Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Optimism about the Future

I was talking to someone about a New York Times story “U.S. Is Examining a Plan to Bolster the Rights of Detainees.” The story contains the line:

Those changes include strengthening the rights of defendants, establishing more independent judges to lead the panels and barring confessions obtained by torture, the officials said.

I made a snide comment about just including those confessions in the secret evidence that we won’t show defense attorneys. He commented that it’s actually a step forward, and he’s right. I am deeply saddened that the United States is taking a step forward to exclude torture-derived evidence, but glad that things are heading back towards normal.

The pessimist in me says that there are liberties that we’ll never regain. The banking system is probably a permanently tied to “know thy customer” rules. Air travel will never again be as easy as it was. Tourism will never get back to where it was. The psychological intrusiveness of measures chosen for the US Visit program deter visitors from coming to the US. Even if you think the program is useful, it could have been better implemented. Poor choices include fingerprinting vs other biometrics such as hand geometry which aren’t associated with criminality, and the extensive secondary uses of data, so that it continues to track you through your entire life, not just your entry and exit to the US.

We don’t know what great things might have happened with the liberty that we’ve lost. We’ve chosen to accept fear over hope. To allow fear and pessimism to infect our thinking. I’ll try to do better. To laugh at the fearmongers, rather than cry. To pursue happiness.

2 comments on "Optimism about the Future"

  • beri says:

    Politics goes in cycles, like the moon. Someday they will be out of office. Meanwhile, don’t allow them to drive you to despair. That’s what they want–that you/we will be demoralized and give up.
    Ours is not to complete the task, but at the same time, we cannot avoid starting or working on the task.

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