Tuesday January 9, 2007

Overreaction at the Port of Miami

Let’s just clear the decks on this one: the thing at the port. (here is the Herald link, but I’m a little fed up with the Herald as I sift through my archives and find all my links to their articles dead; at least Rick quotes the pertinent bit). Well, the internets exploded yesterday with jeers about the overreaction, the hysteria, whatnot. I don’t have the links, but trust me, there are 4,000 links on Technorati, windows were popping up faster then I could close them yesterday, and I don’t feel like digging them back up.

Here’s the thing: A guy pulls up to the port in an 18-wheeler. He doesn’t speak English. He doesn’t have a permit to enter. He says there’s nobody in the cab with him, but it turns out there are two other dudes, who also don’t speak English. And you guys think it’s overreacting to think that it could be a terrorist attack? I mean, OK, it’s a little silly, when you think about it logically, if there were explosives or whatever going through the port, they would come in on a ship and leave on a truck. But still — the guards have a job to do, and it seems like an overabundance of caution in this case was pretty advisable.

I direct your attention to Type I and Type II errors. An inperfect system can be optimized to tend to generate either false-positive or false-negative errors. If false-negative = successful terrorist attack, isn’t a false-positive once in awhile sort of acceptable?

Update: Subject to verification. If the driver in fact speaks perfectly good English (as Rick says in the comments) and it was the guard who had a language issue (as was claimed somewhere) then somebody should be hung out to dry.

Update: Channel 10 unfortunately doesn’t have the video Rick’s talking about, but here’s the story.

Amar Al-Hadad said he was “humiliated, disrespected (and) treated real badly just because my name is an Arabic name and I’m a Muslim.”

Well, there’s that, and there’s the fact that you were rolling into a freakin’ port without the proper permits, with two other dudes, one of whom didn’t even have ID. If he shed any light as to what the hell he was thinking, the article doesn’t quote that part. The police treat everyone like shit, and while it’s entirely possible that they’re racist and treat non-whites worse, I don’t see how this guy knows how he would have been treated were he, say, a Mormon from Minnesota.

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  1. Rick    Tue Jan 9, 10:22 AM #  

    Alesh: The facts are still coming in. Channel 10 news had the guys on the news last night. At least two of them spoke perfect English. I mean, they were right there on TV speaking better English than the vast majority of Miamians, which, by the way, was probably the source of the problem. The driver broke down during the interview after being overcome with humiliation with how he was treated.

    Even a Federal official was quoted as saying it was “a comedy of errors.”

    False positive? BS.



  2. John Timoney    Tue Jan 9, 10:28 AM #  

    I don’t understand why, if the guards had suspicions, the driver and his “non-existent” passengers weren’t simply shot on sight. Certainly if they were trained police officers that’s what would have happened, and of course, their actions would have been supported completely by my department.



  3. Jonathan    Tue Jan 9, 12:27 PM #  

    Alesh, that is absolutely right. Any security system will be imperfect, so the question is whether to err on the side of false positives or false negatives. Since the cost of false negatives in this case is much higher than that of false positives, the answer is obvious. However, I am not sure that anyone should be hung out to dry. If the guard had inadequate English language skills then that issue should be addressed. But it sounds like the guard did the right thing, under the circumstances, by stopping the guys and calling for help rather than letting them in to save himself trouble. Guards should not have to worry about getting themselves or their superiors into trouble if they stop someone who looks suspicious and it turns out to be a false alarm.



  4. Rick    Tue Jan 9, 12:41 PM #  

    So what made these 3 men “look suspicious,” Jonathan?

    .



  5. Rick    Tue Jan 9, 01:35 PM #  

    Alesh: So you’re saying that every out-of-town trucker who shows up at the port without the necessary permits and carries a passenger without ID on their person would be treated the same way. DHS, FBI, FDLE, local agencies and bomb squads would all respond. The occupants would be arrested and hauled off to jail on bogus charges.

