President Obama made a compelling argument Friday when he said authorities might have thwarted the 9/11 attacks had they been able to determine that one of the hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar, was in San Diego when he placed a call to a known al-Qaida hideout in Yemen.
The unstated and unanswered question, however, is whether terrorists remain so sloppy as to communicate this way today, given how technology has evolved since 2001. We’re guessing they don’t.
The problem isn’t so much that the information is in the hands of the government, but that it is in human hands. While political leaders and even bureaucrats may have personal reasons to abuse the data gathered, government at least has the duty to protect its citizens from attack. The same can’t be said of a third party corporation, even making allowances for patriotic feelings and sense of duty.
As Obama said, “what’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed.”
– Scott Randell (@DefinedByMvsic)