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Causing Terror On the Cheap

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the quiet-shoes-and-a-creepy-mask dept.

Security 448

jhigh writes "Bruce Schneier posts on his blog today about the value of terror with respect to cost-benefit for the terrorists. If you look at terror attacks in terms of what they cost the terrorists to implement, compared with what they cost the economy of the nation that was hit, the reward for terrorists is astronomical. Add in the insane costs of the security measures implemented afterward, particularly in America, and it's easy to see why the terrorists do what they do. Even when they're unsuccessful, they cost us billions in security countermeasures."

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Well, Duh! (4, Insightful)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377324)

Let's face it, I don't know if the Terrorists have "won", but we have surely lost. Terrorists have changed our lives, robbed us of many of our guaranteed rights and freedoms (in the US this has occurred with the aid of our government), and we are paying for it every day (and not just with dollars).

Re:Well, Duh! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377434)

They wouldn't have won if the cowards who think all these trampling of our rights were "necessary" to be safe. Also, it wouldn't happen folks would get it through their think skulls that it's impossible to be safe, the Government will only make it look like they're keeping us safe; and in the meantime, folks are still playing dice with their lives while they tool down the highway yakking on their cell phones without any concern for their lives.

People are stupid.

Re:Well, Duh! (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377724)

Its even worse than that - the US Government isn't just suspending the rights of its own citizens, it affects EVERYONE who has to interact with them. I did not vote upon Canadian Representatives based on their policies of airport security because it wasn't an issue when the elections were held. Now that the issue has arisen and body Scanners are in Canadian Airports... wait who approved that? My Government? My government bowed to your government. And a dozen other countries along with it. I merely want to visit an American city for my vacation - I have high hopes though as I haven't heard any fondling stories taking place Canada (yet) because I don't believe our airport security HAS to take orders from the TSA and I don't think we've employed the "enhanced pat-down technique". This means I'm allowed to Opt out and get a regular pat down -
but I don't know if thats the case in the UK - I believe the law there recently (might have changed) was that you might get selected for Body scanning (possibly at random) and if you are selected, you have two options: Take the scan or not fly. That is their only opt-out.

Really now - the worst part is - this is the case even if I don't plan to stay in the States. If I want to go to Mexico there will no doubt be a stopover somewhere Stateside. It doesn't seem fair that their airport security policy applies to me even if I'm only there for an hour inside the same airplane. Really, there should be another method to handle those flights if they are really concerned (segregrated runway, new terminal, etc).

Please - I know US Citizens don't have a whole lot of power when it comes to running your country, and that most of the time it's run by powers far beyond your control - but if there's ANYTHING I could ask from you guys, it's to create enough of an outcry over issues such as this that BOTH parties take a negative stance to it - like how it was important for the US to have a "Pull out of Iraq" plan for the last election even if not completely implemented or immediately soon, it pushed some steps in the right direction.

Re:Well, Duh! (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378028)

because I don't believe our airport security HAS to take orders from the TSA

As I understand it, Canada has to get the nudie scanners in order to continue to pre-screen people for the US. (Which is part of our free-trade in their direction policy).

The minister has already come out against the groping, but at the same time they're adding "privacy screens", so I wouldn't be surprised if they're just waiting to block the incriminating videos once they start.

That's one thing you have to admire about the American Government these days - they're not afraid to do their violating right out in the open. Not shy at all...could almost call them exhibitionists.

Re:Well, Duh! (5, Interesting)

Garridan (597129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377482)

We've been pretty good about the whole "don't negotiate with terrorists" ideal. However, we should do one better, and "don't acknowledge terrorists". We flinch and whimper and crawl into a fetal position at the loss of a handful of lives, or, in the case of the 2009 christmas attempt, a few hairs on some idiot's scrotum.

Re:Well, Duh! (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377694)

The terrorists are a control freak's wet dream come true.

It cost them $4200 plus many killed or captured (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377792)

It cost the terrorists way more than $4200 to pull this off. Many of them died trying to pull off attacks like this. Same with the 9/11 attacks. Many of them paid for the attacks with their lives, either killed or captured.

On the other hand, at least some of the trillions we've spent are an inevitable part of defending ourselves in a world where there are always people trying to enslave you.

