Re: WTC terror attack

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Wed Sep 12 2001 - 07:22:21 MDT

On Wed, Sep 12, 2001 at 10:37:52AM +0200, Christian Szegedy wrote:
> Implications?
> Here we have the worst thing could ever happen.


The death toll in this incident is only (only!) on the same order
as a small terrorist A-bomb attack on New York.

For the *worst* thing, contemplate a *large* nuclear attack, or
extensive use of CB weapons, or ...

This is not at the higher end of the sort of damage that countries
receive in time of war.

> I am much more afraid of the implicite implications.
> Secure communication, cryptography and privacy. Forget them.
> These events will clearly be anough to get the support for
> the most draconian laws one can imagine.

> It reminds me at the Reichstag fire in Germany,1933.
> Altough it was probably the deed of a lonely terrorist, it
> gave Hitler the public support against his political opponents.

The Reichstag fire was orchestrated by the Nazis, IIRC.

This event ... no. I thought "Reichstag fire" when I First
heard about it, but this is too big to be a domestic conspiracy
aimed at justifying a clampdown. (Conspirators who try to take
over a country tend to want to keep it intact in the process.)

> Bush said: "The freedom is attacked." I fear: we will
> defend our freedom so strong that we won't have any anymore.
> I am afraid that the terrorists will succeed in attacking it,
> this time...

Remember: "security is inversely proportional to convenience" is an
old lesson in computing. Unfortunately security is also inimical
to civil liberties, in the real world.

Looking at the demographics, even when you take this event into account,
the US has had a much lower average terrorist death toll over the past
thirty years than the UK. (Northern Ireland: 3000 dead in 30 years,
population 58 million for the whole UK. NY/DC: 10,000 dead, 260 million
people.) But I suspect you're going to get thirty years' worth of
intrusive security measures in about one week flat, now ...

-- Charlie

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