Bruce is one of my favourite security authors. He has a very macro view of the world and his reasoning on security issues is always well-thought out and pragmatic.

He has written an article on CNET about how he sees the ongoing American dissolution into a police state that is happening right now.

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We need to weigh each security countermeasure. Is the additional security against the risks worth the costs? Are there smarter things we can be spending our money on? How does the risk of terrorism compare with the risks in other aspects of our lives: automobile accidents, domestic violence, industrial pollution, and so on? Are there costs that are just too expensive for us to bear?

 Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn’t really prevent terrorism.
 Unfortunately, it’s rare to hear this level of informed debate. Few people remind us how minor the terrorist threat really is. Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn’t really prevent terrorism. And where’s the debate about what’s more important: the freedoms and liberties that have made America great or some temporary security?

 Instead, the Department of Justice, fueled by a strong police mentality inside the administration, is directing our nation’s political changes in response to Sept. 11. And it’s making trade-offs from its own subjective perspective–trade-offs that benefit it even if they are to the detriment of others.

 From the point of view of the Justice Department, judicial oversight is unnecessary and unwarranted; doing away with it is a better trade-off. They think collecting information on everyone is a good idea because they are less concerned with the loss of privacy and liberty. Expensive surveillance and data-mining systems are a good trade-off for them because more budget means even more power. And from their perspective, secrecy is better than openness; if the police are absolutely trustworthy, then there’s nothing to be gained from a public process.

 When you put the police in charge of security, the trade-offs they make result in measures that resemble a police state.

[…]

 The laws limiting police power were put in place to protect us from police abuse. Privacy protects us from threats by government, corporations and individuals. And the greatest strength of our nation comes from our freedoms, our openness, our liberties and our system of justice. Ben Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Since the events of Sept. 11 Americans have squandered an enormous amount of liberty, and we didn’t even get any temporary safety in return.

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