The AP thinks the world needs to know that the U.S. government is assigning Americans and other international travelers computer-generated scores assessing the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.
The AP has even disclosed what some of the factors are.
Thanks for sharing that.
I'm sure the terrorists will find it helpful in avoiding detection.
Has anyone in the media ever heard of keeping their mouth shut in the interests of national security?
The excuse for this disclosure are twofold: First, it's news. Second, it involves the privacy of Americans.
Let's start with the "news" angle.
When it comes to publicizing information that will aid terrorists, that excuse isn't good enough. Anyone who spreads such information worldwide is aiding enemies of this country. I am but a blogger, but even I respect the worldwide reach of the internet and routinely refrain from publishing anything that I think might assist terrorists in harming Americans. I do not, for example, discuss the details of possible plans to strike Iran's nuclear capability. Nor do I link to such discussions by military experts. Why make such information more readily accessible to our enemies?
I normally would not even discuss the AP's story except that there's a larger national security threat from our own media that needs to be discussed and eliminated.
There are certain things you don't discuss or link to if you value your own security and that of your fellow Americans, no matter what it does for your profits, readership or internet traffic.
Yes, terrorists can figure some of these things out on their own, eventually, but eventually is the key word here.
The AP story indicates that the existence of this program was disclosed in the Federal Register earlier this month. Yes, but how many terrorists read the Federal Register? I'm a lawyer, and I rarely read it, and I certainly don't read everything in its numerous volumes. Nobody reads it all.
Minimizing the spread of information that can aid those who seek to kill us is critical. We need to buy ourselves time. The cancer of Islamic terrorism will eventually be destroyed, but in the meantime many innocent lives will be needlessly lost of we act self-destructively in the manner the AP has just, again, so glaringly illustrated.
AP's only remaining excuse is that there's a civil liberties issue at stake here.
That dog won't hunt. Most of the information we are talking about here -- what people ordered to eat, where they are from, how they paid for tickets, etc. -- is not even the type normally consdered confidential.
And if this information is not stored somewhere, it would mean that agents would have to re-invent the wheel without the benefit of any prior history every time they are asked to consider whether someone is a risk to an airline flight or not. That would be absurd. As a practical matter, it would be impossible given the number of flights every day. Besides, how could agents ever hope to connect the dots if their first step is to erase them all?
We need to better deter these kinds of disclosures. We need to take a fresh look at ways that media who disclose this type of information can be penalized, whether by private boycotts and sanctions from individuals and businesses who deal with the offenders or by prosecution when laws are broken.
It all seems harmless enough, until it gets people killed.