This is the second part of a series that will explore what needs to be done in order to defeat terrorism.
As demonstrated just this past week, intelligence can play a key role in defeating terrorist acts. The interception of terrorists with plans to bring down as many as ten planes on trans-Atlantic flights should prove the worth of such information.
Intelligence can be obtained in a variety of ways. Satellite observation, electronic signal interception (radio & Internet), banking records, phone records, and informants (among others) have all been used by this country and others in cooperation to gather intelligence on terrorist activities. This information reveals the who, what , and where of the terrorist’s activities. This results in finding out who the leaders are, where they might be along with their supplies, what their plans are, and when is the best time to find them at certain places before they commit their horrific deeds.
Now before any Liberal (and other assorted moonbat) readers of this post get their panties in a twist about “illegal surveillance” and other related subjects, lets get something straight – we give the government far more information on our tax return than what they would find in any investigation of terrorist activities (unless you are a terrorist). The intelligence activities discussed here are focused on overseas phone & bank accounts, and target non-citizens of the United States, and as such, to the best of my understanding, do not fall under United States criminal codes. Past practices of intelligence gathering have been far more intrusive to the United States citizen, and some would say, Draconian in nature (think of Hoover and the Cold War). Finally, I did a post on the NSA’s activities that involved communications intelligence on foreign nationals.
Just as important is the control of information that is released about what threat has been found and how it was discovered. This supplies the terrorists with knowledge so that they can change their habits or activities to avoid being discovered. Thus, the activities surrounding the gathering of information must be kept secret
Unfortunately, our media has not helped the effort in keeping intelligence activities undercover. A post written back on 2/3/06 titled Media for Who? explored this topic with events leading up to that time. Among the more recent disclosures by the media include the tracking of overseas banking records and pattern recognition of phone records. There is evidence that after this information was made public, the terrorists that were being tracked changed their habits, cleaned out their bank accounts, changed to untraceable cell phones, and disappeared.
Let’s see if we can do this the smart way…
Intelligence on terrorists can be gathered without violating anyone’s “rights,” either real or imagined. The perfect example of this is pattern matching. Any data can be analyzed without identifying tags. If a pattern emerges, then a warrant can be obtained (if necessary) to match the data with a name/address/phone number. There are other methods, some hi-tech, some not so hi-tech, which would also provide information, but will not be presented here (how do I know you’re not a terrorist?).
Intelligence can also be shared between countries. This has been done between the United States and Great Britain for years. Other countries like Pakistan have also forwarded information that has resulted in arrests & convictions.
All of the above cannot be effective if our enemy knows what we are doing. The old adage “Loose lips sink ships” is very appropriate. Our media must learn to not disclose information that can be used by the terrorists. This includes what programs our intelligence agencies are using, and what methods are being employed to obtain information. However, I begin to wonder if they will ever exercise self-control.