Re:It cost them $4200 plus many killed or captured (2, Insightful)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377898)

Except we are the ones doing the enslaving, assuming that their governments don't just roll over so that your corporate bosses can take advantage of them. the rest of your blather is nothing more than the usual cowardice espoused by people who do not deserve any sort of freedom in any case.

Re:It cost them $4200 plus many killed or captured (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377974)

While I mostly agree, freedom is not something one "deserves"t. It's a basic human right. Everyone "deserves" it simply because they are human, cowards or not.

Re:It cost them $4200 plus many killed or captured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34378052)

the rest of your blather is nothing more than something I don't know how to refute so here's some generic nonsense and an ad hominem attack that will serve as a weak attempt to disguise the fact that I am shrieking at the top of my lungs an unconditional confession to being unable to participate meaningfully in this discussion.

And yes, that IS the only possible meaning of what you said. You cannot disagree with that, you can only lie and pretend to.

Re:It cost them $4200 plus many killed or captured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377952)

while it has cost them "lives", currently the economics of that resource for them continue to be plentiful.

As far as the enslaving part, those wanting to enslave us are NOT the terrorists, but many of those wanting to "defend" us.

George Orwell penned it about right on how IngSoc came to be. Double-plus good!!!

Re:It cost them $4200 plus many killed or captured (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377988)

No mod points, so I'll concur and expand instead.

The $4,200 figure is misleading because it doesn't count the failed attacks. It's still nowhere near the amount the US has spent trying to stop them, not by several orders of magnitude, but it makes it clearer that each attack represents risk in more than one way.

An attack that is attempted but fails costs more than money. It exposes them to the chance of capture, and each captured person might turn over information that thwarts other attacks. Good security and isolation reduce that, but they also raise your costs and slow you down.

I'm not defending action at all costs. We have an irritating habit of spending a lot of money and introducing great inconvenience to thwart an attack they're unlikely to try again. Oddly, al Qaeda makes the same mistake: they keep trying to blow up airplanes, when there are many other targets of opportunity. Maybe it's because they figure the costs are exponential: each new measure costs 10x as much, so they get more ROI by going after the same target.

I think there are better ways for the US to allocate its money, and more importantly, its tolerance. They do seem successful at causing us to make great expenditures at small cost. But the costs are not as trivial as the misleading figure suggests.

Re:Well, Duh! (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377862)

When Binladen attacked us on 9/11/2001, his only specific demand was that the US remove troops from Saudi Arabia. Which Bush/Cheney immediately did. If that's not "negotiating with terrorists", its simply "surrendering to terrorists".

Re:Well, Duh! (4, Insightful)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377992)

Exactly this.

Folks, they're terrorists. The point is terror. The more you worry about them, the more they've won.

And people who make a big deal about them and about fighting them are doing exactly what the terrorists want, what the terrorists need. To be effective, terrorists need your support, in the form of your active fear. Quit giving it to them. Try this instead: focus on how many deaths we suffer from car accidents each year, or even just eating badly. Put things into perspective.

Re:Well, Duh! (1)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377494)

Agreed... when they say the terrorists have "won" it's because they've used fear to disrupt our economy, our way of life, and (as evidenced by the TSA) reduced our liberties. Well done, knee jerk reaction idiots...

With the underwear bomber last year, I'm surprised we're even allowed to wear clothing at all.

Re:Well, Duh! (2, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377622)

But that was a *bona-fide* act of terrorism thanks to the limp wristed liberal government! Surely we need more protectors to save us from exploding undies. To say otherwise would be unpatriotic!

I learned of all this by watching Fox news; didn't you?

Re:Well, Duh! (5, Insightful)

Drew_9999 (750818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377500)

Terrorists have... robbed us of many of our guaranteed rights and freedoms

No, they didn't. We gave them up.

Re:Well, Duh! (1)

umeboshi (196301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377578)

Speak for yourself. I have only just begun to secure my liberty.

Re:Well, Duh! (2, Insightful)

MichaelKristopeit203 (1943992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377914)

i never gave anything up.

who is "we"?

you are NOTHING

Re:Well, Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377990)

Sorry, no. I didn't vote for either of the two major parties. My rights and choices are however meaningless because of the two party system (for all intents and purposes) in the USA.

What's the bigger problem? (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378044)

No, they didn't. We gave them up.

No, the people calling themselves "The US Government" are abridging our natural rights, often in ways that enrich their friends.

Who's really doing the most damage here?

