: The most overused, panicky, paranoid buzzword of the last decade is “privacy.”
Privacy paranoia dogs the Internet. Somehow, it became a sin to use evil cookies to target ads on free Web pages. Y’know, if the New York Times uses its registration data to know that I am male so it doesn’t waste an impression selling a feminine hygiene product tp me, that’s just fine. If Amazon uses my buying history to recommend books I might like, that’s a service. If a smart supermarket learns that people who buy beef buy more ketchup and they sell that data to Heinz, good for them. No harm done.
Now the privacy bugaboo monster is being brought to bear to harm our efforts against terrorism. That’s not only stupid. It’s dangerous.
The feds are planning to put surveillance cameras on national monuments in Washington and suddenly, the amorphous club of “privacy advocates” is whining in stories in the Washington Post and NY Times). “It is becoming more evident that Congress may have to step in and ensure that this technology does not take away our right to be left alone,” Rep. Constance A. Morella (R-Md.) said in the Post.
What a bunch of crap! There is no privacy issue here.
First, this is public property. Cops could be standing there watching what you’re doing. Photographers could legally record what you’re doing and air it because you’re doing it publicly. I could watch what you do and tell the world. You don’t have privacy in public.
Second, and far more important, these monuments are likely targets of terrorists. It is a vital necessity of national security to watch and record what happens there so we can perhaps prevent an attack or at least catch the terrorists in the act.
For self-appointed privacy whiners to stand in the way of this is not only stupid, it is obstructing our national security.
I can’t quite grok the ideology of privacy panic. Sometimes, it comes from PC liberals like the frightening Ed Markey; sometimes it comes from libertarians and right-wing government-haters. And the media too often just accept this whining without questioning the wisom or logic or simple common sense of it. No matter: It’s time to call this privacy whining what it is: Stupid.
Yesterday, I had FoxNews on my office TV and watched the high-speed chase du jour — not the dump truck chase, that was Thursday’s high-speed chase, but Friday’s high-speed chase with copters — news and police copters — chasing a bozo in Florida as he drove nowhere and then got out of his car and ran. All the while, those copters kept him in sight, even zooming in on him in the backyard of a house; you could practically read the brand name on his dorky shorts. And I thought: Damn, I wish we could bring this technology — this wonderful, Big Brother technology — to catch criminals other than idiot dorks in fast cars.
I wish we had more surveillance cameras to catch the murderer who dropped anthrax in mailboxes.
The anthrax connection
: Here’s new evidence that the hijackers could have been behind the anthrax attacks. The NY Times reports today that one of the hijackers on the Pennsylvania jet was treated for a skin lesion that the doctor and other experts now believe was anthrax. The doctor in Ft. Lauderdale, Christos Tsonas, reported this to the FBI in October; it’s coming out only now, thanks to a Johns Hopkins report that says this “raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks.” Now add this:
Dr. Tsonas’s comments add to a tantalizing array of circumstantial evidence. Some of the hijackers, including Mr. Alhaznawi, lived and attended flight school near American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., where the first victim of the anthrax attacks worked. Some of the hijackers also rented apartments from a real estate agent who was the wife of an editor of The Sun, a publication of American Media.
In addition, in October, a pharmacist in Delray Beach, Fla., said he had told the F.B.I. that two of the hijackers, Mohamad Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, came into the pharmacy looking for something to treat irritations on Mr. Atta’s hands….
For his part, Dr. Tsonas said he believed that the hijackers probably did have anthrax.
“What were they doing looking at crop-dusters?” he asked, echoing experts’ fears that the hijackers may have wanted to spread lethal germs. “There are too many coincidences.”
But that’s not all, folks. The Times also reports today that we’ve found a biological warfare lab in Afghanistan being built to product anthrax.
I have long believed that the anthrax attacks came from the foreign terrorists — not that I know anything; I’m just another blathering blogger. But I fear that the FBI has been chasing domestic geese when they should have been looking for foreign connections that can still do more damage here with anthrax or with dirty radioactive bombs or just with suicide bombs.
: The apparent ring-leader of the gang that murdered Washington Post reporter Daniel Pearl laughed in court as he was charged with the crime. The Times of London reported on the scumbucket’s youth in Britain with a particulary strange tidbit about his idol:
Former schoolmates in London described Omar Sheikh as a bully who constantly sought attention. As a teenager he would lie about his age so that he could enter arm-wrestling contests with younger opponents. The sport became an obsession after he saw his idol, Sylvester Stallone, arm-wrestling in the film Over the Top, and Omar would tour pubs in the East End of London, winning money in local contests.
What he said
: Ken Layne said it before I did: The “demonstrators” from Anderson “protesting” in favor of the company look like Scientologists: “the same empty slogans, glazed eyes and sweaty fear.”
They also look doughy, too white, and more boring and nerdy than even an accountant should look. They’re not doing themselves any PR favor here. I wouldn’t trust them. Would you?