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Article posted Jan 01 2014, 3:39 AM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Techdirt Print

Washington Post Columnist Says 'Complainers' Will Be At Fault For Next Terrorist Attack

by Mike Masnick

When last we wrote about Washington Post columnist and knee-jerk defender of the surveillance state, Walter Pincus, he was writing bizarre, factually incorrect claims about Glenn Greenwald (claiming Greenwald was associated with Wikileaks when he was not). When this massive error (on which Pincus based his entire column) was pointed out, Pincus eventually, grudgingly admitted to being wrong, but somehow couldn't figure out how to update his story.

While a long and detailed "correction" was eventually placed on the article, Pincus continues to blindly support the surveillance state, and his latest column whines about how the NSA may have to stop violating the 4th Amendment and suggests that this will lead us to being attacked again. Even worse, he argues that this will be the fault of "complainers" while his poor friends at the NSA will take the blame:
If there is another attack, today’s complainers may be as much at fault as the intelligence community, which nonetheless will get most of the criticism.
The crux of his argument is actually the preceding sentence, which is based on a flawed belief that the more you collect, the more likely you are to find the threats:
If the White House and Congress make changes now under discussion, it looks like the NSA may be collecting fewer dots and a smaller number of people will have access to all of them — so connections may be missed.
Of course, connections may be missed for any of a long list of reasons -- including the reasons that connections were missed that would have highlighted the 9/11 terrorists: the intelligence community screwed up. Having more information is generally not the solution, because that just makes it harder to find the relevant information. Even more bizarre, Pincus' argument is the equivalent of saying that we should have no privacy at all, because it might stop a single terrorist attack, despite no evidence to support that.

What amazes me about these defenders of the surveillance state is that they seem to have no concept at all of a "cost/benefit" analysis. To them "more" is always better, no matter what the costs. The idea that there are costs to doing all this doesn't even enter into the equation. This makes for poor policy and incredibly dumb analysis.

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