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  • Todd Boyle
    Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 15:51:00 -0400 To: Digital Bearer Settlement List , dcsb@ai.mit.edu, mac-crypto@vmeng.com,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2001
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      Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 15:51:00 -0400
      To: Digital Bearer Settlement List <dbs@...>, dcsb@...,
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      From: "R. A. Hettinga" <rah@...>
      Subject: ESR: Decentralism against terrorism -- first lessons from the
      9/11 attack
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      ESR: Decentralism against terrorism -- first lessons from the 9/11 attack
      Tuesday September 11, 04:47 PM EDT [ General News ]
      - By Eric S. Raymond -
      (Editor's note: The following is a message sent by Eric S. Raymond to
      several news organizations.)

      Some friends have asked me to step outside my normal role as a technology
      evangelist today, to point out in public that a political panic reaction to
      the 9/11 terrorist attack could do a great deal more damage than the attack
      Today will not have been a victory for terrorism unless we make it one. If
      we reward in any way the Palestinians who are now celebrating this hideous
      crime in the streets of the West Bank, that wil have been a victory for
      terrorism. If we accept "anti-terrorism" measures that do further damage to
      our Constitutional freedoms, that will have been a victory for terrorism.
      But if we learn the right lessons, if we make policies that preserve
      freedom and offer terrorists no result but a rapid and futile death, that
      will have been a victory for the rest of us.

      We have learned today that airport security is not the answer. At least
      four separate terror teams were able to sail right past all the elaborate
      obstacles -- the demand for IDs, the metal detectors, the video cameras,
      the X-ray machines, the gunpowder sniffers, the gate agents and security
      people trained to spot terrorists by profile. There have been no reports
      that any other terror units were successfully prevented from achieving
      their objectives by these measures. In fact, the early evidence is that all
      these police-state-like impositions on freedom were exactly useless -- and
      in the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center lies the proof of their

      We have learned today that increased surveillance is not the answer. The
      FBI's "Carnivore" tap on the U.S.'s Internet service providers didn't spot
      or prevent this disaster; nor did the NSA's illegal Echelon wiretaps on
      international telecommunications. Video monitoring of public areas could
      have accomplished exactly nothing against terrorists taking even elementary
      concealment measures. If we could somehow extend airport-level security to
      the entire U.S., it would be just as useless against any determined and
      even marginally competent enemy.

      We have learned today that trying to keep civilian weapons out of airplanes
      and other areas vulnerable to terrorist attack is not the answer either --
      indeed, it is arguable that the lawmakers who disarmed all the
      non-terrorists on those four airplanes, leaving them no chance to stop the
      hijackers, bear part of the moral responsibility for this catastrophe.

      I expect that in the next few months, far too many politicians and pundits
      will press for draconian "anti-terrorist" laws and regulations. Those who
      do so will be, whether intentionally or not, cooperating with the
      terrorists in their attempt to destroy our way of life -- and we should all
      remember that fact come election time.

      As an Internet technologist, I have learned that distributed problems
      require distributed solutions -- that centralization of power, the first
      resort of politicians who feed on crisis, is actually worse than useless,
      because centralizers regard the more effective coping strategies as threats
      and act to thwart them.

      Perhaps it is too much to hope that we will respond to this shattering
      tragedy as well as the Israelis, who have a long history of preventing
      similar atrocities by encouraging their civilians to carry concealed
      weapons and to shoot back at criminals and terrorists. But it is in that
      policy of a distributed response to a distributed threat, with every single
      citizen taking personal responsibility for the defense of life and freedom,
      that our best hope for preventing recurrences of today's mass murders
      almost certainly lies.

      If we learn that lesson, perhaps today's deaths will not have been in vain.
      Eric S. Raymond

      "The power to tax involves the power to destroy;...the power to destroy may
      defeat and render useless the power to create...." -- Chief Justice John
      Marshall, 1819.
      R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah@...>
      The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
      44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
      "... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
      [predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
      experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
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