. Since they know, they won't use them, so we don't need to monitor them. But then they know that we're not monitoring them, so they can use them, but we know that, so we should monitor them!

In other words, they will continue to use them is as limited an extent they did in the past. They will cover their tracks as carefully as they can. They need to use these methods of financial transaction for practical reasons- that hasn't changed. The whole situation is static.

The privacy concerns on the other hand...