Terrorism, Individualism, Civil Liberties, and Libertarianism: A Perspective

(Can we still talk about a “Bill of Rights II”?)


E-commerce links for hardcopy of book containing this chapter (DADT 2002).  


In my 1997 book Do Ask, Do Tell, I presented an optimistic future in which the firewall between government and the personal lives and expressions of citizens could be strengthened, possibly by augmenting the Bill of Rights.  Much of my argument was based on expanding notions of personal responsibility.  The libertarian notion of spontaneous order is that a gradually better-educated public will take an interest in understanding how different kinds of people think.

            I also traced historically how, since the end of World War II, American (and, to a large extent, western European) society has become culturally individualistic. Younger people growing up in average economic circumstances now perceive futures in which they may define their own personal expressive agendas without the limitations of class or family—and discrimination—commonplace in the past. Ironically—and this is critical—this form of expressive individualism (as opposed to “survivalism,”  frontierism” or a Luddite attitude) depends upon the interdependencies within a civilization that can make its security vulnerable.  These interdependencies work only in an open society governed democratically under the rule of law, in a non-secular fashion, without dependence on a particular theology. And this form of law depends on a reasonable separation of church and state.

Early in my last DADT chapter I posed the question, “Is it safe?” I was concerned with threats to freedom, all right. I had proposed a paradigm where individualism is authenticated when every person can account for his own acts. But freedom for our culture as a whole had global, collective threats. Even then I saw epidemics, global warming, asteroids and maybe even extraterrestrials (don’t expect them to be as gentle as gifted teenager Clark Kent—Clive Barker’s Pie‘oh’pah is more typical) as conceivable threats.

More seriously, and closer to terra, I suspected military threats from Iraq or Iran, North Korea, China, and a collapse of Russia back towards communism or super-nationalism.  I knew about Osama bin Laden but saw him as only one of many threats, a minor one at that, and I was wrong there. But I was concerned about how one rebuilds a set of principles and firewalls to contain individual freedoms in view of the inevitable threats¾ moral and external¾that would some day come. Freedom could be taken away by external agents despite our best response, or it could be taken away in misguided attempts to protect ourselves. Either scenario was viewed as possible.

Now, as of September 11, 2001, we are at war. And war ultimately threatens the ability of law and an open society to co-exist.

The nature of this new asymmetric war is particularly chilling.  The empowerment of the individual, of the small company, business or organization has its flip side.  To some extent this observation depends upon a certain paradox: as just noted, expressive individualism works in an interconnected society, dependent on an elaborate, open—and vulnerable¾physical and informational infrastructure.

In an interconnected society, individuals may incur tremendous personal losses because of the failures of others (an observation that has underpinned the Luddite movement in the past, to the point of violence, as in the domestic Unabomber case). Individuals and persons working in small autonomous groups may do tremendous, almost apocalyptic, harm as well as innovative good. We leave portals open to an enemy that seems like the social studies equivalent of the HIV virus, a mechanism that feeds upon the very facilities that make society free, open, and productive.

Expressive freedom becomes meaningless in a society that doesn’t have reasonable stability and security—although this statement is itself subject to elaboration later.  Collective self-defense against any major enemy is a prerequisite for freedom. So society as a whole has to learn the social, political and especially legal equivalent of  “safer sex.” by psychological analogy to the gay male community’s challenge starting twenty years ago (and continuing today).  Having written what I have over five years (with the follow-up in Our Fundamental Rights, Bill of Rights 2, and my hppub.com website), I need to provide some discussion of how to balance civil liberties with very serious concerns about public safety.  Of course, it is textbook social studies to say that terrorism, as a political strategy, generally aims at forcing the government of the attacked society to repress its own citizens and curtail civil liberties.  In some sense citizens therefore “share the suffering” and shed their “tainted fruits” regardless of their own individual best intentions.  Terrorism is very much predicated on the idea that the world is a zero-sum game. It denies the importance of individual self-direction and conceives only of group or collective agendas, whether in terms of religion, nationality, or some other cultural idea.

America¾and for that matter, western Europe¾now faces a greater threat on the homeland that it has at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  I witnessed that historical episode at the age of nineteen from the uncertain shelter of a mental health ward in the National Institutes of Health. This near-Armageddon, which I could not have survived, became the subject of the New Line Cinema film 13 Days in 2000.  More civilians were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on our own soil than soldiers who died in any Civil War battle, and it is likely that the War on Terrorism will claim more American civilians than military.  Enormous disruptions to our way of life are possible. Freedom and economic prosperity could be on hold for a generation.  In the most extreme circumstances these disruptions could conceivably bring down the United States government itself.


SEPTEMBER 11, 2001


Yup, this day has that “before and after” quality invented by Randy Shilts when writing about the sudden onset of the AIDS epidemic in And the Band Played On. 

I had dreamed intensely all night long, and got up around 7 AM Minneapolis (Central, one hour behind New York) time.  I worked a bit on my domain while watching ABC “Good Morning America” and enjoyed  Cheerios.  I turned off the idiot box around 7:40 A.M. intending to walk a mere 1000 feet of Skyway to work. I did a little more maintenance on my computer and around 7:50 left the apartment.

 I logged on to my work computer and took care of a couple of small production support problems. Around 8:25 a young woman with whom I normally do not work appeared in my cubicle. She announced that the World Trade Center had been hit by a large plane, and then clarified that both towers had been struck as if they were pedestrians.  I tried to log onto Yahoo and CNN and found the Internet clogged.  I rode downstairs to the operations center where there was a Jumbotron logged on to CNN and  heard that the Pentagon had just been attacked. Even the president had thought that the first plane strike had been accidental but videos of the strike slow very clearly even from Manhattan street level a wide-body commercial jet that could not have crashed unintentionally into a skyscraper.

We were planning a workplace team outing on the Minnesota River that day—which we held anyway—but I quickly walked back to my apartment in the Churchill and tuned in to ABC.  I saw Peter Jennings with the burning, enormous Twin Towers in the background. In maybe three more minutes I saw the South Tower simply disappear in a plume of smoke and ash, even before Jennings knew that it had collapsed. 

I could not peek through the smoke to see the tower structure itself collapse from this view, but later videos on ABC would show the South Tower almost toppling (since it was struck rather lower) with the top thirty floors diving like a kid’s block into smoke before the whole building pancaked to the ground.  The North Tower would implode in a perfect, almost aesthetic symmetry.  The antenna tower plunged straight down as the debris cloud unpeeled off tentacles before forming a huge dust devil or tornado after the collapse was completed.  Later amateur videos would capture the sounds just like enormous dumpsters closing. On the outing we had no further access to information until late afternoon, and we wondered how the hijackings could even have been possible.

In late October I would visit both Arlington, where I grew up, and New York.  I would see the Pentagon devastation on the day of the Marine Corps marathon and spend two hours walking clockwise around the devastation in lower Manhattan. I would pass 100 Church Street, where in 1978 I had worked on a Medicaid project for Bradford, one of the most successful episodes in my whole I.T. career. This building was cordoned off but undamaged.  Soon I would pass sidewalk vendors in masks and view the surreal, almost Strangelove destruction, which became increasingly visible from the south side as I approached Battery Park.  Afterwards, my clothes and skin would stink with the odor of adsorbed hydrogen sulfide from the jet fuel fumes that still raged in the “bathtub.”

I would also walk around the Capitol area and see the police line tapes around House and Senate office buildings from the anthrax scare.  The Supreme Court building was being evacuated as I passed it.

My aunt would tell me that Flight 93 had almost crashed while turning back east, quite low to the ground and almost at treetop level, three miles from the little town of Kipton, Ohio where I had spent my summers as a boy.  This fact had not yet come out in the media, which had left the impression that the turn, before the passengers overtook the hijackers and crashed the plane in the Allegheny strip-mines of southern Pennsylvania, had occurred southeast of Cleveland.

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh would proclaim, “I don’t care why these terrorists did it.  They are nothing but thugs. I just want them brought to justice.”        

But for our own good, we need to understand why they did it. Insurance executives, particularly, have told the press that they thought that American politicians were as shocked as they were that attacks on this scale and with this kind of conspiratorial character (out of the spy novel genre) were even conceivable “in real life” in the American homeland.  As my father told me when I was being thrown out of William and Mary in 1961 for telling the Dean of Men that I was gay, “We have to worry about what everybody thinks,” even when we’re morally right.  Indeed we do.

The stock markets were closed for the rest of that terrible week and there were predictions of economic chaos. In the ensuing months the markets would recover (then flounder again in corporate scandals) even as layoffs rose sharply.  The attacks may have shocked the markets into conceptualizing specific ways to recover, such as through infrastructure investment in security, air traffic control and defense, but some of this behavior is the normal way a business cycle works after a period of over-capacity.  Though still employed as a salaried professional I got a taste of how the perception of my own marketability may have fallen when on Sept. 13 I received a call from a headhunter looking for commercial telemarketers!  




We’ll get into the psychology and religion shortly but it may be possible to explain much about the attacks in terms of more conventional politics. Actually, the world has seen guerilla, tribal, and terrorist warfare before—consider how World War I was launched.

The 9-11 attacks could be seen as an attempt by Osama bin Laden and his Nightbreed minions to force the United States to attack the Islamic world, and start a populist uprising among a huge population of poor, disadvantaged young Muslim men.  The outrage would topple the royal family of Saudi Arabia so—guess who—gets to take over Saudi and the rest of the Islamic world.  Perhaps Osama was throwing a temper tantrum because back in 1990 the Saudi family invited the United States to defend it from Iraq instead of its inviting bin Laden.  By that view, this is mostly an intra-Islam conflict. 

Ironically, falling oil prices in the late 80s could have made the Saudi royal family more vulnerable to fundamentalist and cleric Islamic dissidents.  Even the Israel-Palestine conflict is a bit of a side show, as is bin Laden’s claims about Americans killing Iraqi children.  Actually Saddam Hussein is not particularly friendly to religious fundamentalism, and as of this writing the administration has denied direct evidence that he participated in the attacks, although he probably participated in money laundering operations, clandestine contacts and fomenting unrest among younger Saudi men.

We find that Saudi Arabia is not such a dependable friend.[1] The kingdom paid off blood money to religious clerics of Wahhabism and funded extremist schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan while the western world remains dependent on Saudi oil. Ultimately a shutoff of their oil, maybe much more prolonged than in 1973-1974, becomes a threat.  We leave the rest of the world the impression that we will prop up any authoritarian regime that placates our gas-guzzling addiction. 

The United States helped put the Taliban into power in Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden helped turn back Russia, which left Afghanistan in 1989. The Clinton administration unwisely courted the Taliban because oil interests wanted to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. In its opposition to Communism, our own military advisors would locally ratify the more extremist Islamic idea that Allah pre-ordains one’s assigned station in life, and most unfairly.

It is ironic that the Northern Alliance, seen now as an ally and liberating force, has had close ties to Communism.  In fact, it too has been guilty of atrocities. In 1996 when the Taliban took over, the Taliban were seen as a law-and-order force, albeit one with extremist Islamic principles that would soon run amok.  A permanent government in Afghanistan must represent all the ethnicities (and definitely include women). It is interesting to read the analysis of Afghan immigrant Tamim Ansary, “the email heard around the world,” from Sept. 14, 2001.[2]

The recent tragedies in Israel and the West Bank (as of April 2002) show that some radicals will use any means¾including relentless suicide attacks¾to enforce a collective political goal. The peoples in the Middle East seem deeply rooted in collective tribal and religious identities, and yet the shame that they fight reaches deepest psychological levels.[3]  CNN has reported about a Saudi Telethon where people from Saudi Arabia donate money, perhaps sacrificially, for Palestinians. At this point is was not clear whether any of this money was intended to compensate the families of martyrs. But the media has also reported that underground life insurance operations in the Middle East, particularly Iraq, have subsidized martyrdom.

