Big Brother & The WTC Attack
The Perfect Excuse to Mandate Smart Cards
[Editor's Note: For those hypnotized Americans who are waving flags, singing songs, donating blood, and otherwise anxious to kick ass, here's the reality of where you're being lead-down the Primrose Path, towards slavery and misery. Welcome to the Brave New World of the Illuminated Bush Adminsitration... Ken Adachi]
Experts See A High-Security America Of Surveillance & Seizures
By William Glaberson, New York Times Service
Sept. 19, 2001
NEW YORK Security experts in the United States are describing a new kind of country that could emerge, where electronic identification might become the norm, immigrants might be tracked far more closely and the airspace over cities like New York and Washington might be off-limits to all civilian aircraft.
Attorney General John Ashcroft outlined several proposals Monday, saying, "We should strengthen our laws to increase the ability of the Department of Justice and its component agencies to identify, prevent and punish terrorism."
The proposals he described included measures that would give law enforcement officials expanded electronic surveillance powers and new powers to seize the assets of suspected terrorists. Since the attacks, Congress has been acting on proposals to make wiretapping of computers easier, and a flood of measures is expected that will loosen restrictions on what effectively is domestic spying. Legal experts say that the courts are unlikely to impose many restrictions on Congress's security decisions. As a result, they say, the country can adopt security measures as stringent as its people will tolerate politically or will support financially.
Experts say that technology has presented almost limitless possibilities. "Each American could be given a 'smart card,' so, as they go into an airport or anywhere, we know exactly who they are," said Michael Cherkasky, president of Kroll Inc. consultants.
"The technology is here," Mr. Cherkasky said, noting that it can be readily expanded.
Such cards, with computer chips, would have detailed information about their owners and leave a computer record when they are used. The cards could be coordinated with fingerprints or, in a few years, facial characteristics, and be programmed to permit or to limit access to areas or entire buildings. They could track someone's location, financial transactions, criminal history and even driving speed on a particular highway on a given night.
Critics said that electronic identification cards, combined with other measures, could usher in an era of surveillance and suspicion. And civil libertarians note that an anxious public may be willing to trade freedoms for greater safety in the aftermath of the attacks last week.
It is not clear, said Bruce Ackerman, a law professor at Yale University, whether that acceptance will continue if people are discomforted. "It is a profound affront to be metered and measured," he said. "And that is, I think, the debate of the future."
Legal experts said the civil libertarians will find little sympathy in the courts. In World War II, they noted, the Supreme Court approved the internment of Japanese-Americans, a decision that constitutional scholars now widely consider to have been wrong.
"If history suggests anything," said David Strauss, a law professor at the University of Chicago, "it suggests the courts will allow the government to get away with a lot. "Not quite everything, but a lot more than you would expect."
In interviews, experts on security and terrorism outlined some choices. Immigration could be more sharply controlled, with some immigrants required to report periodically on their activities. Video surveillance, already growing, could be sharply increased in stores, offices and public places and at public events. Law enforcement officials could expand the use of personality profiles, possibly including racial descriptions, to identify potential terrorists.
Terry F. Lenzner, chairman of Investigative Group International, a corporate security concern, said that, if the flow of money was being monitored before the attacks last week, authorities might have realized that people were receiving money from Osama bin Laden or other terrorists.
Airport security is likely to be just one area for debate. Armed sky marshals, stronger cockpit doors and new technology for luggage searches are likely to be accepted widely. But some experts suggested that the country could also adopt a system like Israel's, where security people often interrogate passengers about their travel plans and rifle through their baggage. John Horn, vice president of IPSA International, a security consulting concern, said he favored declaring the airspace over some cities off limits to commercial flights. But he and other experts said that the public, which already generally balks at the prospect of airport construction, might balk at the cost and inconvenience of building new runways or airports to avoid cities. Partly because of limits of normal security systems, some experts said, computer technology will be harnessed to make the country safer.
Even if opposition makes a national identity card unrealistic, experts say the attacks will sharply increase adoption of security technology. "Over a period of time, these technologies will slowly be becoming part of our life," said Martin Pollner, a New York lawyer at Loeb Loeb, who was director of law enforcement at the Treasury Department in the 1970s. "You will no longer be able to just come and go."
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