The current terror alert, which has resulted in temporary closures of U.S. and allies’ embassies in MENA countries, is logical and, of course, justified. Some have rightly speculated that the Obama administration tries to distract from the NSA scandal in an attempt to demonstrate that the work of the security agency is indeed service to citizens rather than surveillance of subjects. That total surveillance would lead to disclosure of “an awful lot of chatter” on the internet as has been the case immediately before 9/11 is a matter of course. There is probably terrorist activity around the world at any time and there are serious debates about certain counter-activities by the “West” may ultimately lead to more terrorist activity, just according to classical mechanics where action is accompanied by reaction of the same type and magnitude but opposite direction.
What mainly concerns is that spying organizations such as the NSA or GCHQ have fundamentally changed their operation mode. Secretive, unconstitutional, and explicitly denied when caught red-handed. Once, during the Cold War, born out of imminent threats by another superpower with the aim of collecting intelligence by spying, spying (on all and everything) is now the means to identify real or alleged threats. The non-constitutional and cloudy right of “security” thus beats the constitutional human right to privacy.
But there is no such thing, “right to security”. Life is by and large not foreseeable. When estimating the risk, what counts is the number of casualties in certain areas due to terrorist attacks and compare it with every-day casualty risk, for instance due to car accidents, lightning, tornadoes etc. After two areal wars (in Afghanistan and Iraq) and in the midst of an ongoing (endless?) Global War on Terror with the frightening spin-off of total surveillance (future analysts may call it “Orwellian”), American “reaction” upon “action” (9/11) does in fact lack any proportion.
So, intrinsic to the concept of Global War on Terror, periodical terror alerts are logical and justified. They are means of creating the illusion of safety for subjects who are more or less uninformed but totally surveilled.
5 August 2013 @ 8:20 am.
Last modified August 5, 2013.