On June 21, 2002, ABC’s “20-20” with John Miller and Barbara Walters presented a bizarre story that suggested that members of Israeli intelligence photographed the striking and falling of the towers from the parking lot of a New Jersey high rise apartment building. This news story raises the troubling question that Israel might have experienced some bizarre political motive to draw the United States further into Mideast conflict. In late 2001, in fact, Barbara Walters had presented an interview with actor (producer and screenwriter) Matt Damon who related that the incident occurred on his first morning living in his new home in New York City.  His story emphasized that absolutely anyone, no matter how famous or successful, could have become a victim of the tragedy.

Terrorism is sometimes described as the ultimate weapon of the weak, at least those without collectively provided advanced militaries. A terrorist fights with his untrimmed fingernails rather than his fists.




Osama bin Laden’s meandering religious arguments are really interesting. He considers Americans to be soiled, tainted softies, an easier enemy than the Russians. Along these lines, the Taliban has implemented views of gender roles and of the responsibilities of masculinity so draconian as to shock even most social conservatives—to the point of denying that any traditional idea of “family” can confer individuality regardless of station in life. 

Perhaps our policy with Israel is motivated by the political influence of a powerful religious minority, and not by “lifestyle”.  Perhaps we say this even as we looked the other way while Israel violated the property rights (as a libertarian would understand them) of individual Palestinians going back to the time of Balfour. In 1948  Israel enacted legal expropriation of property and collectivization when less than 10% of the land was under Jewish control (Ahmad, discussed shortly[4]), and Israel increased this practice in the 1960s with the West Bank settlements.  But why is it religious heresy for American troops (infidels, including, heaven forbid, female soldiers) to be stationed in the same country as Mecca?  And, well, to bring up the Crusades—does something that happened 800 years ago have to be avenged now?

This gets closer to the argument, made by Andrew Sullivan, by Rolling Stone, and other progressive writers and publications that we ought to take the issues surrounding religious ideology much more seriously.   Christianity at its best supports individualism, even among socially conservative branches (such as Mormonism, Southern Baptists, John Ashcroft’s Assembly of God, and often enough Roman Catholicism). In these sects, individualism is mediated through the socializing influence of the traditional family and acceptance of divine prayer and direction. Judaism does this as well, but with much of Islam the importance of ritual (sometimes to the point of attending to matters like body hair) and a communal faith seems much more central to its teachings. Hence, consorting with unbelievers (infidels) or even allowing them to live in your part of the world could be seen as defiant to Allah.

Christianity and Judaism did inculcate the Greek Socratic tradition of individual truth-seeking that could augment a personalized faith. (The  infidel argument from bin Laden reminds me of the military’s idea that the mere presence of open gays in the ranks destroys unit cohesion.)  Hence, the so-called jihad (if this term is acceptable) must become inevitable.  (I speak in the subjunctive. The word “jihad” has been interpreted to mean a spiritual discipline, as with the well-known case of a Harvard University commencement speaker, as well as a militant misapplication of religious doctrine to gain or expand political control by force.[5])

The December 2001 American Enterprise contains contributions by Karina Rollins, Hillel Fradkin, and David Wurser that present the view of Islam as a publicly celebrated, imperialist religion, that will jump on apparent moral weaknesses of competing infidel societies that it believes it should subjugate, where political control through warrior-like behavior is part of the faith process. On the other hand, Niall Ferguson, writing in the New York Time Magazine, Dec. 2, 2001 places religious terrorism and war in the context of “fragmentation of multicultural polity.”  He conjoined this with globalization of terrorism, a second energy crisis, and “formalization of American imperialism.”  I tend towards more to this second view.  It strikes me as curious that radical Muslim mullahs will state publicly and in a rather bald-faced manner that they aim to establish the superiority of their religion for its own sake. It is also interesting how radical Islam denies democracy as anti-Allah, whereas Judeo-Christian tradition promotes that democracy confers freedom for the individual to follow his own path of faith,

In fact, when addressing the Libertarian Party of Minnesota in April 2002, Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad characterized the history of Islam as one that started with a surprisingly libertarian view of the law, based on supply-side economics. Progressive Islamlic culture became corrupted over centuries by first social benevolence and then statism, and then presented a rather paradoxical view of church, state, and democracy in Islamic philosophy.[6]  Islam had built a rather tolerant and progressive society, after all, in Spain during the first millennium.

On the other hand, there are numerous passages in the Koran, that taken out of context, would seem as vehement as the commandments in Leviticus in Judeo-Christian tradition.[7] A more balanced view of Islam may be available from books like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam,[8] which emphasizes the idea that hatred in the Islamic world is motivated in large part by Western aggression (such as taking land way from Palestinians) rather than religious ideology.

Indeed, libertarian commentators often emphasize that Islamic rage (their young men being “pissed”) is the direct result of our interventions overseas in their largely religious affairs, rather than any aggressive intentions concern our own Western lifestyles. But for a significant portion of Islam, there seems to be an outlook that Islam must either conquer the known civilized world and convert it to Allah, or else sequester itself as if it were on another planet, safely light years away even from electronic influences.

There is an interesting observation that the Buddha statutes, archeological treasures a millennium before Mohammed, became “miners’ canaries” when the Taliban destroyed them in 2000.




Osama bin Laden’s videotaped speech from the Jalalabad Caves on Oct. 7 (the day Bush ordered the bombing to commence) was broadcast worldwide.  Its hatred, fervor and threats were chilling.  It was if an alien intelligence had barged into our networks to sentence us to the Tribulations, even if his argument sound silly when looked at “rationally.” Osama bin Laden has always struck me as a supernatural villain right out of Dean Koontz (not Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler).

And there is the suicide issue.  We learn that in Palestine, Hamas approaches young men and bribes them to do suicide attacks by promising to pay off their families.  Young men are supposed to be fungible, aren’t they?  (Read George Gilder.[9]) In this county, we have ourselves in the past conscripted those who would become cannon fodder. 

So we learn that suicide in war against infidels is supposed to guarantee the young warrior an eternity in heaven. Okay, I can believe that this would appeal to the masses of disadvantaged young Muslim men, especially those educated in the madrassahs.  But how do you explain Mohammed Atta, who lived the jet-set life for several years in Germany, Spain and the U.S. before flying a plane into the North Tower? 

He grew up in relative privilege, almost to the point of spoilage.  Psychiatrists say that he definitely knew what he was doing and understood right and wrong.  Compared to domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, Atta showed little psychiatric instability. Yes, there are reports of his religious devotion, especially when a graduate student in architecture in Germany. But in the end his behavior sounds like an exercise in nihilism, in sociopathy, of quitting when you’re ahead, in suicide intended to make you famous and prevent your growing old in obscurity. 

To me, he sounds not so different from Timothy McVeigh.  It also seems to me that the kamikaze suicide attacks represent a culmination of increasingly bizarre cruelty and violence in a variety of hate-related crimes (the torture murder of Matthew Shepard, then Columbine) that occurred in the previous ten years in our own culture.  Almost any act had again become thinkable.

The idea that the suicide hijackings could have been so cunningly pulled off by a platoon of nineteen men sounds shocking enough. Yet there are other reports of the behaviors of these men that sound shockingly arrogant, casual—the flight school (Atta almost got kicked out), the crop duster business attempts. ABC News reported that Atta apparently tried to get a loan for a crop duster business and that dispersal of chemical or biological weapons was probably his first choice.  The interview with the government employee in Florida with whom Atta spoke was quite chilling.  He first refused to speak to her because she was a woman. But he then spilled to her his cynical attitude towards American cities and landmarks.

Forensic psychologists described clinically the behavior of Osama bin Laden and his co-conspirators  as that of people carrying out “overvalued ideas.” Similar observations have been made about the Unabomber, Jack Kervorkian, and Timothy McVeigh #1.  An associated concept is that of the narcissistic personality, an exaggerated and unjustified sense of self-importance bordering on sociopathy.  The perpetrator know what he is doing and that it is wrong and criminal but believes the expression of his idea and his own recalculation of “morality” against that of society¾particularly of the legal system¾and even of the harm done to others (“collateral damage”) justifies his behavior. 

The perpetrator believes himself to be state-like.  The imprint of the overvalued idea contributes to narcissism, so even a religious conviction—in a setting where religious faith is normally cherished—becomes overvalued if it leads to total disregard and insensitivity to others. The idea that one goes to heaven by killing other non-combatants for Allah is an example.  Only law enforcement or military force can deter such individuals; normal ideas of therapy do not apply because the individual is not clinically ill in a normal clinical sense.  Lesser variations of this behavior would involve doing something for a cause that the actor believes is likely to be viewed as wrong but during which the person does not directly harm others, steal, or commit actual violations of the law.

Moral teaching often involves balancing the hungers of the individual personality with meeting the real needs of others in manners not always chosen.  Sexual morality seems to revolve around the idea that an individual gives up some independence (particularly as tied to experience through sexual excitement) in order to become tied to the requirements of family role and lineage or to meet one’s religious calling.  But religious fanaticism itself can become just as self-serving, a way to avoid family commitments to others or wield power over others. For insecure males fanatical religious ideology, which provides a motivational ideal as well as a group-identity point, can become as pleasurable as sexual pursuits.  Marriage and family can easily become a hiding place from personal responsibility.

Were these attacks really an attack by one country against another, or more of one culture against individuals who practice another?   It’s both.  Osama bin Laden had pretty much hijacked Afghanistan as a state for his own.  His military force (based on Al Qaeda¾also spelled Al Qaida¾ “The Base”) is a loose confederation of semi-autonomous cells that combines individualistic autonomy with collective goals. His method of organizing seems bizarre in modern history but may have been practiced at various points in the past. 

This hits at us in a more personal way, even if our concept of an enemy (like the word “Charlie” used to identify a guerilla enemy in Army Basic) is that of a collective entity.  In his mind, the American government, the corporate state and citizens who enjoy its tainted fruits are one in the same.  (We see that kind of thinking from the radical left.)  But in the barest psychological terms, fundamentalist Islam seems to be defending a culture of exaggerated patriarchy where otherwise insecure men remain in control of their families and even harems. 

Our idea of contagious freedom very much threatens that control.  Even George Gilder would agree.  Jonathan Rauch points out that leftist egalitarian nihilism and presumably rightist hierarchic religious extremism make temporary bedfellows in their common desire to attack the smugness of western individualism and even democratic capitalism[10]. 

Another way to look at this is to say that western openness and its tendency to broadcast its cultural pluralism will, in the minds of some people, threaten the very idea of using religious faith—especially when practiced as a public ritual—as the ultimate umpire of moral issues and as a brake against the individual competitiveness that implies that some people must accept “failure” on their own.[11]  Western cultural openness, in this view, pokes fingers into the eyes of those of faith. 

In the Spring of 2002, The Weekly Standard presented some more pointed interpretations. David Brooks would describe a social phenomenon of collective sweet lemons and sour grapes (I forget which term applies) as “bourgeoisophobia¾a self-righteous smug hatred of seemingly superficial, sometimes narcissistic commercial success comparable to the hatred of sissies or geeks by bullies,[12] and Dinesh D’Souza would characterize a religious tradeoff between virtue (and submission to Allah¾religious authority) and freedom (with democracy, as well as acceptance of competition and failure) from the viewpoint of radical Islam.[13] Remember not all of Islam is ideologically so focused.

To me, the rage seen by some religious fundamentalists (and not just Muslims) seems to indicate a fear of psychological emasculation or loss of old-fashioned masculinity among men who depend upon control of their women and lineage for their sense of self worth. The “do ask, do tell” philosophy of gays’ coming out (as in the military) and fighting for rights to be open corresponds to America’s openness about its complicated culture (which is both materialistic and spiritual) and its tendency to boast (through movies, music and the Internet, even with sites like mine) in parts of the world unprepared to benefit easily from it. 

