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Department of Homeland Security: Security Theater
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Clinically Insane
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Sep 14, 2007, 12:01 PM
 
One thing that I very much agree with Ron Paul about is his views on this department.

Why are political departments created? They obviously employ experts in a given area, but you don't need a whole, massive department if all you want is intelligence (which we, in theory, already had an agency for). My theory is that a big reason why departments are created is so that they can come up with charts and graphs and be accountable to another set of politicians in order to affect public policy. This is about policy, not about fighting terrorism.

Unfortunately, it seems that whenever you create a bureaucracy , the more you add to it the slower and less adept it becomes in dealing with current problems in a dynamic and agile way, as a general rule of thumb (whether this bureaucracy is privately or publicly owned).

Instead of assembling a group of foreign intelligence experts perhaps headed by a security czar or something, or simply improving upon our existing CIA/FBI, we have created this great bureaucracy we call the DHS, that in prior Republican administrations would have been extremely un-Republican. What is needed to combat terrorism? To me, terrorism is simply politically motivated crime often organized in foreign countries. What else is needed to combat terrorism other than foreign intelligence experts working with local police?

Why couldn't we have simply gone one of these routes rather than assembling a whole new department? Perhaps the Bush administration wants to affect the constitution and public policy? It seems like many of the things he is trying to do are facets of a police state, rather than a democracy. Perhaps we should cut to the chase and ask the real underlying question: do we want to become a police state, where it is expected that government would monitor phone conversations in the same of security, for instance? If not, what aspect of our constitution which has served us well for so many years justifies a whole department to amend it?


The bottom line and point is this: we are being swindled by all of these bullshit terms and phrases that involve usage of the word "terrorism" when fighting terrorism is not a profound act that requires us to upend our existing system. It is being used as a political tool, and a tool of distraction. The current DHS organization is not the most nimble and effective means to combat terrorism, but none of this is actually about combating terrorism. This is about security theater and advancing political careers.

In the meantime, Ron Paul has been given an excellent platform to run on. The Republicans need to redefine themselves, because many of them no longer uphold true conservative values. That being said, I'm certain that many Democrats supports the DHS in some formation too, so this certainly isn't YARvDT (Yet Another Republican vs. Democrat Thing)...
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 01:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
The bottom line and point is this: we are being swindled by all of these bullshit terms and phrases that involve usage of the word "terrorism" when fighting terrorism is not a profound act that requires us to upend our existing system. It is being used as a political tool, and a tool of distraction. The current DHS organization is not the most nimble and effective means to combat terrorism, but none of this is actually about combating terrorism. This is about security theater and advancing political careers.

Let's say you have Dick Cheney levels of paranoia...

Would your (or Dick's) use of the word "terrorism" be a tool of distraction, or are you just cluing people in to how bad you think things are.

Whether someone is being manipulative or prudent is really a question of perspective, that person's perspective, not yours. Most people would believe they are only being prudent, as most people tend to ascribe only good motivations to themselves.

That being said, yeah, DHS is a joke, but it's a stupid joke, not a clever one.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 01:22 PM
 
Good point subego,

Yeah, the balance between paranoia and prudence is very delicate, and often lacking clarity. I guess the best way to tackle this is to weigh the personal costs of pursuing action or inaction against the personal losses, or in the case of the government, the costs for the country as a whole.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 01:53 PM
 
Yep - the current theatre is only there to terrify people. It's pathetic.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 02:00 PM
 
Homeland Security was created to give Americans confidence that there would be sufficient coordination between the various government agencies concerning the various and sundry threats to the country's security. It may be superfluous in many respects, but that can be said of most government agencies. I think it does serve a purpose, given that institutional rivalries contributed in part to the lack of communication that prevented the government from preempting 9/11.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 02:03 PM
 
Yes, the purpose it serves is to pump out paranoia propaganda. "Threat Level Orange! Be Afraid!"
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 02:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I think it does serve a purpose, given that institutional rivalries contributed in part to the lack of communication that prevented the government from preempting 9/11.

This is a good surface explanation, but I think it breaks down on further analysis.

Intra-agency rivalry is an endemic situation. How can you fix that with another agency? What's to keep them from feeling like the new agency is a rival? DHS is such a joke I could see myself withholding information from them just because they'd blow it.

Remember, we are talking about spies. Keeping secrets is their raison d'etre.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 02:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Homeland Security was created to give Americans confidence that there would be sufficient coordination between the various government agencies concerning the various and sundry threats to the country's security. It may be superfluous in many respects, but that can be said of most government agencies. I think it does serve a purpose, given that institutional rivalries contributed in part to the lack of communication that prevented the government from preempting 9/11.