Terrorists have won (2, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377534)

Specifically for those terrorists in the set of ( Authoritarian Politicians, Kleptocrats, Corporatists).

For these soulless creatures, they've profited and gained beyond measure.

Sand Niggers and Explosives are Cheap (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377712)

It only costs $20 worth of C-4 and $10 of sand niggers to blow up 2 - 3 white people.

Since the total cost of the explosives and sand niggers are about $30 and white people are worth at least $350,000 each, terrorism is a cost effective way of causing problems.

Of course, sometimes sand niggers blow up other dune coons. Talk about a win-win situation.

Attitudes have changed over the years (4, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377746)

I grew up in the UK. In the 70s and 80s there were bombs going off regularly in the UK because of the situation in Northern Ireland but the response seemed to be less significant than the response to the present 'terror'. People seemed to get on with life more back then and seemed to be more pragmatic in their responses.

Anybody know why it seems like we've responded with a much greater response this time round? Because these guys are suicide bombers? People worry more? Or did we respond at about the same level last time round?

I was in London when the truck bomb blew up large parts of Canary Wharf, the people I knew who worked in the area seemed to be more concerned about checking if they should go to work the next day, if the office was still there, more than anything else.

Re:Well, Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377826)

Terrorists have changed our lives, robbed us of many of our guaranteed rights and freedoms

No, I'm pretty sure it was government that did that.

But now that we're going to have skin cancer machines in most national airports, I suppose an argument could be made that they are one and the same.

Re:Well, Duh! (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377882)

Terrorists robbed you of nothing. People looking for an excuse to put the populace under their thumb took your rights away. They just convinced people it was the only way to be safe.

In the last 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377942)

In the last 10 years:

1. How many Americans have died in terrorist attacks?

2. How many have died in auto accidents?

3. Where should we be putting our money?

Re:Well, Duh! (1)

Achra (846023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378008)

The truth of the matter is that the terrorists represent nothing but a convenient implacable enemy, by which tyrants can seize greater control of the populace.

Re:Well, Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34378040)

Don't lose sleep over no bloody terrorists. They'll stop laughing when Inspector Frank Drebbin sorts them out.

follow the money (4, Insightful)

bugi (8479) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377374)

So who benefits financially?

Re:follow the money (2, Insightful)

Nos. (179609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377474)

Those who build, sell, and service security products.

Re:follow the money (2, Funny)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377938)

Don't forget Bruce Schneier.

Re:follow the money (1)

Aldanga (1757414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377966)

People like Michael Chertoff [] .

Re:follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34378036)

It's tough to figure out all the people who benefit from defense spending. It's more than the "military-industrial complex". That money trickles down. And give the devil his due: terrorists have given employment to a lot of people who might otherwise have trouble finding it. For instance guards.

Re:follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377528)

The security providers. Wouldn't it be ironic if it turned out they were funneling money as kickbacks to terrorist organizations? There's a good Ludlum-esqe storyline in here somewhere...

Re:follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377854)

They don't even have to give terrorists the money really, just keep the news channels playing the same ol tune. Why bother dealing with the unwashed masses when you can just pretend you do?

Re:follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377540)

Halliburton and Black Water were major beneficiaries.

Re:follow the money (3, Funny)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377706)

Clearly, it's George Soros! My bedroom is full of puppets and chalk boards that show evidence of this. Unfortunately, the world is full of idiots who can't see the logic behind it all.

Re:follow the money (0, Troll)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377972)

Clearly, it's George Soros! My bedroom is full of puppets and chalk boards that show evidence of this. Unfortunately, the world is full of idiots who can't see the logic behind it all.
I see you got a funny mod, but you instead you should have gotten an insightful, since George Soros makes his money speculating on currency, and nothing makes currencies move like some good ol' terror.

Re:follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377774)

The purpose of terror.

The definition of something as practical depends on what one wishes to practice.

Re:follow the money (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377908)

Following the money shows us who is willing to give away the true value for trinkets. The money is not what terrorists want. The terrorists want something beyond value, to wit our ideals and morals. They want to make us less free. Sadly, because so many people are willing to give away those priceless things in exchange for money, and so many others support their efforts as long as those people throw the word "safety" in the mix from time to time, we have what we have today. The terrorists did not take what is truly of value. Our own wealthy, powerful, power and money hungry citizens are trading it for trinkets, with the full support of the ignorant masses.