On December 9, 2001, major news sources reported that a videotape exists in which Osama bin Laden is commenting on the September 11 attacks as they occur, and that bin Laden had not expected the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to collapse to the ground, but only to the point of impact.  On December 13, 2001 the tape was shown. It betrays a sadistic delight in the mayhem and in the fact that many of the Al Qaeda foot soldiers on the hijackings did not know that these were to be suicide missions. 

It is not clear that the video was intended to be published and it would not be suitable for excerpted inclusion in a commercial documentary film (say, one built upon the experiences of various journalists).  Again, it is very difficult for me to believe that this kind of psychopathology could be associated with any legitimate experience of religious faith, that it could be fundamental to Islam; it seems more to be fundamentally evil, as Laura Schlessinger of D. Scott Peck (“People of the Lie”) would construe it.

Many commentators would offer particularly succinct statements as to what makes the terrorists tick, either from a “mean streak” (a phrase my own father liked to use) or essentially political motives. Salman Rushdie writes, “The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his worldview, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences.” Indeed, there are people, bound to creationism, who believe that teaching evolution undermines our ability to believe; some people perceive faith as necessarily and morally connected to narrow-mindedness and an unwillingness to receive more points of view.

Blaine and Robert Trump write, “Terrorist groups and rogue nations wish to defeat those different from themselves, those who hold different beliefs and are tolerant of others. Terrorists believe that the end justifies the means – any means.”  Indeed, terrorists deny any possibility of peaceful coexistence.

Bill Moyers writes, “But their real goal is to get inside our heads, our psyche, and to deprive us – the survivors—of peace of mind, of trust, of faith; they aim to prevent us from believing again in a world of mercy, justice, and love, or working to bring that better world to pass.” Shashi Tharoor writes, “On September 11, 2001, the 21st Century was born… The terrorists failed to see their victims that way; they saw only objects, dispensable pawns in their drive for destruction.”[14]

Yet Noam Chomsky, in a little booklet “9/11”[15] would offer a quite leftist interpretation half blaming global capitalism as well as previous American aggression, which he sees as having been reversed with shocking effect  Mainland American had not been attacked by a foreign power since the War of 1812.        

Our own president characterized the psychopathology by saying, “They hate those who are not like them.”  It’s interesting to hear our own conservative right speak out against forced conformism.





            Please understand that what follows is a hypothetical, conjectural discussion. It is not a prediction.  I do not at this time have secret or specific knowledge of threats.  But I am worried.  There is much that should be done to further defend again homeland threats (as was outlined in detail in a fall 2001 Newsweek). But it is also essential to eliminate all major operating cells overseas and evict from power all regimes that support them.  There is really no choice about this. The administration is right about this.

            Captured Al Qadea training manuals have underscored the determination of the enemy to enforce its views with asymmetric warfare and with an incredible amount of personal discipline required of members, including absolute secrecy and willingness to die as a religious martyr.  One interesting point for an author and self-publisher like me is that the manuals are largely hand-written and were not efficiently printed, even though the organization obviously had the means to publish the manuals with economic efficiency.  Lessons in the training camps often contained much oral memorization, and the lack of duplication was part of the secrecy plan.

            On June 3, 2000, the Arab newspaper Al-Hayat quoted Sulaiman Abu Gaith as saying that more massive attacks on Americans and Jews were coming soon, and that they would exceed September 11. But the website (alneda.com) did not work.  ABC News (using Associated Press reports) and “Good Morning America” made this a leading story that morning. Abu Gaith is a former Kuwaiti citizen who became associated with Al Qaeda. 



It is the evil determination of these terrorists and the vehemence of their compulsive destructiveness, when viewed psychologically, that forces us to assess the likelihood of future large-scale attacks and what would happen to our society if they were to occur.

To put things bluntly, the most grave threat is the nuclear one.  This threat must be put into perspective.  According to credible reports from Russian security advisors in the mid 1990s, over eighty Russian “suitcase nukes” (small nuclear weapons with heavy hydrogen detonation devices) are unaccounted for. Twenty-four more could be stolen from a volatile Pakistan. A suitcase nuke would vaporize an area the size of a baseball field and severely damage several square miles as well as permanently contaminate a much larger area downwind.

According to one report from the Center for Defense Information, over eighty of these weapons could be unaccounted for from stocks in Russia (they may be of varying size). Through the black market they could certainly fall into the wrong hands and someday be smuggled into the United States.[16]  But it is likely that none of these devices could be detonated, as the tritium cores would have aged (although some military intelligence people tell me privately that terrorists could design crude replacements for these cores).[17] 

A more likely plausible scenario would be the launching of “dirty bombs,” conventional truck bombs laced with radioactive materials like uranium compounds, plutonium, or, perhaps more easily, materials related to medical use like cesium. On Dec. 3, 2001, the government admitted that Al Qaeda may be closer to developing dirty bombs than had been thought, and that they could have them in the United States, Saudi Arabia, or Europe. 

Some of these, even with small detonations, could contaminate an area, enough to prevent rescue operations and cleanup.  An area of some square miles (for example, around the White House or the Capitol) would be unusable commercially or residentially for decades or even centuries.  Exposed people would be condemned to premature deaths from leukemias, lymphomas and lung cancers.[18]  Dirty bombs are colloquially called “weapons of mass disruption,” and many commentators claim that the actual health risks will be much less than what the media speculates.  But the economic and ultimate long-term personal impact is so great that they should be regarded as weapons of mass destruction.[19]  Terrorists could conceivably start a series of explosions, perhaps one per day or week, until political demands on the United States (like withdrawal from Saudi Arabia) were met. Supermarket tabloids (ironically the first targets of the anthrax attacks in October) love to warn that terrorists will attack and attack again whatever we do. (And, as films like The Sum of All Fears and Bad Company point out, other groups outside the Muslim world, such as neo-Nazis or various ethnic nationalists, might be capable of such nefarious intentions.)

However, it seems most unlikely given current evidence that many terrorists could have access to such weapons.[20]  They would be extremely difficult for individuals or small cells to manipulate covertly without detection by law enforcement or without killing themselves. Most of the terrorists are of the “foot soldier” variety. Even so, to play devil’s advocate, journalist Peter Bergen warned on MSNBC  on November 30, 2001 that cells could be poised to deliver dirty weapons in a major event at the time that Osama bin Laden is captured or killed, a possibility that could lead the government to keep his death a secret and may help explain the government’s aggressive use of “voluntary” roundup and interrogation.

A major piece in Time (3/11/2002)[21] relates an apparently unreliable report of a major Al Qaeda plot to smuggle a 10-kiloton nuclear device into New York City and suggests that future  plots could be impossible to stop if terrorists are really determined. To their credit, the Customs Service and other law enforcement agencies are rapidly improving technology to detect routinely all kinds of dangerous cargo. The Time article also says that a coastal city could be destroyed by a liquefied natural gas explosion just off shore and questions whether current airline security technology could detect all hidden explosives. 

On April 10, 2002, former Prime (Israel) Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the U.S. Senate that, just as the case with repeated Palestinian one-person suicide bombing attacks in Israel, suicide street-level bombings in public spaces, malls, theaters, or on subways, trains or busses could occur within the United States. He speculated that they could be coupled with weapons of mass destruction.  Possibly random sniper attacks in the autumn of 2002 could be related to terrorist cells.

On April 22, 2002, a top Al Qaeda in military custody named Abu Zubaydah (the reporters did not say whether this was at Guantanomo, Cuba) taunted investigators with claims that the terrorist group is indeed very close to being able to build a dirty bomb and smuggle it into the United States.  However, he may have been bragging to incite panic or to get more lenient treatment.[22]   In June 2003 the government reported the military detention of American citizen Abdullah Al Muhajir (born Jose Padilla) who apparently was plotting to build a small dirty bomb and explode it in Washington, D.C. (this is discussed later).  Reader’s Digest published a fictitious but convincing scenario of how a dirty plutonium bomb could be planted in a large city by a terrorist (after smuggling materials from Russia) and how law enforcement would respond.[23]  

Even purely conventional weapons could create havoc if used in subways or commuter trains. Even now security metal inspections are done for the Chunnel train between London and Paris/Brussels, and Americans face the difficult task of deciding whether we need to beef up detection on trains in our country. The worst thing about all of these explosives threats is that they can be launched covertly on the ground. They do not require planes or large platoon-sized teams.

A week before the Sept 11 attacks, Popular Science came out with an article claiming that inexpensive E-bombs (electromagnetic pulse) and flux compression generator bombs could be built by terrorists very cheaply. The claim was made that the whole country could be set back two hundred years by one blast.  I sent an email about this to ABC Nightline, and a couple days later ABC posted a more temperate write-up on the issue. Ground “FCG” bombs (depicted at Las Vegas in the 2001 film Oceans 11) could not damage large areas, and data centers and communications centers could protect themselves with Faraday cages. 

A more serious threat could be a high-altitude FCG explosion from a plane (or perhaps a small nuclear explosion).  This observation means that it is imperative that airlines (or the federal government) begin screening all checked luggage as soon as possible (in advance of the November 19, 2002 deadline), even with decompression tests. Airlines will face other sudden challenges, such as the need to examine shoes (in light of an incident over the Atlantic in December) and the opportunity to use heat-sensing devices or pupilometrics as lie detection when asking security questions.

The difficulty of designing convincing defenses to all of these threats (along the lines or libertarianism) would, in my mind, I feel, justified the Bush administration’s idea that overseas terrorist cells must be eliminated, along with the foreign regimes (like the Taliban and arguably Iraq) that support them. The administration’s claim that terrorism is “non deterable” rings true.  Of grave importance is tracking down nuclear (and, as below, biological and chemical) weapons anywhere in the world (as outlined in a recent Economist issue). And they will give considerable justification to domestic surveillance measures intended to detect and remove the cells. 

We simply must not allow  such attacks to happen.  If they did, with major areas of the country uninhabitable or unusable, we really would loose our civil liberties as we know them (imagine the first day of national martial law).  Libertarians have suggested that withdrawal from the Middle East should be done to remove the incentive terrorists have to make these threats.[24] But imagine an Osama bin Laden ruling Saudi Arabia (even assuming that we become independent of Arab oil) with access to nukes.  Why would he not pursue his jihad, his compulsion now to convert the planet to Islam? Would such a regime be so irrational as to destroy the oil fields in some pretense of piety?

These possibilities are so horrifying that President George W. Bush now has enlarged his doctrine to stop not only those regimes that harbor terrorists or allow them to function but also those countries attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction.[25]  Along the lines of this argument, the debate over preemptively removing Saddam Hussein from power seems to be motivated more by the idea that Saddam, once he acquires nuclear weapons, will be able to attack and blackmail his neighbors than by any evidence of his direct involvement in 9-11, although it is likely that he was quite involved in money laundering and, as discussed below, some journalists believe that he could already be implicated in our anthrax attacks with his history of chemical attacks against his own people, the Kurds. He has financially supported suicide attacks in Israel and probably foments social unrest within Saudi Arabia.

The attacks would, in at least one case to date, inspire tragic copycat behavior, when teenager Charles Bishop flew a light plane into a bank building in Tampa, Florida.




So far the country has experienced five deaths from anthrax.  The pattern of anthrax by mail had not been predicted, but it might give clues to the terrorist motives.

In 1999, in fact, ABC’s “Nightline” had rehearsed a scenario where terrorists release anthrax in a city subway system, and, given the unpreparedness of the public health system, 50000 deaths and total ruination of the city happen within a week.  ABC would repeat an abbreviated version of this scenario on Friday, Oct. 5.  I would get into a rather bizarre discussion of this right afterwards at a local gay bar in Minneapolis.