How does creating one new agency to coordinate the communication of the other agencies help here, as opposed to making changes to our existing agencies?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 03:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Good point subego,

Thank you.

I think you can find this sort of thing at the core of What Went Wrong™ in this country.

Extend the analogy out a bit. If you're Dick Cheney, how do you react to the accusation of fearmongering. You think it's insane.

When Dick Cheney says "you're helping the terrorists", from his perspective, is he lying? From your perspective, this is an very unAmerican attempt to muzzle you. What does he think of that accusation? He should muzzle his legitimate opinion because some insane person is overzealously interpreting it?

Our society has become a giant internet argument.


Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Yeah, the balance between paranoia and prudence is very delicate, and often lacking clarity. I guess the best way to tackle this is to weigh the personal costs of pursuing action or inaction against the personal losses, or in the case of the government, the costs for the country as a whole.

Well, prudence is just another one of those positive traits that we all think we have in copious quantities. I think the key axis is one of priorities, specifically, who's priorities we adopt.

For instance, I am highly resistant to having civil liberties infringed upon because of terrorism (or anything for that matter). This is equivalent to saying I would allow more terrorist attacks. Dick doesn't see it that way.

Neither of these stances are more or less prudent than the other, they just reflect radically different priorities.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 03:33 PM
 
Right. Dick's priorities are expanding presidential power at the expense of civil liberties.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 03:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
How does creating one new agency to coordinate the communication of the other agencies help here, as opposed to making changes to our existing agencies?
That was necessary component of reform as well, but that doesn't mean reforming the individual agencies approaches to one another would accomplish the entire objective.

We have a hodgepodge of acronym-agencies that have overlapping national security duties. It makes good sense to me that there should be an official arbiter responsible for the general national security outlook who has the authority to deal with the other agencies, can assemble the pieces of the puzzle and in the end make sure the government has some kind of coordinated approach to the security situation.

Prior to 9/11, it's obvious that we didn't devote much attention to how the agencies would coordinate. And, as a byproduct of Water Gate, a pretty thick wall was erected by Congress between the FBI and CIA that, while important in some respects for the protection of civil liberties, also really seemed to hurt us on that fateful day. Prior to 9/11, the President's cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Congressional intelligence committees had to do the national security coordination. It just didn't work out properly, and in a very real way the federal government failed to carry out its most important Constitutional responsibility - the protection of the country from threats foreign and domestic. Now we have the DHS. As I said, to me it makes a lot of sense, but then again I'm not a Bush/Cheney hater.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 03:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
Right. Dick's priorities are expanding presidential power at the expense of civil liberties.

A fair assessment.

He wants to protect the thing, instead of the idea behind the thing. Apparently to the exclusion of said.

Seems like a retarded way to win a war of ideology, but what do I know?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 04:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
That was necessary component of reform as well, but that doesn't mean reforming the individual agencies approaches to one another would accomplish the entire objective.

We have a hodgepodge of acronym-agencies that have overlapping national security duties. It makes good sense to me that there should be an official arbiter responsible for the general national security outlook who has the authority to deal with the other agencies, can assemble the pieces of the puzzle and in the end make sure the government has some kind of coordinated approach to the security situation.

Prior to 9/11, it's obvious that we didn't devote much attention to how the agencies would coordinate. And, as a byproduct of Water Gate, a pretty thick wall was erected by Congress between the FBI and CIA that, while important in some respects for the protection of civil liberties, also really seemed to hurt us on that fateful day. Prior to 9/11, the President's cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Congressional intelligence committees had to do the national security coordination. It just didn't work out properly, and in a very real way the federal government failed to carry out its most important Constitutional responsibility - the protection of the country from threats foreign and domestic. Now we have the DHS. As I said, to me it makes a lot of sense, but then again I'm not a Bush/Cheney hater.


I just don't understand why we have to devote more resources to the problem in this way. We need for foreign intelligence officers to work with local police, as well as our CIA and FBI. We don't need people working on terror threat levels, on creating pamphlets to hand out, on creating informational websites, or on any of the number of other things I imagine them doing. The DHS has somehow become involved in EMT/Paramedic training now, for example... Why this can't be handled locally or via private companies is beyond me.

