10/19/2006

Here' an interesting post via Boing Boing about the danger of people turning themselves into terrorists by browsing the internet, a dilemma publicly posited by Michael Chertoff, apparently speaking on behalf of the US's Homeland Security (via Reuters):

Disaffected people living in the United States may develop radical ideologies and potentially violent skills over the internet and that could present the next major U.S. security threat, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday.

"We now have a capability of someone to radicalize themselves over the internet," Chertoff said on the sidelines of a meeting of International Association of the Chiefs of Police. "They can train themselves over the internet. They never have to necessarily go to the training camp or speak with anybody else and that diffusion of a combination of hatred and technical skills in things like bomb-making is a dangerous combination," Chertoff said. "Those are the kind of terrorists that we may not be able to detect with spies and satellites."

Chertoff pointed to the July 7, 2005 attacks on London's transit system, which killed 56 people, as an example a home-grown threat. To help gather intelligence on possible home-grown attackers, Chertoff said Homeland Security would deploy 20 field agents this fiscal year into "intelligence fusion centers," where they would work with local police agencies.

Read it a second time. It actually reads even more stupid the second time. Really.

Now read it a third time; except now, insert the words 'through reading books' wherever you see 'over the internet'. Note also that at no point does he appear to speak of 'the internet' as a means of communication, specifically stating dangerous radicals who browse the net and read stuff don't need to speak to each other. Ever.

It's nice to know if I do ever go to the States, they'll be happy to ask me why I was googling different ways to blow up the Dome of the Rock with a dirty bomb. I don't know. If I tell them I was researching a science fiction novel I never got around to writing, do you think they'd believe me?
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