On Oct 10, authorities (led by U.N. inspector Richard Spertzel) reported that the Daschale letter contained professionally milled anthrax dust, more dangerous than the anthrax recovered from a letter received by Tom Brokaw a week before. It sounded like a terrorist playing games with us and planning the big one. So I angrily emailed ABC news and asked Koppel about the Oct. 5 broadcast. The next night Koppel interviewed HHS secretary Tommy Thompson and, referring to angry viewer concerns (like mine) over his earlier broadcast, reviewed the possibility of a mega-threat. Thompson tried to reassure the public that the public health service was now ready.

The evidence so far is that the incubation period for anthrax is much longer than had been expected, and that even inhalation anthrax (milder forms are gastrointestinal and cutaneous) is much more treatable than had been expected. Of course, we are not absolutely sure of the long-term prognosis for exposed people after they finish antibiotics.  It also appears that elderly people are much more susceptible to smaller inhalations of spores. In time, the same observation may be found to apply to persons with reduced immune systems, such as those who are HIV-positive.  This, along with mail cross-contamination, may explain some of the bizarre outlier cases encountered so far. 

Authorities differ on whether finely milled anthrax potions could be made by domestic Unabomber-style terrorists. Preparation is supposed to be technically difficult and achievable only by governments. Because of reports of a meeting by Mohammed Atta with an Iraqi intelligence agent in 1999, there is considerable suspicion that the anthrax preparations could have been smuggled from Iraq. If so, this raises the grave possibility that Saddam Hussein is trying to wage covert asymmetric war with biological weapons. This would necessitate his removal from power after all. 

Former congressman “B-1” Bob Dornan (no friend of my community) warned that Hussein would eventually try to mount huge casualties on the United States if allowed to stay in power. There are detractors from this view, however, such as former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter who made the film In Shifting Sands (2001). The very recent stories about Mohammed Atta’s interest in obtaining funds for crop dusters reinforce the idea that anthrax or other biological or chemical weapons were available to him from overseas, especially Iraq.

But The New York Times, on Nov. 21, 2001, reported about a book by anti-government activist Timothy W. Tobiason on how to make anthrax and other biological and chemical weapons.  Although its directions are reportedly inaccurate and crude, the book suggests that it may be conceivable that a homegrown terrorist (an individual sociopath like the Unabomber) could achieve such a production. The press has reported a USDA facility at the University of Iowa where a deadly preparation has existed since the 1950s (as it has at other universities) and this facility is easily viewed to the west of I-35, 30 miles north of Des Moines.  Just before Christmas, the FBI reported that the anthrax could have come from a top-secret site in Nevada or in Ohio, and that a particular domestic scientist was under investigation.[26]

If a terrorist had expected to cause mass casualties with anthrax, it seems that he has run out of time. Even a subway attack would likely be observed by police, resulting in shutdown (maybe an immediate arrest) and there would be much more time for preventative treatment than had been expected. Still, it would be prudent for American metro systems to start putting in hardened plastic suicide panels like those in London and Paris to prevent materials from being thrown onto tracks in front of trains.

While addressing a convention of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota in April 2002, state representative Richard Mulder, M.D. (Republican, also a family physician) suggested that a substantial number of domestic research professionals probably have access to anthrax and the technical capability to mill it into a lethal weaponized form. This claim contradicts major media reports, and wind would quickly disperse almost any conceivable outdoor release of an agent.

Another medical professional here told me, however, that manufacture was extremely difficult indeed and that most likely the perpetrators had simply run out of their supply and could not replace it.  In April 2002 David Tell provided a detailed examination of the anthrax investigation to date, and again keeps alive the strong possibility that the anthrax really did come from Iraq or Russia.[27] 

I had a conversation in, of all places, the Saloon (a Minneapolis gay night club) with Minneapolis mayor Sharon Sayles Belton.  She indicated that the biggest fears from public health officials now were smallpox and plague. One could add botulism toxin to this list, since this substance is by weight one of the deadliest known.  But in two months the public health system has made considerable progress in rapidly building up vaccine re-stocks to use in the event of even one smallpox case.  Even now, unless there were a large number of index cases in a short time, it should be possible to isolate the victims and vaccinate large numbers of contacts.  

Laurie Garrett provided a sobering discussion of bio-terrorism in the December 2001 issue of Vanity Fair. Other possible agents include botulism, and the Marburg and Ebola viruses. In 1978 Stephen King wrote a novel, The Stand, where a government  experiment accidentally creates a “superflu” virus that kills 99% of the world’s population.  As of this writing, there is no clear-cut way a sexually transmitted disease like HIV could be weaponized to produce rapid casualties, although in the 1980s some people actually suspected that HIV resulted from bio-engineering aimed at gay men and other groups.

There have been close to a hundred arrests for anthrax “hoaxes,” including those where persons have placed harmless powders in mail pieces, or even posted jokes on their own properties in connection with Halloween.  The simple act of assembling a mail piece could conceivably pose a risk for accidentally creating the appearance of a hoax.  This seems almost Kafla-esque,  but in time of war sometimes extreme penalties are necessary, just as laws regarding jokes at airports must be enforced rigorously.

I do not have any specific knowledge of secret or unapproved treatments for biological, chemical or nuclear agents.




As already noted, many observers feel that the Al Qaeda attacks were directed more at the United States government or large visible corporations as retaliation for American foreign policy. Others feel that the attacks are directed against American lifestyle values that encourage a tainted self-expression and differentiation outside of religion (and these values are connected to democracy, which radical Islam may view as idolatrous). 

At the same time an authoritarian, static religious hierarchy would prevent infidels from hiding behind secular institutions (even marriage) and having things that they do not deserve.  Recent FBI reports suggest that terrorists could target ordinary Americans in lifestyle-related places: public spaces, theaters, subways, hotels, apartment residences, and shopping malls. One advantage for terrorists might be the relative lack of security in most such spaces and the possibility that a low-tech attack could cause enormous disruptions.

Already theaters in some metropolitan areas have banned backpacks and containers, and some public concerts (like ‘Nsync) were conducting entry security before 9-11. Apartment property managers now generally check passports and visas or ID’s from rental applicants carefully, and Hotels generally require passports from foreign tourists. If terrorists were able to undermine the confidence that ordinary Americans (and Europeans, Canadians, etc.) can carry out their own lives (and retain their own “secular” personal motivations), the economy and government would, in their view, become undermined. But this is already being tried in Israel big time.

In mid May, 2002, major press sources (including Time and Newsweek) ran detailed stories as to whether the Bush administration had not come clean about what it may have known before 9-11-2001, or whether it had failed to connect the dots.   The CIA and FBI had a variety of leads, some of which pointed to more conventional terrorism (taking hostages for political negotiation) and others which frankly suggested suicide attacks and ramming planes into buildings. If you combine their intelligence with what various journalists had known since the late 1990s, there is little question that we should have foreseen this kind of attack. The government does not seem sanguine that future attacks can be prevented.

Particularly galling, apparently, is the way the FBI shelved (and perhaps manipulated) the memo from Minneapolis FBI agent Coleen Rowley in August 2001 regarding the handling of Zacarias Moussaoui.[28]  Then Newsweek would report on the failure of the CIA to properly pass on information about future hijackers attending a terrorits’ meeting in Malaysia in early 2001.[29] On May 29, 2002 the FBI announced a large reorganization and administrative rules changes that would allow FBI agents to attend and monitor public spaces and public Internet sites (including mine).  Of course, a writer who self-publishes should welcome anyone (including law enforcement) to read his publicly available work. In early June President Bush asked Congress to help him create a cabinet department for Homeland Security (parallel to Treasury, Justice and Defense). 

The ensuring debate emphasized that the FBI may have had the raw data that it needed, but it lacked  the analytical and information technology methods to relate tips. 




There is no question that government is going to be much more involved in homeland national security than we had ever expected, and libertarians will not be comfortable with this.  Already, federal laws have been passed that require most airport security scanners to become federal employees (without the usual civil service protections). Billions will be spent on various national defense and cyber security projects, and in sanitizing and protecting the mail. Government will become much more visible as an employer (both of military, civilian civil service and contractors), and background investigations and security clearances will become much more important as employment issues. 

Training and compensating passenger security screening people as professionals is certainly a welcome and necessary step (to be paid for by passengers), but this measure raises a subtle issue about background checks. The requirements that screeners (and other airport employees with access to secure areas) be citizens and perhaps pass rather invasive questioning may become controversial.

There will be passenger concerns about invasion of privacy, particularly with pat-down body searches (where there are now, in early 2002, scattered complaints of abuses) as well as see-through technology. The government will allow passengers to be screened by employees with the same gender, but what about passengers (hopefully few) who might expect reassurance that a screener is not gay? This raises questions reminiscent of the military gay ban in suddenly important civilian security jobs (although these concerns have been visited before in areas like medicine and patient examinations).

Government is also involved in bailouts of industries disproportionately affected by terrorism, especially airlines and insurance industries. These settlements may have been designed to limit the airlines’ exposure to litigation, especially in that one can claim that the government was really the terrorists’ intended target and that government shared heavily in the failure to prevent the attacks with proper coordination of intelligence.  Businesses have taken the (questionable) position that the attacks were primarily aimed at government and that therefore government should indemnify businesses and citizens against the tremendous losses. 

Libertarians have debated whether the tort system would be adequate to handle the liability issues that stem from the attacks. Insurance coverage for the enormous damage done by terrorists probably will not be available without government backing.  The attacks seem counter to the idea of urban culture and high-density living and working, so important to an open, pluralistic culture. Negligence tort law will have to evolve in areas like determining what kinds of risks businesses and governments can anticipate.

Immigration is an obvious target among libertarian “political quiz” positions.  Government will enforce immigration law much more vigorously, and persons of Middle-Eastern origin will be unfairly singled out. 

But the biggest problems regard government actions that jeopardize the privacy, due process, and free speech of ordinary citizens.  The proper balance in these matters, especially in regard to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, must be examined closely.  Furthermore, the sensible expectations of both businesses and of individuals in this changed world of asymmetric war must be elucidated.

In October 2001 Congress passed the USA Patriot Act with little debate. The act’s full name is The Uniting and Strengthening of America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.  In this act, law enforcement was given new powers and means for surveillance (with techniques like pen registers) of telephone calls, emails, and web surfing with greatly reduced judicial supervision.  There is at least a slight risk (the “Daniel Ellsburg problem”) that even the physical residences and offices (including computer hard drives) of ordinary citizens could be searched (and damaged) with less court supervision then in the past, when terrorism—with a rather expansive definition to include most asymmetric violent threats and even computer crime—is suspected. 

Electronic Frontier Foundation has produced a thorough and critical analysis of this law at its web site [30]; there are genuine constitutional questions about possible abrogations of the 4th and 5th Amendments in the legislation.  More important may be the practical questions. Most ordinary Americans, even those like me who are politically or vocally active in a civil and responsible manner probably won’t be compromised right now.  But the slope is indeed slippery. 

In the beginning, those targeted are likely to be mostly those of Middle Eastern origin, mostly non-citizens, and they will sometimes be arrested for trivial law violations. Down the road you have a scenario where persons suspected of unproven terrorist associations are picked up and held for, say, marijuana possession.

It is a well-known law enforcement principle, effectively practiced in New York by Giuliani) that you prevent big crimes (violence and burglary) by cracking down on the little ones, (graffiti, vandalism, speeding, minor drug offenses, soliciting prostitution). Police statistics in many cities support this idea. But applied to terrorism the dangerous implications are clear.  What if down the road gays become politically vulnerable, and spreading a fatal sexually transmitted disease is equated to terrorism? 

There has even been a controversy over seeking checkout records from public libraries of weapons-related books, at least in Florida. State laws generally protect the confidentiality of records of what public library patrons check out.  It does seem that most public libraries would not carry books that they knew gave very explicit directions on how to deploy or build weapons of mass destruction.  Most responsible publishers or web operators will not supply such information (I do not). The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and more recently the American Library Association report that the government can even demand that libraries and booksellers provide the names of persons who have borrowed purchased books on certain kinds of weapons.[31] 

The government maintains that, under the Patriot Act, it will only seek such records (or comparable internet records from ISP) concerning individuals for whom there is a limited probable cause of suspicion for involvement in terrorist conspiracy.  Libraries, booksellers and ISP’s are required to keep such lists secret.  Some of this disclosure attempt reminds one of the “know your customer” requirements in banking, but in the intellectual property world such requirements would have a chilling effect on speech.