What needs to be coordinated, and wouldn't it be better to devote the same resources into making what we have leaner and meaner? When you add cruft to cruft, you get more cruft.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 04:18 PM
 
So you want Spooks visiting local sheriffs? NSA agents contacting city police about threats from international cyber-criminals that the local yocals won't even be able to comprehend, let alone do anything about? That's just not how the system works. Even on an inter-institutional level within the federal framework, there are still laws and regulations restricting the ways in which the agencies can cooperate. I agree with being lean and mean, but I don't see a problem with DHS. Perhaps the agency could communicate more effectively with the public, but that doesn't mean good, important work isn't being done there.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 05:12 PM
 
The 'solution' (removal of civil rights and the destruction of the constitution) is more harmful than the problem. That's the problem with the DHS.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 05:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
So you want Spooks visiting local sheriffs? NSA agents contacting city police about threats from international cyber-criminals that the local yocals won't even be able to comprehend, let alone do anything about? That's just not how the system works. Even on an inter-institutional level within the federal framework, there are still laws and regulations restricting the ways in which the agencies can cooperate. I agree with being lean and mean, but I don't see a problem with DHS. Perhaps the agency could communicate more effectively with the public, but that doesn't mean good, important work isn't being done there.

I added "as well as with the CIA/FBI" to go along with local authorities, perhaps you missed that point...

I just don't see any empirical evidence that the DHS is just not adding more complexity and bureaucracy, but I don't have any hard evidence to substantiate that right now.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 05:21 PM
 
peeb says:
"The 'solution' (removal of civil rights and the destruction of the constitution) is more harmful than the problem. That's the problem with the DHS."



Sure it is... Tell that to the folks who died in the twin towers or Pentagon, or in Penn.

Your approach allows the bad guys to do whatever, and we only deal with them AFTER they kill your family. I'd much rather we catch them on the phone buying bomb materials or transferring bribe money by wire, or getting orders from other terrorists overseas. Sure, we hear a lot of BS in the mean time, but I'd rather catch them before tehy do something. Do YOU have a better way to accomplish this?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 05:25 PM
 
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin, 1759

You won't get safety from something that is less likely to kill you than a lightening strike by giving up your rights. No one can protect you 100% from everything, certainly not someone offering to do it in return for your freedom. Terrorism is vastly unlikely to kill you when compared to anything else. The US government right now is far more of a danger to Americans than terrorism.

Your notion that there are 'bad guys' and that the 'good guys' (who you surrender your rights to) will protect you from them is laughable.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 05:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
Sure it is... Tell that to the folks who died in the twin towers or Pentagon, or in Penn.

Your approach allows the bad guys to do whatever, and we only deal with them AFTER they kill your family. I'd much rather we catch them on the phone buying bomb materials or transferring bribe money by wire, or getting orders from other terrorists overseas. Sure, we hear a lot of BS in the mean time, but I'd rather catch them before tehy do something. Do YOU have a better way to accomplish this?

So we devote x number of resources to monitor all phone calls in the country, and to process all of this data... Then the terrorists communicate over the internet, do we start monitoring all internet messaging of any kind? Okay, so the terrorists start encrypting their online communication, now what?

What we're doing is sort of liking putting cops along every stretch of large interstate highway that spans across the across country so that they are in visible range of the highway, but only having them monitor one lane of the multi-lane highway, and cars moving in one direction.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 05:30 PM
 
Even better, perhaps we should post a cop outside (or even inside) everyone's house, and you could get permission from the cop if you wanted to leave - he could check that you were not carrying weapons or anything - we'd be safer that way!
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 06:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Now we have the DHS. As I said, to me it makes a lot of sense, but then again I'm not a Bush/Cheney hater.

The issues that seemed to point to the necessity of a DHS were all correctly identified, but the mentality that saw a DHS as the solution is all back-asswards.

It's the same mentality that tried to "solve" the problem of airline security in the wake of 9/11. The nature of the exploit the terrorists used was surprise, which by definition is something you aren't planning for. Policies that would have caught the perpetrators had the plan not been a surprise are going to predictably miss the mark. With airline security, the net result is that there are so many proscribed items that security keeps track of none of them well, while the reality of the situation is that you couldn't pull off a truly successful hijacking any more even if you somehow smuggled in a gun. What you can do with a hijacked plane just isn't a surprise any more. The people in charge engaged in the worst kind of reactionary thinking. They fixed yesterday's problem.

The intelligence community isn't any different. A policy that would have caught this if we were expecting it is missing the point. Infighting was just a symptom, the actual problem was not perceiving the gravity of the threat. It was a surprise. Just as the element of surprise was the only reason the passengers allowed the hijackings to get as far as they did.

DHS is like making sure nail clippers don't get on a plane full of people willing to take out the guy with a pair of Glocks in his carryon.