    You know that’s BS. What I can’t figure out is why you’re so afraid to say it.

    .



  6. alesh    Tue Jan 9, 01:56 PM #  

    What I can’t figure out is why you’re so afraid to say it.

    Huh?



  7. Steve    Tue Jan 9, 03:46 PM #  

    This is going nowhere, isn’t it. I suspect it’s because we don’t have any facts. Were there 3 men in the truck or just 1, and did the driver lie to the guards about the number? Did he have a permit or not? Is there a procedure for the first-contact personnel to follow, and if so, did they do so correctly and make the right moves?

    Every commentator I’ve encountered makes a point of clamoring about how vulnerable our ports are, from land and sea alike. Cargo as well as passenger. The guards have to know this, too.

    Sorry, but I’m agnostic on this one until more facts are revealed.



  8. Jonathan    Tue Jan 9, 05:57 PM #  

    There are two separate questions. One, did the guard(s) in this case do the right thing (or: what should they have done instead)? Two, how do you design a security system that comes as close as possible to preventing all terrorist attacks, while at the same time not inconveniencing innocent people more than necessary.

    On the first question, I don’t know. But (and this relates to the second question) given that guards at most places aren’t paid much and are often recent immigrants — IOW, some of them are the kinds of people that you might have a misunderstanding with if you didn’t speak their native language — I am happy that whoever was working at the port that day was conscientious enough to err on the side of caution when he didn’t understand what was going on. He could have decided it was too much trouble to make a fuss and waved the guys through.

    On the second question, I think it’s obvious that if your priority is to prevent terrorist attacks then you will have to inconvenience some innocent people. It is like the situation faced by the police when they are trying to catch people who just robbed a bank and are trying to escape. If the priority of the police is not to inconvenience innocent people then they will be careful to stop only cars that they are sure contain robbers. In that case innocent people would be protected but also it would be likely that the robbers would get away, which would be bad for everyone in the long run. So instead the police stop any car that looks suspicious, which means that quite a few innocent people get inconvenienced, frightened and even roughed up, but also that the robbers are much more likely to be caught. It is a question of which tradeoffs to make, and I think it’s reasonable to trade temporary inconvenience for a few people for a much lower possibility that other people will be murdered.

    If your response is to suggest that the port hire better guards, that may be the right thing to do, but maybe not. Better guards have to be paid more, and perhaps the extra money would buy more security somewhere else. More tradeoffs.



  9. Rick    Tue Jan 9, 08:25 PM #  

    Jonathan:

    So I’ll ask again…what made these 3 men “look suspicious.”

    The guard should have addressed the driver for not having the necessary permit that’s apparently required for entry. Everything else after that is the result of a security guard not being able to communicate in English and an over reaction to the situation because the men were Middle Eastern. Period. End of story. Substitute the ME’s with South Americans, Mexicans, Germans, Canadians…whatever, and you have a whole different type of response to a guy without a permit.

    I’m not talking about ignoring a threat, I’m talking about not going through the roof simply because the people you are looking at are ME’s. That’s what happened in this case.

    Being inconvenienced and being hauled off to jail on trumped up charges and because you are of a certain nationality are two totally different things here.



  10. NicFitKid    Tue Jan 9, 10:10 PM #  

    First of all, the men in question quite obviously speak English, as can be seen in the clips from their press conference in the cbs 4 story that Rick linked to when he updated his original SOtP post. In the video, one of the men flat-out refutes the authorities’ claim that they lied about how many people were in the truck. He says he was sitting in the passenger seat, in plain sight. I don’t know why everyone thinks that more than one driver in a truck is grounds for suspicion. Hasn’t anyone ever heard of team-trucking? It’s a long drive from Detroit.