Surveillance issues continue to mount.  There are scattered reports of individuals being investigated by the FBI or Secret Service for possessing literature or posters extremely disparaging to the president.[32]  In July 2002 the government announced that it wanted to expand its volunteer TIPS program to enlist various workers (even postal workers) who often enter homes and businesses or deliver items as possible informants, and this obviously raises genuine Fourth Amendment and probably cause issues; many individuals receive items like ads for weapons because of indirect marketing association.  

It may be acceptable (although maybe only after a constitutional amendment) to reduce the standard for probable cause specifically for terrorist offenses alone. Terrorism would be defined as the intentional infliction of injury or loss of life upon non-combatants within the United States or allied countries as a political or social protest. By this principle, information gathered by pen-registers or by Carnivore  (without normal juridical oversight) could not be used for drug prosecutions or even for something like child pornography¾only for terrorism.

Conservatives maintain that terrorist motives increase the justification for the death penalty (and sometimes military tribunals) in violent crimes. If so, hate crime sentencing could logically be looked at for increased penalties, even though conservatives and libertarians have resisted hate crimes laws on the theory that they make a criminal sentence dependent upon the victim rather than the act itself

Despite the claims of the 2002 movie Collateral Damage, there seemed at first to be little connection between the drug cartels and terrorists. Some news accounts credit the Taliban with cracking down on opium growing while they were in power, but others have accused them of taking advantage of the trade. However in time connections are likely to be shown. In November 2002 the attorney general announced several indictments for drugs for big-time weapons deals. But then you have a situation where drug laws, by creating an enormous profit incentive, set up a situation where terrorists could build alliances and cover. Drug laws could actually be seen as counter to the best interests of national security. Drug enforcement resources could be spent specifically on detecting weapons of mass destruction.

And let us again consider weapons and screening.  Many of the new airport security measures will make little difference. The simple fact is that had pilots been allowed to arm themselves (even just with stun guns), had air sky marshals been on every flight, and had cockpit doors been reinforced and locked before September 11, these kinds of attacks simply could not have happened, although in time other kinds of attacks probably would have. (Some accounts report that pilots were drawn out of the cockpits to come to the aid of flight attendants.)  Even among passengers the capacity for self-defense has gained new public respect.  Todd Beamer and gay rugby player and body builder Mark Bingham, by attacking the hijackers, helped prevent the last plane from making it to Washington and crashing into the Capitol.  Otherwise the Air Force would have had to shoot the plane down, leading to another horrible spectacle. Barron’s has called for the posting of two armed air marshals on every domestic flight (not just those using Reagan National in Washington) as an economic necessity.[33] In July 2002 Congress was still debating arming pilots. Not even Israel does this.

European airport security has long been much tighter than American security, to the point that I had to be body-searched in Amsterdam because of a metal plate in my hip. Yet there is little sense of intrusion or inconvenience at the major European airports where better security has become efficient. No, we probably don’t need the profiling and intensive interviews of Israeli airport security. But one wonders how we got to the point that box cutters and knives could be carried on board airplanes when discos and rock concerts screen attendees for all weapons.

Would a national-ID system or international system with a biometric base make travel and entry to sensitive areas safer? It might reduce identity theft but it might also lead us to confuse identification with trustworthiness.[34]

In November, President Bush would add controversy by ordering that the United States have the capacity to try foreign terrorists with military tribunals.  These military judicial procedures offer reduced due process, less protection of habeas corpus, information for defendants, attorney-client privilege, unanimous verdicts, standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, lack of right of appeal, dependence upon the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and the like (and the protections of the accused may even be less than usual in the U.S. military, such as the right to know full details of the charges).

Originally, this measure could not apply to non-citizens.  I think that it should not apply to citizens fighting in foreign armies whether as mercenaries or because of personal ideology. Citizens should always have the full protection of the procedures of the normal criminal justice system.  However, as noted above, on June 10, 2002 the government announced that it was holding a US citizen Abdullah Al Muhajir (born Jose Padilla) in military custody as an unlawful combatant. Investigation showed that he had allegedly been communicating with Al Qaeda in Pakistan. This “coronary bypass” of normal civilian procedural due process is argued to be constitutional according to the powers given Congress (Article I, Section 8) and the Executive to conduct war, maintain the armed forces and militia. (It appears that U.S. citizens who are deemed as unlawful combatants might be held during an armed conflict without charge, although it appears questionable that they can actually be tried under the UCMJ by military tribunals unless they are actually in the uniformed armed forces of another country or have formally lost citizenship.)  Some scholars point out that only Congress has this power, however, and that the President has overstepped his bounds in issuing this order on his own.

Of course, one has to accept the idea that the war against terrorism, conducted on the home front, is still war in the domestic legal sense.  It is difficult to argue with the need to keep judicial proceedings related to supposed terrorist plots secret as part of further intelligence operations, or even to protect juries or trials from becoming terrorist targets.  Again, you have to define foreign terrorism as war and foreign terrorists as combatants.

Even more disturbing is the detention of up to 5000 foreign nationals without charge. (Is this, “do what you have to do but don’t tell me?”)  Remember the mistakes of the past, too, the internment of the Japanese Nisei during World War II. 

Civil libertarians like Julian Epstein have already pointed out that existing laws such as FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) provide a mechanism to conduct constitutionally fair trials with proper protections for the accused as well as protection of  intelligence.  Epstein also points out (on CNN) that although Bush’s  order originally (until Padilla) applied only to non-citizens, the Supreme Court has previously said that this kind of order is possible even for citizens who behave as foreign combatants (despite constitutional procedural due process [Amendments 5, 6, and 14] provisions), and a future president could possibly enact such a measure against citizens as a “drug exception to the Bill of Rights.” What then about public health?

In December 2001 the Bush administration narrowed the order to guarantee that unanimous verdicts are still required for the death penalty and that most other procedural safeguards, other than rules regarding hearsay evidence, would be followed in the tribunals.  But it also has held at least one citizen (Padilla) as an unlawful combatant without charge.

The New York Times has presented analysis that divides the most serious constitutional problems into three areas: (1) Secrecy in the courts, especially with respect to immigration violations; (2) the detention of material witnesses for a long time before any criminal charges; (3) the indefinite length of some detentions (of at least two United States citizens) as unlawful combatants, with compromised legal representation, with a ruling by the Fourth Circuit affirming the commander in chief’s right to detain combatants who take up arms against the United States.[35]

The trial—which will be a conventional civilian trial with due respect for classified information procedures-¾of  Zacarias Moussaoui  may provide an object lesson in the standard of evidence needed to hold someone. Moussaoui, recall, was arrested in August 2001 in Minnesota on immigration violations after suspicious behavior at a flight school. As noted in the Rowley memo, the FBI, three weeks before the attacks, did not find legal probable cause to look at his computer hard drive.

Hindsight here must be painful.  No amateur would have interest just in steering a jetliner unless he had intended to bring one down upon a target; that’s common sense. The government already knew a lot about Osama bin Laden from his attacks in Africa and Yemen, and the World Trade Center had been attacked in a clumsy way in February 1993 (ironically about the same time that the military gay ban debate erupted in the new Clinton administration) by someone with distant ties to bin Laden.

Furthermore, a number of journalists such as Sebastian Junger (US) and Peter Berger (Britain) had traveled to Afghanistan and other trouble spots to study terrorists and especially Osama bin Laden, other Al Qaeda leaders and the Taliban, including the war against it by the Northern Alliance.  Junger and Bergen have often discussed the strategic importance of Massoud, assassinated Sept. 9, 2001, in helping bring down the Soviet Union. The work of these journalists suggests a developing privately held but well published concern that “organized terrorism” would take truly sinister turns.  Ted Koppel had long aired broadcasts on bioterrorism.  It was not asking too much for the government to consider all of this together and realize that the Moussaoui arrest in August amounted to a national emergency. How many of us private citizens with moderate levels of political involvement might have gotten bizarre emails, which we deleted as junk without reading them, that might have been disguised attempts by plotters to find out if their plans were leaking?  I recall two such emails.

The charges against American John Walker Lindh have produced controversy.  Many Americans resent the way that he seemed to thumb his nose at the freedom with which he was apparently raised. In one brief interview, Walker indicated he had been speaking mostly Arabic for months before his discovery and that most Muslims seek martyrdom  (not objectively true). Some people wanted to charge him with treason, but this criminal conviction (usually reserved for defected agents like Aldrich Ames in 1994) requires, according to the Constitution, direct testimony by two witnesses of overt acts or confession in open court.

Attorney General Ashcroft filed serious charges calling for life without parole, and Ashcroft talks as if Walker made deliberate choices to fight with an enemy of America.  However, it sounds unlikely that Walker could have grasped the consequences of what he was doing when he moved about in Yemen and Pakistan to follow what he saw as a demanding spiritual practice. His case will raise serious conceptual questions ranging from freedom to worship to the meaning of loyalty. (In July 2002 Lindh pleaded guilty to two counts for a twenty year sentence, and as part of the agreement he was told he could be held as an unlawful combatant if he ever engages in terrorist associations after his release.)

Much closer to home are concerns over freedom of speech. No, not just surveillance of personal emails, but also the possibility that cottage self-publishing on the Internet and in books could be perceived as a security threat  Perhaps this is an exaggerated concern.  After all, a message board, book, or website is out in the open, so how can it be a threat to security? 

There are several concerns. The largest concern is steganography, the practice of sending coded messages with simple images or slogans (as was common with runners in ancient times) or of hiding complex instructions in encrypted links hidden behind innocuous images. The sheer volume of individually owned websites, chat rooms and message boards makes it possible for a terrorist to set up a domain for steganographic communications. A terrorist might hack into a web site owned by an unsuspecting person or small business without elaborate firewalls and security and geeky monitoring skills. A terrorist could spoof (or “heckle”) another person as the sender of email when making threats, and then there would occur the question as to whether the audit trails of such email messages would always clear the target of blame.

Another large concern is the publication of instructions on killing or how to make weapons of mass destruction.   I have been involved in litigation involving Internet censorship related to sexually explicit content, but from a national security perspective, we have realized (ever since Jonesboro and Columbine) that some unsavory individuals may use the Internet to plan violent behavior, particularly hate crimes. There has been legal controversy over whether ISPs could be held liable for what their customers publish (are ISPs “utilities” or “publishers”?), and the recent growth of on-demand cooperative publishing raises questions about any postulated ability of fast-track publishers to take responsibility for negligent publication by their authors. 

Columnist Walt Brasch points out that the proposed capability for government to obtain library checkout records or Internet surfing records may make publishers (both print and web) less inclined to handle controversial material (and perhaps liability insurance companies less willing to insure authors and publishers who provide it).[36] These concerns all have the capability to shut down a lot of pseudo-commercial speech—very valuable but not as professionally managed or profitable—growing today.

Earlier wars were marked by sedition acts, as during World War I when journalists could be jailed by sedition laws for criticizing the draft.  In earlier times, free speech was considered dangerous because the public was considered easier to manipulate and because critical speech was considered to give aid and comfort to the enemy.  Even now, some liberal commentators claim that the establishment press is muzzled by the Bush administration. 

In the age of the Internet, the public is given more credit by politicians for being able to think for itself. That is seen as good to a point, especially in a terrorism crisis where alertness of individual citizens is an important part of national security.  Almost anyone leading an active social or professional life could accidentally stumble upon evidence of terrorism or become a target.  The gay community could be exposed because it is so socially fluid.  The idea that a “closeted” domestic terrorist-cell member could want to “defect; sounds plausible to me.

