• Tag Archives terrorism
  • We Won’t Stop Terror by Sacrificing Internet Privacy

    We Won’t Stop Terror by Sacrificing Internet Privacy

    Government’s main and possibly only purpose should be the protection of its citizens. We delegate this responsibility to our governments so that we can better use our time to enjoy leisure activities and civilized pursuits not associated with law enforcement and security protection. When a government no longer provides that security and stability for its citizens, they rarely exist much past that point.

    Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Many interpretations of this quote exist in relation to the current state of radical Islamic terrorism plaguing many countries throughout the world. How much of our freedom do we relinquish to secure our cities and our way of life?

    Massive Online Monitoring

    Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor of Lawfare, was interviewed a few years ago by Robert Siegel of NPR, stating that Franklin’s quote was misunderstood in the context of a changing landscape of threats and the digital revolution. He states,

    It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it’s almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.”

    Considering the most recent terror attack in London, which left 7 people dead and 50+ people injured thus far, English Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a massive uptick in online monitoring of social media accounts, among other measures, to monitor communication channels in hopes of locating and preventing terror attacks.

    “We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide,” Ms. May said. But what does that mean?

    Charles Arthur at The Guardian and Andrew Griffin at The Independent make a case for the exact opposite intent occurring from drastic measures that Ms. May is proposing.

    “If successful, Theresa May could push these vile networks into even darker corners of the web, where they will be even harder to observe,” wrote Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, “But we should not be distracted: the Internet and companies like Facebook are not a cause of this hatred and violence, but tools that can be abused. While governments and companies should take sensible measures to stop abuse, attempts to control the Internet are not the simple solution that Theresa May is claiming.”

    This is precisely the point.

    The Internet Is Just a Tool

    The internet is not some animate being that aids or promotes terrorism. Facebook and Twitter don’t wake up in the morning and, over tea, decide to aid radical Islamic terror. Would we blame an ax for the crime committed with it and ban all axes from society? The logging industry just might have something to say about that. Likewise, with any tool, it is sheer foolishness to think that the regulation of its use will lead to reduced crime if we do not deal with the true root and cause of the crimes themselves.

    But this is not surprising from governments today that have a basic disregard for human freedoms. Out of control regulation and legislation in almost every area of life is commonplace. In fact, a case could be made that any area of life not regulated in some way by government presents a threat to the foundations of their existence.

    What relevancy would a nation-state have in your life if they removed regulation and allowed you to make free choices as you saw fit, rather than from a limited number of choices they have already pre-approved?

    Impacts from Ms. May’s action could be numerous with unintended consequences becoming manifold overnight. Would it not make more sense to allow more freedoms on the internet so that radical ideologies could be exposed, challenged and potentially marginalized or their believers’ ideas changed? More control of public discourse is a step on the road towards tyranny, not more freedom.

    Franklin may not have envisioned the internet existing, but his Pennsylvania Gazette was instrumental in overthrowing an oppressive regime that was enforcing its ideology on the colonies. British and American tradition is one of a metered response and the openness of discourse. Ms. May’s actions exhibit neither.

    So What Do We Do?

    The question becomes then, how do we combat terror. Is there a solution? Many have been batted around by western governments. U.S. President Donald Trump wants to effectively reduce travel from hotspot terror countries. Ms. May wants to regulate the internet. Angela Merkel believes that an openness of travel and a presentation of the superiority of western ideals will win the day.

    The solution to the problem of Islamic extremism will potentially be much more complicated than those, but not one that we should have to sacrifice our freedoms for, both to those who would take it away by committing acts of terror and to those who purport to know best how to keep us safe.

    In 1776, regular colonial citizens recognized that there was an ideological difference between British and Colonial rule. They took up arms to defend themselves because their governments at the time would not or could not keep them safe any longer. The same is happening in Western Europe and will most likely begin to happen in the U.S. soon. How long will it be before ordinary citizens will take up arms to prevent terror when their governments see only the removal of privacy, rights and freedoms as the solutions to a crisis?

    Friedrich Hayek in his book, The Road to Serfdom, writes extensively on the necessity of individual rights and government’s interest in removing those rights. He writes,

    It is true that the virtues which are less esteemed and practiced now  –  independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one’s own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one’s neighbors  –  are essentially those on which the of an individualist society rests. Collectivism has nothing to put in their place, and in so far as it already has destroyed then it has left a void filled by nothing but the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to what is collectively decided to be good.”

    Much can be said about how western powers have aided the rise of radical extremism through interventionist and botched interventionist policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. Should we also pay the price for their mistakes in the confiscation of our rights to privacy and liberty? The people of Europe will have to make that hard choice.

    In the coming weeks, months and years we will also need to make hard choices about how to combat terror. What is true for now is that our governments cannot protect us sufficiently from radical Islamic terror and the problem seems to be worsening.

    One item I do agree with Ms. May on is that enough is enough. It’s about time we named our enemy and found ways to curb his ability to contribute to the destruction of our way of life. No one should have to live in fear of gangs of ideologically motivated men killing using vehicles, knives or bombs. These are marks of chaos and anarchy, not stability and freedom. Perhaps if we addressed the real cause of the problem we could take one step back towards a prosperous and open society.

    Reprinted from Politics Means Politics.

    John Bianchi

    John Bianchi is a marketing professional and the Chapter Leader for America’s Future Foundation in Raleigh. You can keep up to date with his articles on Medium here: https://medium.com/@johnmbianchi21.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

  • When Terrorist Attacks Are Welfare-Funded

    When Terrorist Attacks Are Welfare-Funded

    Whenever mass shootings occur, some people quickly jump to conclusions before there’s any evidence.