    Speaking of Detroit and it’s surrounding communities, there’s a fairly large Muslim community up there doing the same thing you or I do, i.e. work for a living. In the case of these guys, that work involves driving trucks. What, you think Muslims in America spend all their waking hours praying and talking jihadi politics? Get real. These guys were driving auto parts from Detroit (really, they still make them up there!) bound for the Latin American market. Pretty mundane stuff. Non-local trucking companies must use the port now and again, but not frequently enough to justify the expense of a year-round ID, or why else would the Port offer a one-day pass on their list of permit fees (warning: PDF)?

    Please don’t call what these guys went through an “inconvenience”. Being barred entry until your company clears up a paperwork snafu is an inconvenience. Being barred entry and forced to go back to Detroit or to another port where your trucking company has secured the proper permits is a bigger inconvenience, and might cost the company and/or the drivers some money. Being arrested and jailed (all charges dismissed the next day, BTW, what a solid case!) for not having the right paperwork is an order of magnitude higher than an inconvenience.

    As for the security guard, he was just doing his job in stopping them for further inspection. It’s local, state, and federal law enforcement that went overboard with the the arrests.



  11. NicFitKid    Tue Jan 9, 10:20 PM #  

    Sorry, I linked the CBS4 directory rather than the specific story. Here’s the link I meant to use, same as the one SOtP used to update their post.



  12. alesh    Tue Jan 9, 11:29 PM #  

    I see no substantial incompatibility with any of the comments 7 to 10; I fundamentally agree with all of them.

    Jonathan is correct, except to say that similar arguments slippery-slope down to, say, stopping African-Americans because they “fit the profile” of a criminal. See Malcom Gladwell — our intuitions are valuable up to the point that they are not; they can be trained, though.

    Rick is correct (except for the presumption that Jonathan claimed the men “looked suspicious”), especially if that version of the facts bears out (ie how do we know whether the other dudes were sitting in the passenger seat of laying in the back?).

    Steve is correct, insofar as it’s impossible to make a final judgment without some serious clarification of the facts.

    NFK is absolutely correct, as far as he goes.

    We’ll just have to wait it out; some guy crying on TV because he doesn’t like the way the police treated him isn’t proof.



  13. Jonathan    Tue Jan 9, 11:42 PM #  

    NFK: Same points apply to the cops as to the guards. They face the same tradeoff between false positives and false negatives. It would be nice if they could catch only real bad guys and leave everyone else alone. But that’s impossible, because the number of real terrorists is so small, relative to innocent people who fit the same general description (young men, probably Arab, with trucks, behaving in certain ways, etc.), that you can’t detect the real ones without setting your detectors to a high enough sensitivity that you will generate some false positives as well. Given the big cost of false negatives I think it’s worth tolerating the false positives, and anyway the detection system will become more accurate as people learn. And yes, being arrested is an inconvenience. Being blown up is quite a bit worse.



  14. NicFitKid    Wed Jan 10, 04:20 AM #  

    And yes, being arrested is an inconvenience.
    —Jonathan

    I think you’re blurring the distinction between being detained and handcuffed by law enforcement, questioned, but eventually released, and being formally arrested, charged with a crime, and going through the intake process of a place like Turner Guilford Knight correctional center. If any of your friends or family every go through this experience, please let them know that it’s only an inconvenience. I’m sure they will quietly concede the point in the face of your cool, dispassionate rhetoric.

    We’ll just have to wait it out; some guy crying on TV because he doesn’t like the way the police treated him isn’t proof. —Alesh

    Proof of what? That they’re not evil terrorists whose truckload of automotive wiring harnesses can transform themselves into a WMD? I thought it was the government that had to prove its case in court when it starts charging people, not the defendants having to prove their innocence even after the judge threw out the charges THE NEXT DAY. Don’t hold your breath on the authorities giving out any more information at this point. If anything else comes to light, it’ll probably be through a lawsuit, with lots of heavily redacted documents and sealed evidence.

    But hey, I know, post-9/11, the War on Terror (that never ends), it justifies just about anything. The government can detain a full blown citizen (Jose Padilla) without charges for years in a Navy brig, and everyone just changes the channel. The government said he was a dirty bomber, so it must be true, no trial needed. Heck, no formal charges needed either. By that standard these guys got lucky, so we should all feel warm and fuzzy inside. After all, nothing like this could ever happen to us, right?

