Sunday, January 24, 2010
Si Se Puede
"It's getting to the point where the twin news stories more or less write themselves. ... But somehow the watch list, the tipoff, the many worried reports from colleagues and relatives, the placing of the name on 'a central repository of information' don't prevent the suspect from boarding a place, changing places, or bringing whatever he cares to bring onto a plane. ... So that's now more or less the routine for the guilty. ... (By the way, I make a safe prediction: Nobody in that embassy [Abuja, Nigeria] or anywhere else in our national security system will lose his or her job as a consequence of this most recent disgrace.) ... For some years after 9/11, passengers were forbidden to get up and use the lavatory on the Washington-New York shuttle. Zero tolerance! I suppose it must eventually have occurred to somebody that this ban would not deter a person who was willing to die, so the rule was scrapped. ... Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can't or won't. The answer to the second question is: Because we can. The fault is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to 'feel safe'," my emphasis, Christopher Hitchens at Slate, 28 December 2009, link:
Why do we prosecute low-level drug offenders? Because we can! Why don't we prosecute sophisticated financial frauds? Because we dare not.