Does talking freely and publicly about possible threats give terrorist ideas or play into their games?  Time, discussion and information are on the side of the good guys (and gals).   I can only quote Laurie Garret writing in detail about bioterrorist threats: “The very writing of this article is, then, an arduous exercise in the ethics of truth, restraint, balance, and justifiable alarm.” (Vanity Fair, Dec. 2001, p. 198).  Echo. But there is a possibility that statements made by less-established self-instantiated individuals (compared to well-known news and lobbying organizations) may have more targeted effects on some terrorist-leadning readers. 

In fact, I have thought that the pervasivity of American and western speech, in broadcast media and by average citizens on the Internet, would reach that part of the world as an influence for political moderation and democracy. And we have found such poverty and deliberate intimidation by authoritarian regimes that this has not happened much—many citizens in these countries do not have computer access.

The “aid and comfort” problem has also surfaced in another way, as private organizations have created Internet sites blacklisting individuals (especially academia) who colorfully criticize America’s efforts to fight back. On a few campuses and other employers, professors or employees have been disciplined for aggressive speech (both overly patriotic and disloyal speech). Legal writers have warned employers not to go overboard on suppressing the expression of opinions on this by staff, even to some extent at work. At a commencement speech in Sacramento, CA a newspaper president was booed off the podium for suggesting (in the view of patriotic students) that threats to civil liberties need to be discussed systematically.

“Expressive association” (the concept ironically so fundamental to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dale v. Boy Scouts of America and in GLIL’s [Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty] brief actually arguing the BSA position) comes under question in anti-terrorism.  Non-citizens, at least, may he held for associating with foreign groups advocating terrorist agendas without having made specific threats. This may be a legal extension of the concept that it is a crime to plot to overthrow the government of the United States or of any state.  According to one report, a passenger was denied boarding on a flight because of her position in the Green Party, and of the Green Party’s reported position against American retaliation overseas against the Taliban.

Another adjunct of the association problem will be profiling, as with the unfortunate incidents where young men with Middle Eastern names or physical appearances are detained at airports. As a gay man, I know profiling from another angle: in the late 1980s, I found that being a never-married man pegged me as a health insurance risk when job-hunting, and I suppose you can construct an associational behavioral rationalization for this as just.  As noted above, investigating associational behavior raises 4th Amendment and due process problems.

Citizens would understand that they have a legal responsibility to dissociate themselves from terrorist associations that they may accidentally encounter.  This happened to me once in December of 1972 (three months after the Munich Olympics attacks).  I had been associating with the Peoples’ Party of New Jersey, when suddenly it advocated the use of violent protests.  I quickly drop all contact with them, but soon “came out”¾a critical time of my own life. Of course, that organization was hardly capable of carrying out anything more than their silly lettuce boycotts.  People today will have to be more careful about future downstream liability for their associations and for the consequences of careless remarks overheard or misunderstood by others. 

The Patriot Act does contain one provision that may undergo First Amendment scrutiny. It is an offense (for an author, publisher, webmaster, etc.) to publish an assembly of directions for making a weapon of mass destruction, even if the components of the published material came from freely available, unclassified sources, when the publisher has reason to believe that a terrorist will (using this information in combination, following a well known idea in security classification circles) be able to make such a mass destruction weapon and is likely to use it, even if such use is not “imminent” (following the “imminent threat of lawless action” in incitement cases, a doctrine easily used to regulate speech at airports, for instance).

The problem here is the converse of  legitimate value when taken as a whole” doctrine used in obscenity and sometimes in harmful-to-minors cases. Here, the component pieces may be lawfully published separately if an individual is unlikely to find them all, whereas they may not be lawfully published together in one work (or as one website), an observation with clear First Amendment problems. This does bring to mind civil litigation in cases where books have allegedly promoted crimes, such as with the Paladin case. (Legal or not, this site will not present such detailed weapons-related information.)

The Patriot also contains a provision that a business owner who allows (through failing to practice proper security) a server or web domain to be hijacked for secondary cyber terrorist attacks on critical government or commercial infrastructure may face criminal (or, presumably, civil charges) leading to imprisonment, fines of $10,000 and court injunctions shutting down his business. (Some legal experts, as at Electronic Frontier Foundation, have told me that these fears may be exaggerated.) Commercial anti-virus software may not always catch zombie Trojans planted by hackers even when the software is properly updated, and small business owners could be pressured to hire special security consultants as part of their due diligence.[37]

Presumably for web domains hosted by commercial ISP’s the legal downstream liability lies with the host ISP, but then an ISP could fear a customer whose controversial editorial content might attract attacks. The FBI has discovered evidence of Al Qaeda reconnaissance of critical infrastructures in the United States (dams, nuclear power plants) through the Internet, both for downloading basic security information and to discover infiltration points.[38] Yet one wonders why, say, the operations of a nuclear power plant would have an IP node accessible (potentially to hackers) to the public Internet.

Free speech has an important upside for security—that the public ought to be much better informed about any trouble spot in the world. Serious national security threats could come from Russia (if it were to revert), Bosnia, China (with respect to Taiwan and even Tibet), India v. Pakistan, a coup in Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian problem, North Korea, even Sierra Leone. Foreign affairs tend to present problems in terms of nationalities and groups, and yet this crisis has turned into one of a mistrust of individualism.  For both communism and religious hierarchialism share the desire to hide the individual from his own competitive failures.          And, not least, there is growing discussion of the possibility of conscription, to renew the draft (not used since Nixon stopped it in 1973). Congress still has the right to do that, and the Selective Service System is still in place to build contingent lists for induction, and draft age men are still required to register. Michigan Senator and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin suggested that on CNN on Sept. 14, and Charles Moskos argued in The Washington Post (Nov. 4) that some sort of national service conscription (with non-military options available) will be needed for homeland defense. Even Bob Dole recognized the possibility on Larry King Live on Nov. 20. 

In Do Ask, Do Tell I had included making conscription, which I compared to involuntary servitude, unconstitutional as the aim of an amendment.  Now I believe that it may be constitutionally acceptable when the homeland is directly attacked or is genuinely threatened with weapons of mass destruction from a foreign (or even extraterrestrial) source, which it is now. Presumably, such a draft would also involve women (though that would require a new law).  If constitutional and legal is the draft really a good idea now?

Now, there are real questions about how many security duties could be done by non-professional conscripts (certainly not special operations overseas).  The Pentagon is somewhat against the idea, although one could construe the contingent possibility of a military draft—with  male-only specific combat assignments and deployments allowed when necessary¾as a possible component of deterrence against some kinds of enemies, including those who would wage asymmetric warfare. The Clinton administration had declined the idea of doing away with Selective Service altogether because of concerns over staff in medical and computer warfare staffing. 

Another issue (curiously not mentioned by Moskos) is how the military gay ban and “don’t ask, don’t tell” would play out.  As a matter of law, a recruit whose unrebutted statements indicate a propensity to engage in homosexual acts must be denied entry into the military (non-military services might be a different matter). Younger gay men have been asking me this repeatedly. As I argued in my books, the ban is itself (whether “don’t ask don’t tell” or whether there is required self-outing and asking) a potential security threat, and it would further compromise the lives of gay people (especially men) outside of the military. I emailed Moskos on this, and he wrote back, “Gays must come out for conscription. Then the ban would be lifted.” In any case, a return to the draft of compulsory national service (Moskos suggests eighteen months) would slow the tide of tremendous teen successes in recent years: the music business (yup, I admired Naptser), boy bands, even high tech security companies. Imagine young men who have already decorated themselves with body art and tattoos being drafted.

In December 2001, Moskos would add a counterpoint (balanced by an opposing view from Lawrence Korb) that resuming the draft was an almost mandatory necessity, that conscripts could be used for the labor-intensive portions of civilian airport security, and that (this disturbs me particularly because of the downstream social implications) the military draft would remain male-only.[39] The draft would change some of the psychological balance in the rift between generations, and make age a better thing again.

Here, it strikes me that the mood of victory in the period after the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the impression that we easily enjoyed national security made a debate over gays in the military more credible in mainstream American culture.  Ten years before (as AIDS seemed out of control and as the religious right was gaining influence in the Reagan years) it would not have been thinkable. It should be noted that civilian forms of draft exist. In Israel, parents must spend a certain amount of time provide security at schools. Even Moskos has suggested non-military alternatives to satisfy a draft requirement, maybe with fewer benefits, but of particular interest to many women and perhaps to non-combative men.

If we really do have major attacks in the future or lose control of our homeland security, we could wind up like the freedom fighters in the 1984 film Red Dawn: we give up our plans, purposes and agendas for ourselves, and hope that our children, collectively, have better lives in the next generation—if we win eventually.  Isn’t that how war can go?  But then the question arises—may government curtail civil liberties temporarily with a sunset provision, or until a crisis is over?   May the “fundamental” character of some rights be dependent upon a time axis with a national security crisis?  Charles Krauthammer has bluntly written that a handful of terrorists with suitcase nukes or dirty bombs could destroy America.[40] This crisis will go on for a long time. 

In fact, the Bush administration admitted in March 2002 that it has resurrected a “shadow government” of government officials who live in shelter facilities, away from their families for ninety days at a time.  This is an expansion of the FEMA civilian reservist programs set up in the 70s and 80s for the Cold War.[41] It was not announced where these facilities are, but they could include Mount Weather in the Virginia Blue Ridge between Va-7 and US-50 (busy when I drive past it), or even the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va, which I visited and toured in 1997.  Is this a military-style life for civilians, living essentially in barracks and not going home at night? Does this invoke “don’t ask, don’t tell”?

I’ll add here that the gay community is no stranger to terrorism. In 1973, over twenty men were burned to death when a gay bar in New Orleans was fire-bombed.  There was a bombing of a gay bar in Atlanta in 1996 after the Olympic Park bombing, and a plot to blow up a gay disco in Seattle in 1998.  The 1998 torture-murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, even if directed at one individual, was a grim warning of where hatred could lead.  One could make similar observations about murders of African-Americans and of attacks against abortion clinics. So far these have all been domestic.

An important issue to gays and lesbians is payment of benefits to domestic partners of heroes in the Sept. 11 catastrophe. In May 2002 the House of Representatives pulled a bill (at the instigating of “Barney Fag” Dick Armery) that would have extended benefits to non-spousal or legally or blood related persons if those persons were named in the wills of the deceased. Later, however, the Mycal Judge Act was passed to allow such benefits.




The government is saying, live normally, even has a very stirring music video produced with a travel council. Sometimes it seems to be claiming that consumerism and shopping normally is a patriotic duty.  I even had such a conversation with Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura at the Sept. 22 Human Rights Campaign dinner (about airlines and fear of flying). Having traveled some in Europe recently, to places like Auschwitz and to Bilbao, Spain (for the Guggenheim), located in areas with severe past problems, I can say that security over there is much tighter, but it is not very intrusive or noticeable to a typical traveler.  Airport security, while much more thorough, is very efficient.

This is all a bit disingenuous. The nation is less wealthy now than it was before the attacks. By mathematical logic and whatever despair that logic produces, there must be some personal sacrifice.  Individualism, as a philosophy, recognizes the brutal combination of victimization and personal failure.  Bringing Osama bin Laden and his hundreds of minions to justice does not reverse the loss. Yet, compared to the way the country had to respond to Pearl Harbor in 1941, there has been little systematic sacrifice outside of the direct victims of the attacks and their families.

I conjure up images of Jimmy Carter in 1977, when I honestly expected eventual gasoline rationing and energy police.  Or Ross Perot, who in his 1992 campaign talked about “shared sacrifice.” But during the Reagan, Bush #1 and Clinton years, we seemed to prove that with, less government regulation, we could produce our way out of these problems. Reaganism worked.

