Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Connecting the dots

You’ll remember Ron Suskind’s explication of Cheney’s “one percent doctrine,” by which we have to act on vanishingly unlikely doomsday scenarios as if they were real. The equivalent to that in the debates on violent interrogations, warrantless eavesdropping etc is the metaphor that “we have to connect all the dots.” So while Rep. Peter King of NY, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said last week that “If we capture bin Laden tomorrow and we have to hold his head under water to find out when the next attack is going to happen, we ought to be able to do it” (did I mention this thug is the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee?), he’s missing the point: we have to listen in on every phone call, read every email message, and hold every head under water which might provide us, not with the location of a ticking bomb, but with any minuscule “dot,” some trivial piece of information that might possibly, when combined with dozens or hundreds of other dots extracted by similar means, add up to the location of a ticking bomb.

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