Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Qui Custodes Custodiat?

There’s a brilliant post over at Orcinus about the 9/11 commission, whose (outstanding) report I’m just getting around to reading.

Really, if the Kerry campaign is serious about persuading the American public that Bush is a serious liability when it comes to securing the nation from the terrorist threat, this should be Exhibit A: Bush fought the formation of the 9/11 commission for a year, and continued to fight its work throughout.

This isn’t about politics as it seems to be practiced today, with a storm of invective and attacks. It’s about an honest look at what went wrong, and preventing it from happening again. That’s a process that requires openness and honesty, not blind trust, and not requests for such.

During the fights over cryptography laws in the 90s, we spent a great deal of time on the claim from high-ranking government officials, “If you knew what we knew, you’d agree with us.” This claim was put to rest by a dozen generals, admirals, ambassadors, and former spies who served on the National Research Council’s report Cryptography’s Role in Securing the Information Society. That report plainly stated that while details of operations needed to remain secret, the arguments themselves had all been discussed openly. In much the same way, those details that have come out have argued strongly against secrecy. Condoleezza Rice’s description of the (then classified) “Bin Ladin determined to strike in US” Presidential Daily Brief as “purely historical” is exhibit A.