And in many ways this may be true again.  The technology that we will be forced to develop now for security purposes will eventually provide other benefits that will add wealth.  Despite all the layoffs, there are high-paying jobs going begging for qualified people in areas related to security, as well as construction efforts related to infrastructure – highways, bridges, sewers, dams, light rail.  This all sounds like an FDR New Deal?  I hope that this time around it will be more private, but efforts could be made, for example, to help laid off airline employees work in security areas.

Business needs to pay more attention to substance and less to superficial numbers. I have nothing against day traders (and even short sellers), but we may need some tax law incentives to encourage longer term investment. The scale of corporate fraud and improper accounting at a few large companies such as Enron and WorldCom amounts to a bout of fiscal terrorism. This problem has probably consumed more jobs and personal wealth than did the attacks.  The big areas for investment are infrastructure, security, health care and, most of all—and here is the best opportunity—education. 

Business will have to pay even more attention to its own security.  This could mean more thorough background screening, a practice (as we already know from medical screening) that could invade employee privacy and create discrimination based on ethnicity, lifestyle, or associations. Businesses will have to pay more for physical infrastructure security. Government will have to provide extra assistance in such areas as protecting consolidated disaster recovery centers (for banks and financial institutions) with no-fly zones, to protecting natural gas lines and nuclear power plants. The use of optical backup storage and cables will make systems less vulnerable to electronic pulse attacks. 

One area that has received attention is money laundering, the “know your customer” concept noted above. Down the pike, there may eventually be more legal attention (outside of the IRS) paid to whether individual proprietorships (even mine) are operationally self-supporting. Already some wire transfer services, or hawalas, sending money to citizens in poor countries like Somalia with an honor system have been shut down (some have re-opened) because of suspicion of money laundering. I was driven away from a public sidewalk while filming in St Paul by a Somali business owner who feared that I was from the government. Emails offering “Nigerian scams” to collect overseas money abounded in the days after the attacks.

A particular area should also be long-term solutions to controversies over global warming and oil supplies. The evidence is mounting that our continued dependence upon fossil fuels (let alone those from the Middle East) will cause grave political and economic difficulties in the future. Genuine controversy exists not over global warming but over the true remaining reserves of recoverable oil supplies. Industry should gear up for building alternate infrastructures, such as those based upon hydrogen as a fuel. The world may not tolerate our disproportionate use of non-renewable resources.

It is in this area that the entertainment industry and book publishing industry has a civic responsibility for some innovation, to create better customers. Hollywood should divert some effort away from copycat escapist entertainment towards films with real social and educational content.

This is a time for thoughtful investment , not for conspicuous and frivolous consumption.  Over the long run as the short, our way of life – personal mobility, lifestyle and expressive choice – is at considerable risk. 

Stable companies should consider alternatives to layoffs, like shorter work weeks, reducing executive perks and compensation, and careful tailoring of personnel and professional development policies. When they do lay off employees, they must be fair. Northwest Airlines actually tried to deny some of its employees severance since it claimed its union contract allowed this in national emergencies.

 Individualism requires the expectation of personal gain and reward, but individualism also understands the notion of “that’s the breaks”¾ sacrifice is not always evenly distributed, and in the interests of freedom in the long term, perhaps it cannot be.  Employees and stakeholders of targeted industries (let alone the direct victims of the attacks) will sacrifice disproportionately, and this is a natural result of risk-taking. 

But we also need to bring some balance back into our ideas about individual responsibility, to the idea that sometimes one has to take care of others besides oneself.  Family is supposed to accomplish this naturally¾and that makes attention to the same-sex marriage and gay parenting issues mandatory, even if doing so makes others uncomfortably self-conscious about their personal values and upon their dependence on the abstract notion of marriage.  Coming back full circle, we see how whole generations have lost sight of this—and have come to believe that they can carry out their own lives with no prior obligations. It doesn’t work that way, it never did.  We need to become aware again of deservedness, of the need to pay your dues.

This might mean going the extra mile on the job when there is no extra compensation for on-call production support, or it might mean expected participation in national community service, not just at age 18 but at various points in one’s life.  It might even allowing employers to institute the “family wage.”  It certainly means having employers or shareholders stop paying huge bonuses and parachutes to executives that in today’s world seem inappropriately garish (and certainly some of these executives should share in the sacrifice.) We need a mentality where employers and individuals expect to see this, more through spontaneous order than government itself.  It won’t be easy. But a lot of the middle-class sacrifice in terms of a whole variety of economic losses (beyond the tragedy of those most directly affected by the attacks) has already occurred.

And, yup, I have not always lived up to my own teachings. Perhaps I lived a lot of my adult life in a generation that valued self-expression to the point that it did not require this expression be authenticated by taking care of others. No need for the details here.  But for the foreseeable future, whatever opportunity I may find, I will live modestly.  

One of my goals would be to participate in setting up a few town halls around the country to examine this axis between civil liberties and public interest.  The psychological schism incubated in Western democracies by the paradoxes of the gay world are now transposed into global politics, where the meaning of the individual in relation to God, the state, and particularly to gender is challenged again on a colossal scale.  As former Vice President Walter Mondale points out (speech on Nov. 29, 2001), diversity (acting in a society under a rule of law and tempered by responsibility) actually offers a tremendous advantage against an adversary determined to impose conformity, whether in the name of religion, folksiness, hero-worship, mysticism, equality or glory.  However, even with an efficient outcome to the war on terrorism, there is every reason to believe that in the future many citizens (especially younger ones) may not enjoy the same degree of individual autonomy that has come to be taken for granted.  The idea of social obligations will come back.  The ensuing debate does fit the proposals made earlier for “Bill of Rights II”.  And I would want to capture it in the can – on film.

 My optimistic view of a more moral America in Do Ask Do Tell (1997) faithfully presents personal freedom increased in conjunction with personal responsibility. The limits on individual choice seemed to come largely from within, the requirements of a society based on “ordered liberty.”  The circumscription from without seemed to me to be based more on conventionally held ideas about threats to national security.  These perils included the deterioration of states in which we knew there were serious problems (nationalism in Russia, communism in North Korea, overthrow of moderate Islamic regimes, more conventional aggression like Saddam Hussein’s and the possibility of catastrophic individual terrorist attacks in the McVeigh or Unabomber nature, possibly with weapons of mass destruction).

I knew about the reports about missing biological and suitcase nuclear weapons (from Russia) but did not give them specific attention.  I perceived of terrorism as intermittent in nature. Recognition of occasional or unpredictable possibilities led me to argue that problems within the military (such as the dishonest way in which “don’t ask, don’t tell” had been implemented) could some day have national security consequences.  I have noticed on the logs of this domain (hppub.com) significant access from Islamic countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Malaysia (sometimes Oman, Iran, and other remote countries) and I believed that, despite the filtering in many countries, persons in the Islamic world were reading some of my musings about individualism. These thoughts would offend many elements in their patriarchal culture, at least isolated persons or elements.  So I am an infidel with whom, in a global village, there can be no peaceful coexistence!

I had no idea then that an organization like Al Qaeda could be plotting such intricate, nihilistic plots without being more noticed.  I did not grasp the idea that a large terrorist organization could essentially take over weak states like Afghanistan and use their substates to launch attacks on or infiltrate Western society with the organization to carry out (through martyrdom) horrific atrocities, even with low tech, high concept approaches. 

While a number of journalists had suspected this possibility, I think that the particular combination of detailed planning and innocent technology escaped the radar screens of most authorities, given the political climate.  (In May 2002 the press erupted with reports about a series of controversial revelations within the Bush administration starting in June 2001.)   It might be argued that remaining Al Qaeda or other groups intended this approach and still had detailed plans in place to follow up with weapons of mass destruction.

This brings us back to understanding the relationship between Islamic history and the way the Islamic religion seems to have evolved so as to emphasize the importance of obedience to the tribe or group and to the formalities of ritual practice.  Fundamentalist Islamic convictions about Western culture are firmly felt but seem incomprehensible to most Westerners.  Christianity and Judaism have developed a theological respect for (and even dependence on) individual choice and free will (and this comment applies all the more to conservative denominations such as Mr. Ashcroft’s) that is in historical terms rather recent and unique.  Indeed, the ability of Christendom to form stable nations and states with a culture advanced enough to separate church and state took centuries to evolve, along with a geography that ultimately encouraged advanced economic growth. 

Princeton Professor of Near Eastern Studies Michael Scott Doran gives the complete historical detail of how collectively religious Islamic ideology drove the formation of large terrorist networks and the series of escalating attacks.  “On September 11, the attackers undoubtedly imagined themselves to be retracing the Prophet’s steps.” [42]  For a people to take their religion as a complete source of personal identity is perhaps the historical norm, and the West may be the outlier.

Ultimately balancing individual expressive liberty with general welfare and security, even given the shocking nature of the new threats, remains a matter of legal and moral principles. These principles apply even as we recognize that the enemy seems determined to exploit our openness as some kind of destabilizing evil and leverage that freedom against us with unpredictable attacks.  When elucidating seemingly new legal principles that allow increased surveillance, restrictions upon expressive association and the use of military justice possibly even with American citizen civilians, we need some convincing and principled way to draw a line. That boundary would involve evidence of the presence of weapons of mass destruction or clear evidence of intention to produce mass violence or destruction for its own sake. (This is not so far from how we used to view the Communist Party, when the legal definition of Communism—with the capital “C” and in comparison to socialism¾included promotion of the use of violent conflict or overthrow of the government.) 

With free speech concerns, we need to focus upon individual ethics, so that individual speakers know when they really could be endangering others, either through circumstances or negligence such as in allowing personal computers to be used for cyber attacks.  We should find a way to determine speech incites violence or “an imminent threat of lawless action.”  With social obligations, we need to develop the expectation that there will be some (including service expectation), and that specific kinds of people, like gays and lesbians, will not be excluded.  If we do experience sudden overwhelming or repeated attacks (again, radiological or nuclear worry me the most), leading to martial law and breakdown of normal modes of freedom, expression and mobility, people will have not much left but biological family, and it’s not a nice prospect to be forced back into that by moralistic external cultures (which themselves do not really exude family values as we understand them).

Every decade since World War II had its distinctive personality along the way to a build-up of individualism and personal liberty.  We have reached the crisis and catharsis.  We know the theme of the start of the new millennium.

So, can we have a “Bill of Rights II”? Yes, but we must face the gravity of the threats and prove to ourselves that we can contain them.  Asymmetric warfare, while it could not conquer a Western country in the conventional sense of overthrowing a government and evicting it from power, could make a free and open society as we know it—so rooted in law and justice and supportive of individual choices¾unsustainable.  We simply cannot afford to miss any more of these big threats (and this comment may apply to Saddam Hussein). We really do need to look in a structured way to draw the line against weapons of mass destruction with respect to most individual rights issues, including free speech, search and seizure, privacy, criminal due process, immigration, and maybe even national service. We have to learn to determine when we are playing fair with the way we set our own priorities.      



ãCopyright 2001 by Bill Boushka, all rights reserved subject to fair use.

Nov. 22, 2001  last updated April 2002

Go to running notes since Sept 11

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Email me at Jboushka@aol.com















[1] Alex Alexiev, “The End of an Alliance: It’s time to tell the House of Saud goodbye,” National Review, Oc. 28, 20002, p. 38.

[2] Tamim Ansary, “An Afghan-American speaks: You can't bomb us back into the Stone Age. We're already there. But you can start a new world war, and that's exactly what Osama bin Laden wants.” http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/09/14/afghanistan/

[3] Eyad Sarraj, “Why We Blow Ourselves Up: A Palestinian doctor explains why so many of his people want to be martyrs,” Time, April 5, 2002, p. 39.

[4]  I brought this point up at panel discussion at a screening of Peace of Mind at a Jewish Community Center and was met with an ambivalent response as to the historical role of property rights in the region. 