This is news? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377392)

These ideas have been floated around for quite awhile. Many folks here in these forums have said as much. Mr Schneier himself has addressed the same issue before. At what point does this move out of the "relevation" category?

Re:This is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377562)

At what point does this move out of the "relevation" category?

When it moves out of niche blogs and news sites and into the pages of newspapers like the NY Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and LA Times.

Re:This is news? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378038)

When more than 5% of the population understands that you can't effectively stop terrorism by spending money. Any screening procedure is going to catch order of magnitude more false positives than true positives and is still going to cost orders of magnitude more than getting around it will. Not to mention: what the hell is the point of spending millions of dollars to prevent someone bringing a knife onto a plane, and then giving any passenger who orders steak a 6" steak knife?

Not a waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377396)

It's not a waste of money if you're in the business of government. For you and me, of course, we lose big time. But for those who make their fortunes in the business of government, terrorism is a jackpot of infinite justification for more power and revenue. When your revenue is taken by force, not persuasion, it hardly matters where the money ends up or whether you "succeed" or "fail". What matters is that the money passes through your hands, giving you a chance to exploit that cash flow for personal gain.

Goals (2, Interesting)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377418)

Certainly, I think the premise is true. It's why terrorism continues to be a tool, and why it's so hard to get rid of.

What's never been clear to me is how the economic impact to the target country helps towards the stated goals of the terrorists. Does Al Queda believe that if they depress our economy consistently enough, we will no longer be able to financially support Israel? History proves that not to be true.

Re:Goals (5, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377522)

The goal or Al Queda, is and always was to transform the Islamic world along their fundamentalist ideals. Their best idea of how to do that is convince Muslims they are under attack from a powerful outside enemy, and that Al Queda is leading the resistance. The US has played it's part in this game, from their point of view, perfectly.

Stupid, stupid, stupid US policy to take this bait.

Re:Goals (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377524)

Do you think they care? Maybe a few do, but the people sticking their necks out to get cut off are venomously religious and truly believe that the US and the west in general have wronged them and their god and the only way to escape the tyranny of their rule is to fight back with holy jihads by killing or blowing things up, etc..

The religion is totally messed up in its modern belief systems, but that can be said for so many other faith based groups over the life of religion on Earth. The point I want to make is that the west can look at the problem pragmatically and coin terms like "a little terror goes a long way" but the people who are committing these attacks probably don't care about economics as much as the price paid in blood, or maybe the fame, but I'm somewhat skeptical of that motive.

Re:Goals (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377538)

"Does Al Queda believe that if they depress our economy consistently enough, we will no longer be able to financially support Israel? "

The US seems to believe that leveling mud brick houses with million dollar missiles will accomplish world piece.

Re:Goals (2, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377732)

It's guerrilla tactics. You attack your target, wear it down, stretch it thinner and thinner. The point isn't to hurt the US's economy until we can no longer afford to support Israel. The point is to weaken our faith in our system and government. The US government can handle external pressure. But when it also has to deal with internal pressure at the same time, its ability to do both is severely limited. And this happens with any government, not just our own.

A perfect example would be the classic game Jenga. Think of each individual terrorist attack as removing one block(either the attack itself or the government reaction to the attack can remove the block). Eventually, the terrorists don't have to do anything. So much of the tower has been removed that it collapses under its own weight due to the lack of support.

Re:Goals (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377840)

Their aim is to produce chaos in the hope that they can then sweep in with their own brand of authoritarian lunacy and have people flock to them as their only hope for peace. Economic collapse can make people grab onto any crazy thing that seems moderately organized and "safe". At the risk of invoking Goodwin's law, see Germany circa 1930's and remember that Hitler was originally elected.

Wrong end of the Cold War (3, Insightful)

spacefiddle (620205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377422)

I seem to recall a number of economists and poli sci students in the early 90s smugly telling me all about a component of the Soviet Union's cold war "loss" and economic collapse: the US making them think they had to spend more and more in the arms race with us (zomg, USA can destroy the world 10 times over, we can only do it 5 times, build more nukes comrade!). A pretty shaky social contract, to begin with, finally got kicked in the nuts one too many times. C/D?

Re:Wrong end of the Cold War (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377584)

The Cold War is a good example; the US spent a relatively small amount arming the terrorists in Afghanistan, forcing the USSR to spend a lot more to maintain their occupation. Similarly, the Star Wars project (in spite of being a complete failure as a real weapons system) forced the USSR to spend huge amounts on launch capability to be able to be sure of getting missiles past the (nonexistent) shield.

