The Politicization of Security (Re: CRYPTO-GRAM, February 15, 2004)

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Sun Feb 15 13:42:16 PST 2004

At 4:32 AM -0600 2/15/04, Bruce Schneier wrote:
>         The Politicization of Security
>Since 9/11, security has become an important political issue.  The Bush
>administration has seized on terrorism as a means to justify its
>policies.  Bush is running for re-election on a "strong on security"
>platform.  The Democrats are attacking the administration's record on
>security.  Congress has voted on, and will continue to vote on,
>security countermeasures.  And the FBI and the Justice Department are
>implementing others, even without Congressional approval.
>In the last issue of Crypto-Gram I published a couple of security
>essays that had a political component.  I was surprised by the number
>of e-mails I received from people accusing me of bashing Bush (or
>worse).  American politics may be getting vitriolic, but I think it's
>worth stepping back and looking at the political security landscape.
>I believe that the Bush administration is using the fear of terrorism
>as a political tool.  That being said, I'm not sure a Democrat would do
>anything different in Bush's place.  Fear is a powerful motivator, and
>it takes strong ethics to resist the temptation to abuse it.  I believe
>the real problem with America's national security policy is that the
>police are in charge; that's far more important than which party is in
>Some of the Democratic presidential candidates for president have been
>more rational about security, but none have discussed security in terms
>of trade-offs.  On the Republican side, I've read some criticisms of
>Bush's heavy-handed security policies.  Certainly the traditional
>Republican ideals of personal liberty and less government intervention
>are in line with smart security.  And have the people who accuse me of
>hating Republicans forgotten that the Clipper Chip initiative was
>spearheaded by the Clinton administration?
>The Republicans don't have a monopoly on reducing civil liberties in
>the United States.
>Rational security is not the sole purview of any political
>party.  Fighting stupid security does not have to be partisan.  Bush's
>White House has done more to damage American national security than
>they have done to improve it.  That's not an indictment of the entire
>Republican party; it's a statement about the current President, his
>Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland
>Security.  It's a statement about the current political climate, where
>the police -- and I use this term to encompass the FBI, the Justice
>Department, the military, and everyone else involved in enforcing order
>-- and their interests are put ahead of the interests of the
>people.  My personal politics on non-security issues are not relevant.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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