Human Limits

Exploring performance and health with Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

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No One Wants Another 9/11

In my last post I made the point that no one should be that surprised that the government is collecting all sorts of electronic data and using it to try to detect and track suspicious activity by potential terrorists.  The revelation that a low level security contractor was responsible for the leaks and what to do about them and him has generated all sorts of debate.   That having been said, this whole incident makes me think about the post World War 2 “Red Scare” and the emergence of the so-called national security state after World War 2.  One of the justifications for the national security state is and was that “no one wants another Pearl Harbor”.


The extended quotes below come from the CIA website and are comments that President Eisenhower made at a news conference following the Soviet downing an American spy plane in May of 1960.  Eisenhower was a great man who understood the limits of military power and coined the phrase the military industrial complex warning about the perils of the national security state.  Here is video of Eisenhower’s farewell speech on January 17, 1961.   It seems to me that many of the issues he warned about in this speech and also discussed after the U-2 incident are still with us, and much of what he warned about has come to pass.  One question stemming for the tracking program is just how much tracking should we tolerate based on the concept of “no one wants another 9/11”.   I don’t have an answer for this complex question but it is certainly something that we all need to discuss and consider when we think about the kind of country and world we want to live in.


click to watch


 Excerpts of Ike’s Comments About the U-2 Incident

 “I HAVE MADE SOME NOTES FROM which I want to talk to you about this U-2 incident. . . .


“The first point is this: the need for intelligence-gathering activities.”


“No one wants another Pearl Harbor. This means that we must have knowledge of military forces and preparations around the world, especially those capable of massive surprise attacks.”


“Secrecy in the Soviet Union makes this essential. . . .”


” . . . ever since the beginning of my administration I have issued directives to gather, in every feasible way, the information required to protect the United States and the free world against surprise attack and to enable them to make effective preparations for defense.”


“My second point: the nature of intelligence-gathering activities.”


“These have a special and secret character. They are, so to speak, `below the surface’ activities.”


“They are secret because they must circumvent measures designed by other countries to protect secrecy of military preparations.”


“They are divorced from the regular visible agencies of government which stay clear of operational involvement in specified detailed activities.”


“These elements operate under broad directives to seek and gather intelligence short of the use of force–with operations supervised by responsible officials within this area of secret activities. . . .”


“These activities have their own rules and methods of concealment which seek to mislead and obscure– . . .”


“Third point: how should we view all of this activity?”


“It is a distasteful but vital necessity.”


“We prefer and work for a different kind of world–and a different way of obtaining the information essential to confidence and effective deterrents. Open societies; in the day of present weapons, are the only answer. . . .”


“My final point is that we must not be distracted from the real issues of the day by what is an incident of a symptom of the world situation today.”

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