Thursday, September 1, 2011


I had a hunch the inevitable 9/11 ten year retrospectives would piss me off.  I didn't have to wait long... 

The excellent Homeland Security Watch blog posted a link to Homeland Security Affairs who has published a collection of essays today in remembrance of the ten-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, titled Ten Years After: The 9/11 Essays.

I've only read a couple but Chertoff's 9/11: Before and After, was everything I expected it to be.

I am not surprised Chertoff expressed disdain for the rights of criminal suspects that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

I am not surprised he was uncomfortable with rules of evidence that make it challenging to prosecute accused criminals while upholding the law.

I am not surprised Chertoff resorted to aphorisms like “refashioning our legal tool set,” “streamline information requests,” “detaining operatives,” “incapacitating terrorists,” “failure to integrate warning information,” and “less than optimal.”

Actually I was a little surprised Chertoff bothered to argue that the FISA Act Amendments created the means to resolve legal issues related to electronic surveillance, but then he didn't bother to mention that the Bush administration frequently chose not to submit their domestic spying requests to the FISA courts anyway.

I am not surprised that, except to complain that criminal courts won’t accept evidence provided by the government in many terrorism cases, Chertoff utterly failed to mention issues arising from the torture of suspects, bizarre attempts to redefine torture, and the deaths of accused terrorists in US custody or that of countries to whom the US rendered them.

I am not surprised Chertoff failed to mention the concerns of air travelers subjected to ever more intrusive searches at TSA checkpoints. He mentioned nothing at all about the controversy surrounding the deployment of nude scanners at US airports, devices the sale of which enrich him personally.

I am not surprised that in his closing paragraphs, as though he’d run out of terrorism issues with which to be concerned, Chertoff turns his attention to cyber crime and hacktivism in the context of how difficult existing law makes it for the government to monitor the internet in real time.

No, I am not surprised, disappointed, but not surprised.  I remain fearful for the moral integrity and ethical center of our nation in the hands of unelected officials the likes of Michael Chertoff.

UPDATE: Here's a sobering article on claims by Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall that the Obama administration is operating under a secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act to spy on American citizens.  Al Qaeda sure got their money's worth...

REUPDATE: And for a more measured, less self-serving, viewpoint on the state of Al Qaeda these visit always interesting