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James Woolsey on security versus liberty

There was an Interesting article by former CIA Director James Woolsey in the Guardian over the weekend, about “World War 4”. The White Rose relevant paragraphs, so to speak, are these ones, I think:

Liberty and security

If that is who is at war with us and why, what do we need to do about it, both inside our own countries and in the Middle East? Inside the US, during the Cold War and the decade of the 1990s after it, we became very used to the proposition that liberty and security do not conflict, that we do not need to worry about that. Liberty we had plenty of, or as much as almost any reasonable, modern society could, and security was something that the navy, the Central Intelligence Agency and so on dealt with overseas. September 11 rather changed that.

The US at least has to understand that for a number of years we will have to face conflicts between liberty and security that did not occur before. We really did have people who were legally in the United States training in aircraft simulators to work out how to kill thousands of Americans. There really were terrorist cells in places like Lackawanna, Pennsylvania.

So we are going to do things that are effective against terrorism, and which may involve steps like special scrutiny of Wahhabi-backed charities, for example, that would not have happened prior to September 11. We also have to realise who we are. We are not a race or a culture or a language. We are creatures of fourth US President James Madison’s Constitution and his Bill of Rights. We can never forget that.

These two conflicting concerns – security and liberty – are going to be with us for a long time. They will conflict in ways they did not appear to before September 11. We have to choose wisely and remember both. We cannot forget the need to be effective, not just politically correct, in the way we deal with the real threats to us. We also cannot forget the Bill of Rights.

This is the X is important BUT argument. The “but” turns everything before it upside down. So look out X, which in this case means look out liberty.

I’m not saying that this man is totally wrong. I’m just saying: he’s saying it.

1 comment to James Woolsey on security versus liberty

  • Woolsey is quite right to say that the free world is at war. What he doesn’t seem to realise is that people like the CIA and Big Blunkett are the enemy.