    The Chicken Little hawks (the sky is falling, get me a wiretap!) will always push for more power to arrest, detain, eavesdrop, and suppress, and their arguments will always portray security and liberty as a zero-sum game limited to binary choices, with dire consequences for the “wrong” choice. It’s an excellent way to keep the populace scared and toeing the line.

    And with that, let me wish you all a happy and festive Orange Alert.



  15. Rick    Wed Jan 10, 05:50 AM #  

    Rick is correct (except for the presumption that Jonathan claimed the men “looked suspicious”)....

    Okay, Alesh, so when Jonathan says:

    Guards should not have to worry about getting themselves or their superiors into trouble if they stop someone who looks suspicious and it turns out to be a false alarm.

    ...and I presume he’s talking about the port incident, then I’m wrong? If you say so.

    Of course, Jonathan, has decided not to explain himself, which I really think is a good thing because it would only reveal his prejudices even more. You gotta wonder whether he’s like that only with Middle Easterners or with all minorities. You know, being a Republican from Chicago and all.

    .



  16. alesh    Wed Jan 10, 07:27 AM #  

    I think Jonathan hasn’t addressed your question because it’s obvious he was speaking in general terms. That’s my reading, anyhow — he started out on the specific incident, and then (lacking, as we do, good information about what really happened) turned to an outline of how security operations at the port ought to work.

    I think if you re-read his comment you’ll agree.



  17. Rick    Wed Jan 10, 07:38 AM #  

    Yeah, well, first he agreed with everything you said, Alesh.

    I, too, can speak “in general terms” about how Middle Easterners should have all their paperwork in order when they’re trying to gain entry into secure facilities and claim there is absolutely no connection to my statement and the case in point.

    Or I can keep my mouth shut, like Jonathan has chosen to do, and let other people defend my position.

    .



  18. Rick    Wed Jan 10, 07:41 AM #  

    ...claim there is absolutely no connection to my statement and the case in point.

    Should read:

    ...claim there is absolutely no connection between my statement and the case in point.



  19. Jonathan    Wed Jan 10, 08:25 AM #  

    Of the three of you, only Alesh passes the reading comprehension test. Note that in comment 8 I said that I don’t know if the guards acted correctly in detaining the men. WRT the other responses to what I wrote. . .

    NFK: I am well aware that being arrested etc. is very unpleasant compared to not being arrested. However, compared to being killed or injured by terrorists it is a minor inconvenience. Your standard of comparison seems to ignore the fact that there really are people out there who want to kill Americans. What do you want to do about them? I keep reading about how port security is terribly important. Yet when port staff and cops err on the side of caution in a security matter and make a mistake, we are all over them for not being perfect. We can’t have it both ways. Security is a human enterprise and humans make mistakes. If we treat every mistake as a scandal requiring assignment of blame, security people are going to be more likely in the future to think twice before acting on their reasonable suspicions, and we will have less security. WRT wiretapping, Jose Padilla etc., it’s irrelevant to the current discussion and I don’t think you even know what my opinions are.

    Rick: Of course, Jonathan, has decided not to explain himself, which I really think is a good thing because it would only reveal his prejudices even more. You gotta wonder whether he’s like that only with Middle Easterners or with all minorities. You know, being a Republican from Chicago and all.

    The nicest thing that I can say in response to this garbage is that it’s intellectually dishonest. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. On a substantive level, your quick resort to personal attack is a strong indicator that you have no argument.



  20. mkh    Wed Jan 10, 10:27 AM #  

    I am well aware that being arrested etc. is very unpleasant compared to not being arrested. However, compared to being killed or injured by terrorists it is a minor inconvenience. Your standard of comparison seems to ignore the fact that there really are people out there who want to kill Americans. What do you want to do about them?

