Jim Huggins (jkhuggins) wrote,
Jim Huggins
jkhuggins

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The War on the Unexpected

Bruce Schneier publishes a monthly email newsletter called Crypto-Gram, which covers security issues in general, but with particular emphasis on cryptography (not surprising, since Schneier is a cryptographer).  It's definitely worth reading.

Recently, Schneier has talked about a disturbing trend in our society he calls the "War on the Unexpected".  Basically, if you encounter anything which doesn't seem quite right, it must be a terrorist plot, right?  The consequences of such thinking lead to terribly ridiculous consequences, resources diverted from real security issues ... and perhaps most ominously, the creation of a culture of uniformity and conformity.

The December issue of Crypto-Gram has an amazing number of examples of this.  I'll just reprint the relevant section from the newsletter here:

More "War on the Unexpected."
In Australia, a man was kicked out of a pub for reading a book called "The Unknown Terrorist."
http://www.cairnspost.com.au/article/2007/11/15/4555_news.html
At the US/Canadian border, a fire truck responding to a fire -- with lights and sirens -- was stopped for about eight minutes.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/14/border.firetruck/
Police tasered a man on a Leeds bus when he went into a diabetic coma.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/7096456.stm
A mixture of flour and sugar closed down a Maine airport:
http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071108/NEWS/71108009
or http://tinyurl.com/386hle
A blind calypso musician and his band removed from an airplane:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,2218533,00.html
A Jewish man removed from a train for praying:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3477136,00.html
A bomb squad in Sarasota, Florida, is called in to detonate a typewriter:
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20071203/BREAKING01/71203010
Fear is winning.  Refuse to be terrorized, people.
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/what_the_terror.html
I'd comment ... but the stories themselves do a far better job than I ever could.
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