Wars have been won and lost because of economics for a long time though. Napoleon understood this when he said that an army marches on its stomach - the supply chain can lose a war just as easily as enemy action.

One of the examples that's now used when teaching this stuff is a brief engagement from the last Golf War, when an Apache helicopter popped up over a hill, sighted a convoy, and destroyed it. The convoy was made of trucks worth, maybe, $20K each. The missiles that the Apache fired cost upwards of $100K each. Who won the engagement? It really depends on what was in the trucks, but it's most probable that the result was that the US losses were more expensive, in spite of the fact that they destroyed the the enemy and returned home with no casualties.

Re:Wrong end of the Cold War (2, Funny)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377696)

One of the examples that's now used when teaching this stuff is a brief engagement from the last Golf War

Insert $TIGER_WOODS_JOKE here.

Re:Wrong end of the Cold War (3, Insightful)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378010)

That may be a good deal for the US if their budget is larger than the other side's. If their budget is 10x, then actions of destroying y enemy resources at 9y cost will still win them the war.

Who to make money 101 (3, Funny)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377424)

1. Get hired as a sales rep at a major security systems vendor
2. Find a flimsy but potential hole in the current security process of a given country (hopefully a reactive country that only fights fires when they're on their doorstep)
3. Start developing a solution for said problem
4. Hire a shady business person loosely associated with a criminal or terrorist group to orchestrate an 'act of terror' using said exploit and offer $10mil for 'security consulting' or the like
5. Start knocking on doors about selling your newly developed product
6. Wait
7. Reap the billions the gov will throw at you to make their latest problem go away

Re:Who to make money 101 (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377580)

I have no doubt 1-3 and 5-7 happened, but the 4th one is sort of tinfoil-hat-ish.

Re:Who to make money 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377870)

You can replace #4 with "wait until one of the Bad Guys notices the security hole on their own" and everything works just as well, although it'll take a bit longer.

alternatively "start shouting that an attack is just around the corner and only your widget can save lives" seems to be perfectly legitimate and commonplace.

Newsflash!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377426)

And as almost any of us could have told you, a hammer is a lot cheaper than replacing all the windows of your car.

Look at it this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377442)

A handful of terrorist with box cutters have cost us over a trillion dollars and over 5,000 lives of soldier with no end in sight and that wasn't even counting the attack itself. Terrorism is about disrupting lives so they are wildly successful.

Schneier hates security theater... (4, Interesting)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377444)

I applaud Bruce for railing against it, and Marcus Ranum too in his even more pointed criticism in his books. But what they are railing against is the military industrial complex, and their complaints have as much power as Eisenhower's at the end of his term, when he cautioned the American people not to let it take over.

Too. Late.

Guys like Richard Clarke write books about the upcoming CyberWar, they are abetted by Chinese BGP attacks that they couldn't be more thrilled about, because they have founded security firms that are already lobbying on K Street. Wake up. This is big business and the Blackwaterization of airports, the internet, the highways, it's begun and it won't stop. Not when the MSNBC poll is running 75-25 in favor of classifying Julian Assante a terrorist.

Poor Daniel Ellsberg, living long enough to see all his pentagon paper work undone in broad brushstrokes. Nixon didn't live to see the American security state flourish, he'd have been flush with joy had he lived. He and Charles Colson would have danced a little jig with Henry Kissinger, the merry assassins of democracy were simply ahead of their time.

Re:Schneier hates security theater... (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377614)

Indeed. The problem, as always, is that we need an 'enemy'. Since the Soviet Union did us a disservice my collapsing in the 1990's the powers that be needed to find a convenient one. China? Maybe - but we are locked in an economic menage-a-tois with China, Europe and Japan (OK, that's four). We can snipe at the Chinese, just as one would do with their lover, but dissolving the relationship is going to be really hard.

Terrorists, especially Muslim terrorists, are just absolutely perfect in this regard.

Their religion is just different enough to be offensive, their culture is different enough to be offensive and they do some truly offensive things (think behavior towards women). They're small enough to never really be a threat but large enough to act like one. They have their own bat-shit insane actors (think Kadafi and Ahmadinejad). They dress funny. They talk funny. They don't like alcohol and dogs.