    Folks on the Right are occasionally guilty of immediately assuming Islamic terrorism, which is somewhat understandable. Folks on the Left, meanwhile, are sometimes guilty of instinctively assuming Tea Party-inspired violence (I’m not joking).

    I confess that I’m prone to do something similar. Whenever there is a terrorist attack, I automatically wonder if we’ll find out welfare payments and other goodies from the government helped subsidize the evil actions.

    In my defense, there’s a reason I think this way. Whether we’re talking about Jihadi John or the Tsarnaev brothers, there are lots of examples of dirtbag terrorists getting handouts from taxpayers.

    It happens a lot in other nations, and it’s now happening with disturbing frequency in the United States.

    It’s even gotten to the point where I’ve created a special terror wing in the Moocher Hall of Fame. And, as more evidence accumulates, the medieval savage who drove a truck through a Christmas market in Germany may be eligible for membership.

    Here’s some of what we know, as reported by the Daily Caller in an article titled “Berlin Terrorist Claimed Welfare Under Several Identities While Planning Attack”:

    Berlin truck attack terrorist Anis Amri used several different identities to claim multiple welfare checks simultaneously in different cities around Germany. Amri, the Tunisian refugee who killed 12 and injured 48 at a Christmas market in Berlin Dec. 19 … The investigation was closed in November because Amri’s whereabouts were unknown … Welfare is a common way for terrorists to fund their activities in Europe.

    The U.K.-based Express reveals that the terrorist was very proficient at ripping off taxpayers before deciding to kill them.

    Despite being shot dead in Italy just days after the attack, the Tunisian refugee is now under investigation for fraud after conning German authorities into handing over cash to fund his terror exploits. After travelling from Tunisia to Europe in 2011, he used up to eight different aliases and several different nationalities – at times even claiming to be from Egypt or Lebanon. Reports claim Amri carried several different false identity documents and used aliases to collect welfare in cities across Germany.

    The story also has details on how welfare payments subsidized previous terrorist actions.

    Welfare fraud was key to funding terror attacks in Brussels in March and in Paris last year. Terrorists collected around £45,000 in benefits which they used to pay for the brutal attacks in the major European cities … Meanwhile, Danish authorities came under fire recently after it emerged 36 Islamic State fighters continued to receive benefits for months after leaving the country to join other members of the brutal regime in Syria and Iraq.

    And while I’m not sure RT is a legitimate news source, it says Amri used 14 identities for mooching.

    Anis Amri, the Tunisian man accused of driving a truck into a crowd of Christmas market shoppers in Berlin, used at least 14 different identities, a German police chief said … Among other things, this allowed the man to receive social benefits under different names in different municipalities, the police chief said.

    A close associate (and suspected co-conspirator) of Amri also was mooching off the system according to news reports.

    A spokeswoman for the office of Germany’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday said authorities have taken a second Tunisian suspect into custody following raids in Berlin on Tuesday … However, she added that there was insufficient evidence to charge the suspect. In a separate statement, the federal prosecutor’s office announced the man had been charged with committing social welfare fraud and would remain in custody … the suspect had previously been detained on suspicion of supplying explosives intended for a prospective attack in Dusseldorf … The 26-year-old suspect allegedly had dinner with Amri at a restaurant the night before the attack, according to Köhler. The suspect allegedly met Amri in late 2015. “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported that the two men traveled together from Italy to Germany that year.

    Gee, sounds like a model citizen. Merkel must be proud of her caring and sharing welfare state.

    Last but not least, a story in the U.K.-based Telegraph has some added details on the sordid history of welfare-funded terrorism in Europe.

    The jihadists suspected of carrying out the bomb and gun attacks in Paris and Brussels used British benefits payments to fund international terrorism, a court has heard … Zakaria Bouffassil, 26, from Birmingham is accused of handing over the cash which had been withdrawn from the bank account of Anouar Haddouchi, a Belgian national, who had been claiming benefits while living in the West Midlands with his wife. Kingston Crown Court heard how thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money continued to be paid into Haddouchi’s bank account, even after he had left Britain for Syria and had begun fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) … On the opening day of their trial, jurors heard how some of the most notorious and wanted terrorists in Europe had used British taxpayers’ money to fund their activities in Syria and elsewhere.

    Though I suppose I shouldn’t say “sordid history.” This is more like societal suicide.

    After all, we’re not talking about welfare payments for a tiny fraction of terrorists. It really is a theme.

    I linked to some examples above, and if you want more evidence, click here, here, here, here, and here.

    By the way, I’m not claiming that welfare causes terrorism. Though I do wonder if Mickey Kaus has a point when he does make that link.

    … extreme anti-social terrorist ideologies (radical Islam, in particular) seem to breed in “oppositional” cultures supported by various government welfare benefits … The social logic is simple: Ethnic differences make it easy for those outside of, for example, French Arab neighborhoods to discriminate against those inside, and easy for those inside to resent the mainstream culture around them. Meanwhile, relatively generous welfare benefits enable those in the ethnic ghetto to stay there, stay unemployed, and seethe. Without government subsidies, they would have to overcome the prejudice against them and integrate into the mainstream working culture. Work, in this sense, is anti-terrorist medicine.

    I don’t particularly like government-provided welfare of any kind, but I definitely think there should be strict rules against handouts for immigrants. And if that makes them less susceptible to terrorist ideologies, that’s a big fringe benefit.

    P.S. It goes without saying that politicians aren’t trying to subsidize terrorism. It’s just a byproduct of bad policy. They do, however, explicitly and deliberately subsidize terrorism insurance for big companies. A rather unique example of corporate welfare.

    Republished from the author’s website.

    Daniel J. Mitchell

    Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.