Bob Franken

Fort Hood: Stolen Privacy

If Nidal Hasan wanted to damage the United States with his vicious rampage at Ft. Hood, he may be succeeding more than his twisted mind ever dared hope. Not only has he left such sadness in the wake of his massacre, but he may have triggered anger that we will do something stupid and encourage authorities to intensify the intrusive snooping into our private lives.

Already we are seeing the finger pointing at intelligence operatives who were aware Hasan was in e-mail contact with an Al Qaeda operative.

How did they know? How do they ever know? Since 9/11, prying surveillance has become a fact of life for all of us.

Now the clamor is building to place blame on someone or something that allowed our domestic spies to ignore the so-called “warning signs” of possible terrorist connections their cyber sweeps had picked up major Hasan while sifting through everyone’s communications. What naturally follows is a push to tighten the screws on our civil rights even more.

We should not be surprised when our enforcement agencies demand more power to do that, arguing the shreds of constraints that remain inhibit their abilities to protect life, as we now know it.

What this actually demonstrates is that no matter how unlimited their power, their success is limited by human fallibility. The reason agents decided to ignore the e-mail wit the al Qaeda guy is that there seemed to be a explanation for the missives that looked like they were part of an academic study.

Fair enough. Sad as this was, maybe we have to give credit to them for balancing their power to abuse with common sense. I guarantee you, however, that the simpletons in politics and punditry will join with the law enforcement community to demand more ability to invade our privacy, to take away even the slightest chance they might miss something.

Of course they will be taking away more than that. We will have to forfeit even more of our freedom to go about living without Big Brother monitoring our every move. Major Hasan and his cohorts who apparently hate America will be mighty proud of how they will have taken a little more of our country away from us.

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