If the various intelligence agencies need to drop the infighting and coordinate on something post-9/11, you can just ask them to.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 06:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
peeb says:
"The 'solution' (removal of civil rights and the destruction of the constitution) is more harmful than the problem. That's the problem with the DHS."



Sure it is... Tell that to the folks who died in the twin towers or Pentagon, or in Penn.

Excepting the DHS part... Okay. It's what I believe. I'm not going to shy away from stating it.


Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
Do YOU have a better way to accomplish this?

That's not the point. peeb and myself are both espousing restrictions. How are restrictions going to be a better way to catch the terrorists?

The point is that the point isn't catching terrorists. The point is the survival of our ideology. An ideology founded in civil liberties.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 06:57 PM
 
That's right. Terrorists are a complete red-herring. They might cause occasional, local tragic events, but they are not a threat to the nation, nor a credible threat to anyone. More Americans kill themselves every year than are killed by terrorists. The biggest threat is the decimation of the constitution and the removal of hard won rights, and their transfer to unaccountable, lawbreaking bureaucracies.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 07:16 PM
 
Fellas, fellas, fellas.
If you only knew.

These incidents are no longer isolated.
And you only get snippits in the media now.
I wish I could disclose more.
All men are created equal, but what they do after that point puts them on a sliding scale.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 07:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
Fellas, fellas, fellas.
If you only knew.

These incidents are no longer isolated.

How are you relating this?

Do you plan on taking my guns too?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 07:55 PM
 
I want EVERY law abiding CITIZEN to own a firearm.
Preferably an assault rifle.
Seriously.
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Sep 14, 2007, 07:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
I want EVERY law abiding CITIZEN to own a firearm.
Preferably an assault rifle.
Seriously.

But the rest of the Bill of Rights can suck it?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 08:12 PM
 
Well that's good. I agree that every law abiding citizen should have a firearm. I'll send them to you, and you can figure out which ones are law abiding, and which ones are not, right?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 08:13 PM
 
No, I'd like for parts of the Patriot act to die.
And since firearms are regulated, so should the press and "free speech".

BTW, there is a Sig P226 on my flight deck.
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Sep 14, 2007, 08:18 PM
 
So, your logic is that because some of your rights are abridged, you think all of them should be? Great.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 08:49 PM
 
Life isn't fair.
*sigh*

Peeb wroted:
I'll send them to you, and you can figure out which ones are law abiding, and which ones are not, right?
Who? The citizens?
Any felons and forcible felonies are forfeit the right to a firearm as it is.
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Sep 14, 2007, 08:51 PM
 
So you have no justification for the idea that you want to gut the whole constitution because you think one part of it is not sufficiently upheld?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 09:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
And since firearms are regulated, so should the press and "free speech".

Can you clarify this?

Are you saying

Effect: regulation of free speech and press
Reason for desiring effect: regulation of firearms

or is this more nuanced?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 09:23 PM
 
My leg got broken, so I should break my arm?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 09:44 PM
 
Regulate all or regulate none.
There are plenty of reasons to regulate the puke the media continues to produce.
Like trying suspects by media.
The press should be responsible for any havoc they create.
By regulation, say requiring a license to be a reporter, you can regulate the harm media can cause.
Like requiring a license or permit for any other industry.

Oh, the Democrats control congress, they had/have every chance to kill the Patriot act and disband DHS.
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Sep 14, 2007, 09:52 PM
 
Wow. So you want the government to say who can have access to the press? It's a shame the Soviet Union collapsed - you'd have loved it!
"If one thing's broken, we must break everything" - great idea.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 09:59 PM
 
Have you ever wondered why there are five Terror Alert levels, yet we've never been below Level Three? Does it really make sense that we've been at "Elevated: Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks" or higher for more than five years? Will we ever be at "Low"?

     
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Sep 14, 2007, 10:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
Regulate all or regulate none.

I don't think the question is whether the amendments in the Bill of Rights have boundaries, the question is where should those boundaries be placed.

I don't see excessive regulations on the 2nd Amendment being a good rationale to excessively regulate other amendments.

Shouldn't the goal be to remove the excessive regulation on the 2nd?
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 10:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Dork. View Post
Have you ever wondered why there are five Terror Alert levels, yet we've never been below Level Three?

Same reason most movies get at least 2 stars, or that 0-10 scales where 5 means "average" usually average to about 7.5.
     
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Sep 14, 2007, 10:08 PM
 
"I don't see excessive regulations on the 2nd Amendment being a good rationale to excessively regulate other amendments.

Shouldn't the goal be to remove the excessive regulation on the 2nd?"

