Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Casting A Wide Net To Catch Terrorists Doesn't Work

Hannibal over at Ars Technica has put together an interesting post about why large-scale surveillance to catch terrorists simply won't work, although it will transfer significant funds from the US Treasury to the bank accounts of well-connected defense contractors.

He notes a parable from an ancient religious text to demonstrate his point, which blew our minds. Seems there was this king in the Middle East who heard, on the basis of the most technologically advanced intelligence gatherers of the day, that a male child would be born in his kingdom who would one day rule all the earth. The king freaked out, fearing for his throne and his life, and summoned the intelligence offers to tell him more. Finding out only the approximate date of birth of the child and the town where his parents lived, the king endeavored to have every male child in the province under two years of age slaughtered. Ah, safe at last.

Unfortunately, the terrorist boy and his parents escaped under cover of night to a neighboring non-extradition treaty country so all those kids died for nothing. And, get this: the rumor that the boy would grow up to become king of kings and rule forever was apparently spoken in some kind of code and meant no direct threat to the king's throne or his life. Huh. Well, sometimes you have to slaughter a few thousand little boys for good measure.

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