    They don’t need to physically kill us if they kill the core of the American dream: our freedom. On that score the current policies and laws enacted to “protect” us may as well have been dictated from a cave in Afganistan.

    Personally, I am trying to protect the America I believe in from my well-meaning but ignorant and frightened countrymen. If I have to run the risk of getting blown up in order to preserve some semblance of freedom in this nation, that’s okay with me.



  21. alesh    Wed Jan 10, 12:26 PM #  

    Rick~

    I must not have read to the end of your comment before! You say:

    You gotta wonder whether he’s like that only with Middle Easterners or with all minorities.

    That’s completely inappropriate. Grow up.

    mkh~

    Good point, and I, too, would rather be blown up. But I don’t think that tightening up port security is harming anyone’s liberty.

    Double-checking paperwork is fine. Racial profiling is not. I think we all agree on that; the difficulty is knowing exactly what happened.



  22. Rick    Wed Jan 10, 01:06 PM #  

    Alesh: Jonathan made the statement that implies that the men at the port were “suspicious looking.” I’m calling him on it and asking why he believed that was the case. He has repeatedly refused to answer the question.

    There’s a reason why he’s not answering. And I think we all know what that reason is.

    It’s not a question of growing up. It’s a question of someone owning up to their prejudices.

    Let him answer and quit being his wing man.

    To follow on mkh’s most excellent point:

    _Americans need to have the guts to act like Americans and not be so afraid of terrorism that they’re willing to give up the very ideals the country was founded on, Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist and author Leonard Pitts Jr. said at Wake Forest University’s Fall Convocation Oct. 12.

    Pitts quoted Colin Powell’s admonishment the day after the 9-11 terrorist attacks for people to resume their normal lives because “We are Americans, we don’t walk around terrified.”

    “Yes, we do,” Pitts told the audience of faculty and students in Wait Chapel. “And because we do, the people in our government for whom civil liberties are an inconvenience get away with murder.” _



  23. alesh    Wed Jan 10, 01:32 PM #  

    Jonathan made the statement that implies that the men at the port were “suspicious looking.”

    No, he didn’t.

    As to your second point, I agree strongly. Where this really gets interesting is the notion of “security theater,” which has really run rampant. But even a lot of money spent on security that does SOME good is mis-spent on a utilitarian basis. In other words, if your goal is to “save American lives,” the dollars per life saved (even under the most extreme predictions of possible future terrorism) are much higher then the same money spent on, say, making our roads safer.

    I read something great about this awhile back that I can’t find now. In lieu of that at least look at this.



  24. Rick    Wed Jan 10, 04:50 PM #  

    As far as the boing boing link goes…it’s spot on and it’s the main reason why they call them “terrorists.”

    No, he didn’t.

    We’ll have to disagree.

    .



  25. Steve    Wed Jan 10, 10:40 PM #  

    Shit, guys, at bottom, “suspicion” is in the eye of the beholder, and guards, soldiers, cops, etc. are there to do the beholding. They make a lot of mistakes, and like most fallible humans, they’re gonna goof when they confront the unfamiliar more than when they face the routine. Toss in the climate du jour, and some poorly paid non-Arab guards are likely to hit the alarm when dealing with some Arabs at the slightest provocation, like a wrong answer, a mis-filed paper, and whatever else ALLEGEDLY took place.

    That said, they’re supposed to have some training and apply common sense. Which still doesn’t ensure perfect outcomes. Tough balance. Tough job. People are gonna get hurt no matter what, and that’s real bad if you’re the one.

    What amazes me about this discussion, though, is the harder position Rick seems to have carved out, especially in light of his remarks a few weeks ago (elsewhere) on the subject of police profiling in the Carlton Moore incident (I think). Something about profiling being only “a theory,” altho I think he came around somewhat on that as more accounts came forth. Rick, do I have it right?



  26. Rick    Wed Jan 10, 11:26 PM #  

    As I recall, Steve, I had posed a question to you about whether an African-American could ever be pulled over without there being a question of the police stopping them for Driving While Black.

