Re: some U.S. observations and notes

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Dec 22 2001 - 09:10:43 MST

On Sat, 22 Dec 2001, Kai Becker wrote:

> I repeat: Who _exactly_ are "they"? What are the criteria? Which of the 276
> mio. persons in the US are "members of their group"? What about the
> "presumption of innocence"? (I hope this is the right term)

The term is correct. However, I do not believe that it applies to non-citizens
of the U.S. In contrast, I believe in the French legal system one is guilty
until proven innocent (someone correct me if this is wrong).

I would be in the camp outlined by the British Government recently. If
people want to enjoy the "privleges" of being a citizen (or even residing
in) Britain (or the U.S.) then they have to agree to abide by the laws
of the country. The laws of these and many other countries prohibit
conspiracies to commit volent acts.

> Again: even if you would detain every person with a muslim background,
> you still wouldn't be safe.

Agreed. However, I'll note that FBI said today that the "interviews"
with ~5000 people are largely complete and did turn up a few leads.
I'll note that we did not "detain" these people but simply requested
they make themselves available for questioning. An imposition yes,
but I could see some merit in "criminalizing" not making available
to authorities knowledge related to terrorist activities. That
citizens (or foreigners) not make available information that lowers
the trust or security level of a society can certainly be viewed
as a violation of the trust environment required for a "civil" society.

The ~700(?) people who are currently being detained are to the best
of my knowledge non-citizens, most of whom are U.S. residents in
violation of their VISA status. Sorry, but if you have violated
your "contract" with the U.S. about why you came here or how long
you intended to stay then I have no problem with letting people
suffer the consequences.

> The pilots and helpers of the 9-11 incident have lived and studied legally
> in Germany for years. One of them was even born in Germany. They didn't
> raise any suspicion. They had no problems with the authorities.

True. Locking up all the people of a specific religious faith makes
no sense. Requiring strict background checks on individuals who
may have access to potential weapons does. This includes planes,
truck drivers and even workers in biotechnology laboratories.
I'll note that the U.S. has arrested dozens of its own citizens
who turned out to be working at airports in violation of their
immigration status and requirements for non-felony criminal
histories. I personally am outraged that the security agencies
who provided the security at the airports were so lax in this area.

> They came legally into the USA (although they must have lied when
> filling in the immigration form - "are you a member of a terrorist
> group"...) and even got their pilot licenses legally.

I believe several entered the U.S. illegally, perhaps from Canada
and several were in violation of their immigration status (having
overstayed their VISAs) at the time of their attacks. This points
out the need for greater information tracking. If you enter the
U.S. to get an education, it should be verified that you are doing
that and when you leave that should be verified as well.

> What kind of "police work" could find them without making the whole country
> a police state?

The kind that has been done over the last several months. The
kind that would involve greater coordination between various
departments of within a government and between various governments.
The kind that would strengthen the knowledge that embassies might
have regarding the identity and travels of people applying for VISA.

I think a major hole that needs to be plugged is the problem of
forged identity documents. Right now I'd say that is one of the
weakest links.

Trial Balloon: What would be the downside to the requirement that
all individuals applying for a VISA must also provide information
related to the standard DNA polymorphisms used to confirm identity?

(I'm not sure this would have prevented the 911 attacks, but it would
have raised red flags if the individuals applying for VISAs were
known to have visited Pakistan or Afghanistan as well.)


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:29 MDT