[5] The correct Arabic term for militant political expansion for religious purposes is supposed to be “kazra,” not “jihad.” The Koran is probably even more open to interpretation than the Bible, because Arabic lacks specificity in terms of time relationships, state of being and possession when compared to modern languages.

[6] Rose Wilder Lane. Islam and the Discovery of Freedom, introduction and commentary by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph. D., Amana, Minaret of Freedom Institute, 1997. Also see http://www.minaret.org/ and http://www.amermuslim.org/  But see also note 8.


"O Prophet! Make war against the unbelievers [all non-Muslims] and the hypocrites and be
merciless against them. Their home is hell, an evil refuge indeed." (Koran, 9:73)

"When you meet the unbelievers in jihad [holy war], chop off their heads. And when
you have brought them low, bind your prisoners rigorously. Then set them free or take ransom
from them until the war is ended." (Koran, 47:4)

"The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and his messenger and strive after
corruption in the land will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet
and genitals cut off, or to be expelled out of the land. Such will be their humiliation
in the world, and in the next world they will face an awful horror." (Koran, 5:33-34)

"When we decide to destroy a population, we send a definite order to them who have the good things
in life and yet sin. So that Allah's word is proven true against them, then we destroy them
utterly." (Koran, 17:16)

"In order that Allah may separate the pure from the impure, put all the impure ones [all non-Muslims]
one on top of another in a heap and cast them into hell. They will have been the ones to have lost."
(Koran, 8:37)


Web reference is http://www.jtf.org/info/koran.quotes.htm (Jewish Task Force). There are many translations of the Koran in English, many of them with more archaic-sounding sentences. Out of fairness, we mention:  Some scholars claim that the Koran cannot be completely translated out of Arabic into European languages and keep its exact meaning.


A more standard translation of these is (translated by M.H. Shakir), from a University of Virginia website, is: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/HolKora.html



O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination. (9.73)


So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish. (47.4)


The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement. (5:33)


And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction. (17:16)


 That Allah might separate the impure from the good, and put the impure, some of it upon the other, and pile it up together, then cast it into hell; these it is that are the losers. (8.37)


Here is another interesting quote from Chapter 29, “The Spider”: (29:41)


The parable of those who take guardians besides Allah is as the parable of the spider that makes for itself a house; and most surely the frailest of the houses is the spider's house did they but know.



[8] Yahiya, Emerick, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam, Alpha Press, 2002.

[9] For example, George Gilder, Men and Marriage (New Orleans: Pelican, 1986).

[10] Jonathan Rauch, “The Mullahs and the Postmodernists,” The Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 2002, p. 21.

[11] Alexander Stille, “Vrigins or Raisins: Scholars dare to re-interpret the Qur’an,” The New York Times, March 20, 2002, discusses the anger that intellectual and historical investigations of the source and authenticity of the Koran as scripture (as interpreted by some Muslims) can bring. Salman Rushdie, recall, lived under threat of assassination for his book Satanic Verses.  

[12] David Brooks, “Among the Bourgeoisophobes: Why the Europeans and Arabs, each in their own way, hate America and Israel”, The Weekly Standard, April 15, 2002, p. 20.

[13] Dinesh D’Souza, “Osama’s Brain: Meet Sayyid Qutb, intellectual father of the anti-Western jihad.” The Weekly Standard, April 29, 2002, p. 16.  See also note 4.  See also his new book What’s So Great About America, Regnery, 2002.

[14] All of these quotes in “New York September Eleven TwoThousandOne” published by the Robin Hood Relief Fund.

[15] Noam Chomksy,  9/11, Seven Stories Press (Canada), 2001.

[16] Dr. Bruce G. Blair,  What If the Terrorists Go Nuclear,” Center For Defense Information, Terrorism Project, Oct. 1, 2001. http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/nuclear.cfm

[17] James Rosen, “Loose nukes in Russia create a new urgency: Anti-U.S. groups may have dangerously easy access to nuclear materials,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 8, 2002. Rosen also reports the 1996 claim by Gen Alexander Lebed (formerly a security advisor to Boris Yeltsin) about the 84 missing suitcase nukes, but also reports that today both Russian and U.S. officials now deny this claim. An up-to-date objective documentary of the security controls on Russian nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and on unaccounted-for losses seems to be in order. Frontline would be a good start, but this seems to call for a feature-length film.

[18] David Westphal, “Dirty bombs: The New Nuclear Threat,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 7, 2002. This article warns of the possibility that terrorists could build a crude nuclear bomb and investigates dirty bombs in a sidebar, “Dirty Bombs are potent psychological weapon,” on p. A13. Even a very small dirty device like a truck bomb with a small amount of cesium or cobalt (possibly stolen from medical supplies or wastes) could present  enormous problems in assessing downstream health and cancer risks and whether the public could live with a slight or moderate increase in cancer deaths.  The seven nations with nuclear weapons are the U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France, Israel, China, India, and Pakistan. There is controversy over whether Pakistan has actually deployed any small nukes. Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Libya are all known to be attempting or to have attempted to acquire nuclear weapons. Another important issue in this issue of the Star Tribune is “Iraq likely to use taboo weapons: Iraqi leader has little to lose if U.S. invades to remove him” by John Hendren of the Los Angeles Times.

[19]  Michael A. Levi and Henrcy C. Kelly, “Weapons of Mass Disruption: Radiological terror weapons could blow radioactive dust through cities, causing panic, boosting cancer rates and forcing costly cleanups,” Scientific American, Nov. 2002, p. 76.

Steven Johnson, “Stopping Loose Nukes: How an atomic wall sill save America’s cities,” Wired, Nov. 2002m p. 162.

Ben Brandt, “Weapons of Mass Destruction: Not a Doomsday review,” The American Experience Quarterly,  Fall 2002.

[20] But Peter Richmond, in “How to Build a Suitcase Nuke: It’s quite simple, really. And more than one expert believes Al Qaeda has done it,” in Gentleman’s Quarterly, Feb. 2002, presents a sobering dissent to any such reassuring complacency.  This magazine announces now on its cover “Buy this magazine or the terrorists have won.” Richmond takes up the question as to whether “they” would “use it” if they have it, and it is important to note that Al Qaeda and similar groups usually do not make demands with their attacks. President George W. Bush alluded to the blackmail possibility in his “State of the Union” address on January 28, 2002.  It should be remembered that Gore Vidal had warned the public about terrorism in the August 2002 Vanity Fair, in expressing dissatisfaction over the investigation of Timothy McVeght (#1).

[21] Massismo Calabresi, and Romesh Ratnesar,  Can We Stop the Next Attack,” Time, March 11, 2002.

[22] Philip Shenon,  Qaeda Leader Said to Report A-Bomb Plans,” The New York Times, April 23, 2002, p. 9. This logline is misleading; a dirty bomb is not an atomic bomb.

[23] John B. Roberts (II), “The Nuclear Bomb Squad: Could they halt an attack in time?” Reader’s Digest, May 2002, p. 74.  See also earlier Reader’s Digest pieces: Susan Freinkel, “The Unthinkable: The most worrisome threats on the home front—and what you can do,” Feb. 2002, p. 61, and Alexis Jetter, “What If.. an outbreak of smallpox threatens to spiral out of control? Can we contain it?” p. 67

[24]  Thomas Gale Moore [of Hoover Institute] “How to Reduce Terrorism: Bring American Troops Home,” San Jose Mercury News, June 11, 2002. At one point Moore writes: “According to a Zogby International Poll released on April 11, a majority of people in the five Arab countries and three
non-Arab Muslim states view our freedom and our democracy with favor. But overwhelmingly, they disapprove of our policies toward Arab nations and the Palestinians.
Kuwait, for example, which we rescued from Iraq, liked our freedom and democracy by 58 percent to 39 percent, but only 6 percent viewed our policies favorably and a huge 88 percent disapproved of our policies in the Middle East. Other Muslim countries had almost identical views. And this poll was taken before Israel sent its military into the West Bank!” Indeed, a few people consider this essay of mine to be promotion of conservative propaganda so I will certainly state and respect opposing views.  Are the attacks, as Chomsky hints, somehow our desserts for past imperialism or foreign political opportunism? (Is that propaganda?) Again, there is this question about peaceful coexistence of authoritarianism with freedom and whether the radical militant faction of the Muslim world can maintain its separate planet. 

[25] President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2002. 

[26] Mark  Miller and Daniel Klaidman,  “Hunt for the Anthrax Killer,” Newsweek, Aug. 12, 2002 reports the searches by the FBI against scientist Steven J. Hatfill as a person of interest, near Fort Dietrich at Frederick, Md. It seems as thought the government has invited enormous media coverage on the basis of provocative circumstantial evidence (and there are cries to “remember Richard Jewell,” whom the FBI misidentified back in 1996 in connection with an incident at the Atlanta Olympics). The government even seized a hard drive in Hatfill’s apartment with an unpublished novel about bioterrorism. It is not supposed to create legal risk to write anything until the writing is “published” or intentionally shown to someone else. How will publishers feel about terrorist-associated materials after a seizure like this? (The Patriot Act would not have made it illegal for an employee to publish a novel unless classified material were disclosed, although that’s also a gray area.)  It is possible that a foreign terrorist could plant evidence that appears to implicate an ordinary American citizen.

[27] David Tell. “Remember Anthrax? The FBI seems to have no idea who sent it, but won’t let go of it’s ;lone American’ theory.” The Weekly Standard, April 29, 2002, p. 22.

[28] Time, May 21, 2002. http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101020603/story.html  Time itself is http://www.time.com/

This memo text would be in the public domain. The simple text is at http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/rowley.htm

[29] Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, “The Hijackers We Let Escape,” Newsweek, June 3, 2002. Jonathan Alter has an article in the same issue about the level of information that should be circulated in public (ranging from the “terrorism for dummies” sites to legitimate self-protection information). Again, the government’s warning levels (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Green) from high to low¾they don’t follow the spectrum—correspond roughly to the DEFCON alerts.  

[31] Matthew Rothschild, “The New McCarthyism,” The Progressive, Jan., 2002, p. 18.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Jim McTague,  Wanted: Wyatt Earps,” Barron’s, March 4, 2002.

[34] Paul Wallich, “Who’s Who: Can Digital Technology Prevent Identity Theft,” Scientific American, July 2002, p. 19.

[35] Adam Liptak, Neil A. Lewis, and Benjamin Weiser,  After Sept. 11, a Legal Battle on the Limits of Civil Liberty,” The New York Times, Aug. 4, 2002.

[36] Walt Brasch, “The Patriot Act and Free Speech: The Fiction Behind National Security” (white paper). http://www.counterpunch.org/braschfreespeech.html

[37] Holly Dolezalek and Dennis Muller, “Data Security Auditors, St. Paul Company focuses on Data Security,” Twin Cities Computer User, July 2, 2002, p. 10.

[38] Barton Gellman,  Cyber-Attacks by Al Qaeda Feared: Terrorists on Threshold of Using Internet as Tool of Bloodshed, Experts Say,” The Washington Post, June 27, 2002.

[39] The original article on this subject by Charles Moskos was :Now Do You Believe We Need a Draft” on November 2001 in the Washington Monthly (also the November 4, 2001 Washington Post). The counterpoint with Lawrence Korb appeared in the December 2001 American Enterprise, and “Reviving the Citizen Soldier” appeared in The Public Interest, Spring 2002.

[40] Charles Krauthammer, Newsweek, Oct. 2001, and many columns at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/columns/krauthammercharles/ Kruathammer warned about the likelihood that the U.S. would be in a war with Iraq by the end of 2002.


[41] Frank Davies, “Doomsday threat grips Congress: How would it function in face of catastrophe?” St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 8, 2002. This article discusses some proposed constitutional amendments for succession, such as allowing governors to appoint interim members of the House of Representatives after a major catastrophe that caused casualties in the House.

[42] Michael Scott Doran,  Long War in the Making: Somebody Else’s Civil War,” Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2002.