That would take common sense. Something Sky Captain doesn't have in abundance.

     
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Sep 14, 2007, 11:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
Regulate all or regulate none.
There are plenty of reasons to regulate the puke the media continues to produce.
Like trying suspects by media.
The press should be responsible for any havoc they create.
By regulation, say requiring a license to be a reporter, you can regulate the harm media can cause.
Like requiring a license or permit for any other industry.
Very interesting thought. It would be interesting if *ahem* someone with a brain that functions on a sane adult level would actually address the pros and cons of Sky Captain's point.

We require teachers, doctors, lawyers and many other professions to be practiced only by qualified persons who've shown some level of competence, their practices are regulated, and some level of performance standards are maintained by the ability to revoke licenses. Why not a requirement to have a "press license" required by mainstream media outlets?

I'm not entirely convinced it's a good idea, by the way, just an interesting one.
     
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Sep 15, 2007, 10:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post

That would take common sense. Something Sky Captain doesn't have in abundance.
*sigh* *shakes head*
And you want to be obtuse.

Domestic crime does not affect the economic security of the country as a whole.
A well planned terrorist attack, in a key financial center as rare of an event as it may be, will devastate the economy.
Due diligence is key in preventing this from happening.
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Sep 15, 2007, 11:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
A well planned terrorist attack, in a key financial center as rare of an event as it may be, will devastate the economy.
We already had one in a key financial center. Other than the fact that quite a few of the financial businesses that were in the WTC left Lower Manhattan for Jersey, so the impact for Lower Manhattan is still being felt, any financial setbacks were short-lived. In fact, I bet that financial services companies took a good long work at where they stored their records after the attack, to make sure they were stored in redundant places.

I contend that the war in Iraq is devastating the economy much more than the terrorist attacks did. But that's for another thread, I think.

Maybe we should ask what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to help matters? I'm sure that running a summer camp in Terrorism Preparedness is making an impact. When the next terrorist attack happens in Huntsville, the city's sixth graders will all know what to do!
     
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Sep 15, 2007, 11:22 AM
 
Huntsville DOES have a munitions storage facility, you know.
And missile defense command is there also.
I can't tell you how much stuff I flew into Redstone.
All men are created equal, but what they do after that point puts them on a sliding scale.
     
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Sep 15, 2007, 11:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
Huntsville DOES have a munitions storage facility, you know.
And missile defense command is there also.
I can't tell you how much stuff I flew into Redstone.
I'm not knocking Huntsville, I know a friend who just got an engineering job there with a defense contractor recently so I know how much activity is there. I'm just questioning how useful a fully-trained corps of sixth graders will be in the event of a terrorist attack....
     
Mac Elite
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Sep 15, 2007, 12:29 PM
 
It's about survival if their parents are incapacitated.
Not about 11 year olds picking up guns and fighting.

The DHS is supposed to be fishing for bad guys.
You only get to see the surface of what's going on.
Parts of the bait and lures get broadcast by the media(which they think they discovered). And twisted.

But sure there is political wrangling. There is in any organization.
Any.
All men are created equal, but what they do after that point puts them on a sliding scale.
     
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Sep 15, 2007, 01:16 PM
 
I love your notion of 'Bad Guys' - the Bush administration ARE the bad guys - they have damaged America far more than terrorists have. You should hand your first amendment rights over to them though, for all of our safety!
     
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Sep 15, 2007, 04:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sky Captain View Post
The DHS is supposed to be fishing for bad guys.
You only get to see the surface of what's going on.

Saying DHS was a badly implemented bad idea ≠ fishing for bad guys is bad
     
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Sep 15, 2007, 05:32 PM
 
I think that THE SPONSORS of "News Broadcasts" should get their moneys worth. So when they pay for "News" and get opinion, they should get their bucks back. The editors of the news and the news readers should also get nothing.

So, lets do nothing but what we've been doing. lets ignore the islamic terrorists and their financial backing. Lets ignore the sneaky dealings between China, Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, et al, and then when they Do take out San Francisco and Chicago, whats the plan then?
     
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Sep 15, 2007, 06:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by CRASH HARDDRIVE View Post
address the pros and cons of Sky Captain's point

It's preposterous. If the government regulates who is and isn't press, you don't have a free press anymore.

Many of the regulations placed on firearms are equally preposterous. Where I live, if I want to legally possess a firearm I need to register with the state. If you need to register your right, it isn't a right anymore. This is likewise the case with the press, or as we are talking about it, the right to be the press.
( Last edited by subego; Sep 15, 2007 at 06:23 PM. )
     
 
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