Just the perfect balance between being different and truly dangerous and many of them don't particularly like us.

We have always been at war with Islam (which is actually a pretty accurate statement in a number of ways). Now if they would just develop a credible space program ...

Re:Schneier hates security theater... (2, Informative)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377634)

It's not the military industrial complex anymore, it's the politico-legal-media complex [] . Fear sells.

"State of Fear" was widely decried as an anti-global warming spiel by Michael Crichton, but it was more about how politicians and the media use fear to sell us their product. It had some lame dialog, but it was a good book.

All theatre, all the time... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377452)

America is happy to spend billions allegedly securing against terror attacks, but won't do the obvious things for fear of corporate lobbyists.

Namely, anyone with a fake ID and cash can buy all the handguns, high power rifles, extended magazines and armor piercing ammunition he could want. It's a terrorist's best possible outcome. Mexican drug cartels take road trips to the US to buy weapons and ammo. It's crazy.

Citizens take the burden, corporations are untroubled.

Simple solution (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377464)

The simple answer is to stop wasting money on shit like this. Something that kills less people per year than farm animals is not something to be wasting money on. When the towers fell we should have rebuilt them 10 stories taller, and locked the cockpit door. That should have been the end of that. Instead we waste money on ineffective security and act like a bunch of Nancys.

Re:Simple solution (1)

AstroMatt (1594081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377582)

I would mod you up if I had points!

Re:Simple solution (1)

radoni (267396) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377660)

Mod parent up!

Re:Simple solution (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377666)

Agreed. Im more afraid of US citizens than terrorists. I hear gun shots and have my car broken into every so often in my neighborhood. Then theres the hobo's everywhere that you never know if they will try to mug you. The police will never respond in time for a crisis and it was ruled fairly recently in court that police have no responsibility to protect you, only to investigate crimes. Meanwhile, people bitch about our right to own guns which essentially protects against this sort of thing. Yep. America is full of a bunch of wusses that want their government to do everything short of wipe their asses for them.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377750)

Where the heck is this that the police have no responsibility to protect you? Remind me NEVER to visit, live, or even pass through there? The police where I live clearly have a responsibility to protect citizens and are willing to act upon it.

Re:Simple solution (3, Funny)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377704)

Simple, yes. Politically tricky? Obviously.

I think there are legitimate reasons why security is so important now, but really, the shotgun approach just doesn't scale well. Add in the bureaucractic overhead and we're looking at massive investments for little return.

Hell, if you're gonna go so spend crazy, at least get the shit sponsored with ads or something. If you grope me at the airport, at least tell me it has been brought to me by Trojan condoms, and pass out a free sample.

Re:Simple solution (2, Funny)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377752)

Or just make it a requirement that TSA agents must be attractive and scantily clad and you pick your preferred sex.

Re:Simple solution (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377944)

Or just make it a requirement that TSA agents must be attractive and scantily clad and you pick your preferred sex.

Wish I could mod you "Insightful", consider this a Virtual Mod Point. :D

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34378014)

That gives new meaning to the phrase "free lei at the airport."

The captcha is "encroach", as in, "she can encroach upon my personal space any time. Giggity."

Re:Simple solution (1)

bugi (8479) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378024)

That'll get not just the Islamic radicals bent all out of shape, but the rest of the social conservative lunatics as well. Excellent idea, but I think that and more are already available for those with sufficiently large incomes to qualify for State bailouts.

Re:Simple solution (1)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377904)

Let's not forget about the expensive war that will result in a much safer nation. ;D

True!! (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377922)

Something that kills less people per year than farm animals is not something to be wasting money on.

That's right. What we really need to do is divert those resources to where they're most desperately needed, in the global struggle against violent farm animals. The U.S. has very few strategic resources devoted to the real threats; we waste money on TSA body searches while our strategic cow-tipping arsenals decay. If we're not careful we will soon be living George Orwell's nightmare.

I don't get it. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377542)

Terrorists hurt taxpayers but all the terrorism related expenses go to some contractors. Money to rebuild, to cure disease, to scan people at the airport and so on.

So basically all 9/11 terrorism did was transfer wealth to the capitalists, create a casus belli for american involvement in the middle east. And getting a large numbers of people killed. Mostly innocent. Way to go.
Terrorism has won, just as it always did since the French revolution, not terrorists.