    You gave me a Yes-No answer and I called the “Yes” part of your answer theory because you made the claim that DWB happens “all the time.” I don’t believe it happens “all the time.” I certainly don’t believe that it never happens and as the facts emerged in the Moore case, I acknowledged that, perhaps, it had happened there.

    In this case, the fact that you have a Haitian rent-a-cop talking to a guy who speaks perfect English, I think we gotta say that the guard did the miscommunicating, because there actually was the report of a miscommunication. There was also “a federal source” saying that the incident was a comedy of errors.

    The guy didn’t have the proper Port permit. Fine. One of 3 guys on the truck didn’t have an ID. Fine. Does that now mean that the FBI, DHS, FDLE, ICE, Miami-Dade, Coast Guard and x-ray trucks all now should respond to the scene?

    Any reasonable person can see that these guys were given the treatment and arrested because they were Middle Eastern and, thus, “suspicious.” Listen to Jonathan:

    But it sounds like the guard did the right thing, under the circumstances, by stopping the guys and calling for help rather than letting them in to save himself trouble. Guards should not have to worry about getting themselves or their superiors into trouble if they stop someone who looks suspicious and it turns out to be a false alarm.

    The guard did the right thing and shouldn’t get in trouble because the guys looked suspicious, Jonathan says. And they looked suspicious because….why?...because they looked Middle Eastern.

    Now, as this thread will show, Alesh disagrees with that conclusion and Jonathan is too busy cowering behind Alesh to explain himself. But it’s all right there to see.

    I take a hard line, Steve, when the facts are crystal clear to me and I feel strongly that I’m right. And there’s something about prejudicial people and their defenders that just rubs me the wrong way.

    .



  27. Steve    Thu Jan 11, 09:43 AM #  

    Rick: don’t you require sleep?

    Your recounting is consistent with my recall of the give-and-take on profiling in the Moore case as well.

    I think in this case, as more facts emerge, the rent-a-pig certainly over-reacted: even if he thought he needed back-up, there ought to be (and probably are) intermediate steps before the nuclear option that rained down.

    There’s little doubt that for many years to come, perfectly innocent bystanders are gonna get the hairy eyeball for the crime of looking middle-eaternish. Doctors in Jaguars are gonna get pulled over, waiters and delivery men are gonna inspire rudeness, and burka-clad moms with kids on the plane are gonna get pulled aside for full body cavity searches. My point was that exactly the same standards have been applied to Black people for some years now, defended by law enforcement agencies who cite statistics “justifying” them. That’s the American Effin Way, and it’s “crystal clear” to me.

    I share your attitude regarding prejudiced people and their defenders. The SOB’s give me hives.



  28. Jonathan    Thu Jan 11, 11:14 AM #  

    Yes, prejudiced people, that’s the real problem. But if you make bogus insinuations of prejudice against someone that’s A-OK. After all, no one could possibly disagree with you on the merits of an issue, so anyone who disagrees with you must have bad motives. And if the other guy calls you on your jerk behavior you can always change the subject to the general evils of prejudice and to your goodness as a person for opposing them.



  29. NicFitKid    Fri Jan 12, 02:07 AM #  

    Jonathan~ Actually, I’d be very interested to hear your views on Padilla and the suspension of habeas corpus for American citizens once they’re declared enemy combatants. Do you have any links to your thoughts on the matter?

    Regarding the topic at hand, when you said “I am well aware that being arrested etc. is very unpleasant compared to not being arrested. However, compared to being killed or injured by terrorists it is a minor inconvenience”, I could only grin and chuckle. It was almost a textbook example of the binary choice (a little repression OR horrific violent death) security hawks present to the populace when they justify unjust actions by our government. The only good thing to come out of this matter was that the judge had the sense to realize the charges were complete BS.

