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Dr. Philip Bobbitt, author of The Shield of Achilles, on NSA eavesdropping and terrorism in his NYT op-ed (hat tip Memeorandum):

“In the debate over whether the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, we must not lose sight of the fact that the world we entered on 9/11 will require rewriting that statute and other laws. The tiresome pas de deux between rigid civil libertarians in denial of reality and an overaggressive executive branch seemingly heedless of the law, while comforting to partisans of both groups, is not in the national interest.

…Furthermore, not only are there presumably conspirators within the United States, but conversations between two foreign persons could be routed, via the Internet, through American switches to give the appearance of a domestic-to-international connection. It is difficult to imagine getting warrants now in such situations, because the standard of probable cause to conclude that the target is a terrorist cannot be met.”

Read the whole thing.

Members of paramilitary networks are not merely a random collection of individuals but are connected to an evolving, organizational entity with an institutional life that, while different in many ways, are not unlike states and corporations which have long had special status in both domestic and international law. Even members of organized crime, a less dangerous grouping than al Qaida, are subject to RICO prosecution.

Policies, laws and attitudes must change to reflect this reality.


The esteemed Colonel Austin Bay has weighed in as well.

2 Responses to “”

  1. Eddie Says:

    I’m reading “States Of Peace” now, but after “States Of War” I’m already depressed about the lack of progress made in adapting to both the new rules and realities affected by the WOT and those of the “market state”/”virtual state”.
    (“The Shield Of Achilles” is just a breathtaking book in its scope. Thanks for the tip.)
    I wonder would Bobbitt end up suggesting a quasi domestic intelligence agency? When the next terrorist attack within the US occurs, will our politicians be able to transcend their increasingly outdated ideas and policies? With this bunch, it does not seem very likely at all. They’d probably only beef up the Homeland Security monster.
    Seems we are headed for the Park, not the Meadow.

  2. mark Says:

    hi eddie,

    They are badly behind the curve but in that they reflect their consitituents.

    A third of the country refuses to accept that we are at war.

    About 10 % probably believes Bush bombed the WTC.

    That’s what we are dealing with, politically speaking. An unrealistic partisan intransigence that has more in common with the Third French Republic than our partisan conflicts of decades past.

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