Terrorism will always win unless a terror act is considered just as a criminal act and the only response is punishing those involved and restoring the previous situation in all respects, political social and all. That would make a terrorist act irrelevant.
Once somebody can get political, economic, social changes from an act of terrorism, that will become attractive, either as a normal or as a false flag operation.


Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377738)

So basically all 9/11 terrorism did was transfer wealth to the capitalists

It's not really accurate to describe the US military/industrial complex as "capitalist". They don't actually own any capital; they expropriate it from others. You can call them militarists or technologists, but they're not really capitalists.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377856)

The contractors they employ certainly are capitalists...

Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377768)

Terrorists hurt taxpayers but all the terrorism related expenses go to some contractors.

But, according to American fantasy economics ... if you spend billions on those contractors, they they cause the economy to grow big and strong and everybody wins.

You should also cut the taxes of those contractors since they're clearly driving the economic engine of the US and without them, there would be no employment.

It's downright unpatriotic to not spend billions on these companies. Why do you hate America?

Ultimately, there can be but one answer to terror (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377572)


Re:Ultimately, there can be but one answer to terr (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377756)

I'm sure the TSA is working on it.

It is not easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377600)

to see why the terrorists do what they do.

Who has the incentives? (1)

therm000 (1763268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377668)

The billion-dollar cost of a terrorist attack is paid by the citizens and the security contractors benefit. Doing the math: who has more incentives to make a terrorist attack, the government+private military complex or a couple thousand angry, untrained and disorganized fanatics?

Re:Who has the incentives? (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377892)

I see where you're going there, but I wouldn't say its in the security contractors best interests to cause an attack, but it doesn't seem like it's in their interests to prevent one either.

No diferrent than using non-free software (1, Funny)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377672)

In both cases, you are attacked, and you have costs.

Easy stop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377714)

We level the "terror countries" with nukes and they stop their BS. Are we just going to sit around and wait for them to get their hands on nukes and blow one up in one of our cities before we do what is needed? And for those of you who want to cry about the poor innocent people...take a look at tape from 9/11...they were jumping around and yelling in joy like a bunch of apes because of what happened to us, non of them are innocent.

The most effective terrorists (1)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377722)

The terrorists are in our own government(s). They have far more resources to use fear and scaremongering to trick the citizenry into willingly giving up their rights under the guise that some guys in caves on the other side of the world want to take those same rights away.

ROI analysis of terrorism is eye-opening (3, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377736)

There are places on the internet [] where smart people think very hard about issues like this. It turns out that the most effective terrorism is inspired by Open Source Software models, where sharing and reuse of common components improves efficiency. (It's not so strange to think of the Kalashnikov or a bomb detonator design as a piece of code.) The goal of terrorists is to de-legitimize national governments by causing them to weaken or collapse. Then, non-state entities can find a niche in the vacuum left behind. They've been incredibly effective in Mexico, Nigeria and many other places. Giant powers like the USA and the USSR are much harder beast to take down, but clearly, there is precedent.

Missed the point... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377742)

Even when they're unsuccessful, they cost us billions in security countermeasures.

That seems to be a textbook example of "successful terrorism."

The objective is only "body count" when talking to asshole politicians trying to sell their scared-shitless cluster-fuck as a Good Thing(TM).

Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377744)

"US military spending is greater than that spent by the rest of the world’s nations combined. As the US claims to 'defend' Democracy, it subverts it. How is the US truly concerned about terrorists acquiring WMD when it is the US that leads the world in the manufacture, sale and distribution of WMD? WMD are a big chunk of our GDP. Military spending, generally, is by far the biggest slice of the pie. The US is in the death business." - Len Hart, How the U.S. went from 'World's Number One Exporter of Terrorism' to Bankrupt

"Unbeknownst to most Americans, their government was hard at work supplying Iraq with billions of dollars in U.S. government financing and hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of advanced machinery and electronic equipment in the years leading up to the 1991 Gulf War." - William D. Hartung, And Weapons for All, 1994

"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaeda. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the 'TV watcher' to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money." - Pierre-Henri Bunel, former French intelligence and military officer

BOO! (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377754)

That one was for free.

Of course... Who didn't know this? (2, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377860)

Has there actually been any major war or conflict in which terrorism hasn't been used in place of costly head-on campaigns? Demoralization of the opposite side's citizenry and the invoking of fear in one's opponent's lower ranks is a standard tactic in every battle and war... especially if at least one side is low on bodies/resources.