    My fundamental objection here is with the arrests. I can understand the guard calling in law enforcement when the paperwork didn’t check out on the drivers. I can understand law enforcement detaining them, questioning them, and searching/scanning their truck and trailer. But once that’s all cleared up, how on earth did the arrest of these three working-class joes increase anyone’s safety?

    Rick~ There’s no need to start throwing out personal accusations over this, and I for one do not believe anything Jonathan wrote in this thread indicates a prejudice against Arabs. Please stop.



  30. Jonathan    Fri Jan 12, 09:01 AM #  

    NFK: Jury’s out for me. I don’t like many of the Patriot Act provisions because of their intrusiveness and the possibility (eventual likelihood, IMO) of abuse. The enemy-combatant thing is troubling for the same reason, though AFAIK it is legal. (And I do not think we owe much consideration to real enemy combatants, i.e., battlefield captives.) However, so far there has not been much abuse, and it seems to me that these measures have been helpful in catching terrorists, so I am willing to tolerate them for the time being. We have done worse during wars in the past. Also, the fact that we eventually repealed our most burdensome past wartime civil-liberties constraints makes me feel a bit better about the whole thing. And I think that a lot of the criticism of these measures has been excessive and hysterical, given both the degree of public scrutiny and low level of abuse engendered by these measures.

    Again, with the port thing, I am not saying that the truck drivers deserved to be arrested. I am saying that any security system is going to be imperfect and that the port’s system should err on the side of caution. The incident with the drivers was one of those errors. Ideally the people involved will learn something from it, and will improve the system in ways that reduce the number of false positives without also increasing the number of false negatives.



  31. alesh    Fri Jan 12, 10:38 AM #  

    Alesh disagrees with that conclusion and Jonathan is too busy cowering behind Alesh to explain himself.

    You’re being a real ass about this, Rick. NOBODY agrees with your “interpretation” of Jonathan’s statements.

    I can understand law enforcement detaining them, questioning them, and searching/scanning their truck and trailer. But once that’s all cleared up, how on earth did the arrest of these three working-class joes increase anyone’s safety?

    NFK hits the nail on the head, actually.

    it seems to me that these measures have been helpful in catching terrorists

    Can you cite an instance, Jonathan?



  32. Looking Forward    Fri Jan 12, 11:41 AM #  

    For all y’all smartass information, THIS security agent didn’t “over-react.” I don’t like swarthy ragheads with attitude so I busted their ass. Cause I could. Felt real good, too, to kick back on somebody else for a change instead of being shit on all day all night like they do me. And when I graduate police academy and get me my own gun, you can bet on more of the same and harder on down too.

    I love America.



  33. Jonathan    Fri Jan 12, 04:35 PM #  

    Alesh: Some of the detainees who we waterboarded or sent to other countries to be tortured are reputed to have given us information that saved many lives. I am thinking of Khalid Sheik Mohammed in particular. There is also much more sharing of information between police and intelligence agencies than there was in the past. (Remember that the FBI refused to authorize a search of Zaccarias Moussaoui’s computer, which contained information that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.) IIRC a few terror cells have been broken up in this country based on information from wiretaps and electronic money transfers, though I don’t have specifics. The interception of some phone conversations between people in the USA and elsewhere is also reputed to have been helpful (until the New York Times publicized the program). I’m sure you can easily find more info and specifics if you want to. As I wrote, I don’t like these measures, but I think that they have been helpful on balance, largely because the government hasn’t abused them very much.



  34. Rick    Fri Jan 12, 05:43 PM #  

    NOBODY agrees with your “interpretation” of Jonathan’s statements.

    “NOBODY” in the context of this thread being, of course, you, NFK, and Jonathan, the person who made the comments. I have to admit, this is quite an overwhelming trio, or should I say duo, but, no matter. I’ve decided that until you pick up the support of the verbmeister, Manuel Tellechea, my opinion of this matter isn’t going to change a bit. Not that it really matters at all to ANYBODY, but there may be SOMEBODY out there still following this thread.

    .