The Boston Marathon bombings were horrifying, and the people of Boston are in my prayers, but as President Obama stated, "The American people refuse to be terrorized." Right after it happened, the president avoided called it a terrorist attack, but the FBI almost immediately called it an act of terrorism.
Last night, security and privacy guru Bruce Schneier wrote on The Atlantic:
We need to be angry and empathize with the victims without being scared. Our fears would play right into the perpetrators' hands -- and magnify the power of their victory for whichever goals whatever group behind this, still to be uncovered, has. We don't have to be scared, and we're not powerless. We actually have all the power here, and there's one thing we can do to render terrorism ineffective: Refuse to be terrorized.
In a question and answer interview with the Washington Post, Schneier stated:
Almost everything we have done post 9/11 is mere security theater. The stuff that did work was interdicting terrorist funding and rolling up terrorist networks. Unfortunately, the FBI relies so much on informants and moles that they essentially create terrorists out of disaffected youth - and that's not good. Some of what the FBI does is good, and some is not. But I wouldn't say we'd all be dead if not for the FBI or the Patriot Act.
John Cole on Balloon Juice wrote about retaining some perspective:
You are safe. I am safe. For the most part, especially with the last few decades of declining crime rates, we are the safest we have ever been.
Remember that the next few days during the media frenzy, if you must watch. I would recommend you don't. And I refuse to give up another right to prevent another "Boston," but you know there will be calls to "do something." We still take our god damned shoes off at airports because of a failed attempt. Lord only knows what is going to come down the pipeline now. The only thing we "need" to do is find the perpetrators, try them, convict them, and jail them for the rest of our lives as we go on with ours, and I have full faith that our collected government agencies can do this.
The bomber(s) isn't the only one who wants you to be afraid. Remember that.
CNN reported on the bombing details, but no suspects or motive have been determined yet. I'm not trying to be insensitive to tragedy, but as David Maynor, the CTO of Errata Security, tweeted, "If our current level of surveillance and personal intrusion did not stop this tragedy then nothing will. We must fight back by staying free." He had several tweets that corresponded with #iamnotscared.
Threatpost's Dennis Fisher has a Digital Underground podcast in which he also talks with Schneier about the Boston Marathon bombing and the psychology of fear.
David Rothkopf wrote on CNN:
Tragedies like these call for swift response from police and emergency workers, not to mention Homeland Security officials. But experience tells us that the ultimate accessories to the terrorist are the innocent and well-intentioned who spread and exaggerate the terror...It is time we used past lessons to ensure that we respond today and in the future better than we have in the past-with equal parts of both purpose and perspective, with as much focus on maintaining life as usual as in dealing with its cruel disruption.
If you believe in prayer, keep praying for the people and even for the authorities to quickly catch those responsible. But turn off the TV; watching the explosions again and again as well as commentators' wild fear-mongering speculation is bad for you. Don't give the sick person or people behind it any additional power by being scared. Don't be quick to call for even more security theater that will strip away even more of your privacy, civil liberties and freedom. As President Obama stated, "We will find whoever harmed our citizens, and we will bring them to justice. We also know this: the American people refuse to be terrorized."
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