We could do the same in the "War on Terror" if we wished. Hell, we just may be, but the public may not know about it.

However, I don't necessarily agree with the quote "They cost us billions in countermeasures." That shifts the purchasing responsibility onto a /tactic/ instead of a person who signs the supply and service requisitions. It is an active choice to spend any dollar as a response to terrorism. If those "countermeasures" are actually kick-backs or unethical methods of funding a friend's business, did terrorism cause that fraud? No. It's an action of man.

"So random poster, you seem to be suggesting that we're spending too much on fighting terrorism... is that what you're saying?"

No, not really. I think we're spending too much money NOT fighting terrorism. Or, to say it another way, I think we're spending too much money on things that will not rationally reduce the chance of anti-US terrorism.


STFU and let me explain. We spend billions on creating pain and suffering. Terrorists recruit those who have been affected by (directly or indirectly) that pain and suffering. Suddenly there's more money and bodies for terrorism. So the US spends more money on creating pain and suffering... etc. You see the problem. Hearts and minds have not been won. Only hate and derision.

Direct investment in schools (secular AND religious), infrastructure, non-narcotic agricultural income sources, cultural heritage centers (years before Chase Credit and McDonalds, please) -- these are all ways to spend the money that will not increase the terrorist recruitment causes. Oh, and don't charge a dime for it. Make sure it's a gift. There's no use in doing good with the intent of reducing terrorism if the people are on the tab for all the "good" you're doing.

With stronger education, reinforced cultural roots, non-controversial sources of income, the people themselves will begin to take politics into their own hands. It's a ~40 year process, but that's how people change... one generation at a time.

But these aren't profitable ventures. War is much more profitable. Responding to terrorism, as the article shows, is much more profitable. And we value the economy over all other things in America, today.

Re:Of course... Who didn't know this? (1)

sinrakin (782827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377954)

This is exactly right. Responding to terrorism is incredibly profitable. It hasn't cost the military/industrial/government sector a cent; it has enriched them enormously, both financially and with political capital. If the terrorists didn't exist, we would have had to create them.

The terrorists have already won (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377896)

"Terrorist attacks are often designed to provoke an overreaction from the opponent"

Based on the new US security measures involving molestation, radiation etc I will avoid flying whenever possible. I'm sure there are a lot of Americans that feel this way. The government has fallen for this tactic hook, line and sinker costing America billions.

Effective combat of "Terrorists" (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377940)

It is the perception that the money terrorists have spent getting a super power riled up is hugely disproportionate to the after effects. Ignore direct costs of the 9/11 attacks and we ARE talking about astronomical amounts of money fighting phantoms.

Going to war against two different countries as a "security measure" is the real costs come from. There were many pro-war Americans at that time, but according to this article nations like the U.S. would need to fight the "War on Terror" completely covertly to keep the cost benefit motive away from future terrorists.

Conversely, the worst thing to do would be to ride around on the deck of an aircraft carrier (possibly the ultimate symbol of massive dollars spent) and declaring the war over when it had barely begun.

Right out of Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell (1)

dprovine (140134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377976)

Everybody at DHS and TSA -- heck, everybody in the government or who votes for somebody in the government -- should read Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell. []

It's about a spy whose job is to do exactly what Al Qaeda is doing to us. If people read it and discussed it, maybe they'd see how this sort of thing is supposed to work, and exactly how perfectly we're falling for it.

Opportunity cost (1)

AmElder (1385909) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377996)

From this perspective, what the 'war on terror' costs, the most expensive item on the balance sheet should be the lost opportunities to spend all those lives, time, and treasure on something more constructive. Those billions of dollars could instead have been spent on anything from small business tax incentives, to scientific research, to foreign aid to develop foreign markets for American goods. The money circulates, whether spent on body scanners or on school supplies, but it probably could have circulated to better effect.

Billions for defense, not a penny as tribute (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378042)

Granted that TSA has gotten over-zealous, and the naked-picture scanners are way over the top, but these things seem due for correction.

The more important thing is a long-term goal and policy of promoting self-representation and local justice in the world as a whole (and this should be done at the expense of working w/ governments which don't allow such). Now that the world isn't strongly divided into camps defined by the Cold War, the U.S. needs to make case-by-case decisions, choosing whom to work with on their own merits.

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