Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Could Dissertation Be a Security Threat?

Bill Hobbs has an interesting post on a George Mason University grad student's dissertation. The student, Sean Gorman, has compiled what Hobbs describes as "a computerized mapping of every business and industrial sector in the American economy, layering on top the fiber optic network that connects them." In short, a potential treasure map for terrorists complete with prime targets marked and highlighted. It was also compiled however, with information from the public domain, all found freely on the internet. How do you perform the delicate balance of weighing free speech against the public safety in this case? Should it be published, or should it be classified? Hobbs offers this insight:
Our economy is built, torn down, and rebuilt bigger and better through a constant cycle of change and growth that economist Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction.

Islamic terrorism is about just destruction. The whole of the Islamic terror movement is based on defeating modernism and returning the Muslim world to the 13th Century. It is not about survival, creativity, growth and change, it is about death and destruction and rolling back 700 years of progress. It is a movement that will never invent something like the cell phone, the jet aircraft or the computer. It's a movement that uses Western technology - and virtually all technology is Western - but doesn't understand it and can't innovate it. Visit your local Circuit City store, your local pharmacy, your local computer store, your local auto dealer, or your local manufacturer of almost anything. You won't find a single product invented by Islamic fundamentalists.

The Islamic terror movements' biggest technological innovation in recent years was to turn a hijacked airliner into a flying bomb instead of a negotiating tool - and it took them about four decades to come up with it. Meanwhile, the heroes of Flight 93 came up with a counterattack in about 90 minutes, learning of the threat via cellphone calls to loved ones on the ground, and then coordinating the response that brought the plane down short of its intended target. al Qaeda's innovation, four decades in the making, was rendered obsolete in 90 minutes by a few average Americans.

In the race to use information and innovate, I'm willing to bet on Americans over the terrorists.

I would say that's a good bet. The article in the Washington Post is a fascinating one, CIO's of large corporations, when presented with the research were shocked to realize how interdependent and at some points fragile, their networks actually are. It is causing them to examine these vulnerabilities and close them. George Mason University, as of now, is planning on publishing only the most general aspects of the work. Stay tuned.


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