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How The War Against Terrorism Has Become An Assault On Citizens

We are well past the tipping point, where governments are violating privacy and limiting the people's rights in the name of some faceless enemy.

luggage has become a national security issue
luggage has become a national security issue
José Fernando Isaza

-Op-ed-

BOGOTA- Many security measures at airports have become counterproductive, managing to improve security only marginally while significantly harming those the measures are ostensibly meant to protect. And government surveillance of citizens has spiraled out of control.

In the war on terrorism, in other words, we have reached a point of diminishing returns.

Consider airport scanners, for example. General knowledge says that the radiation received from them is about equal to the cosmic radiation to which travelers are exposed during one commercial flight. It is not clear whether it is similar to the ultraviolet radiation received without protection at that altitude. The scanners use ionizing X-ray radiation, and the duration of a security check is generally longer than that of a radiography. These devices are not as aggressive as a CT scan, but they are stronger than an X-ray. In the end, these measures put our health at risk and violate privacy in the name of protection.

If the authorities' response to the terrorist attacks on trains and subways in Europe were similar to the paranoid U.S. response, these modes of transportation would have collapsed by now and taken the economy with it, even before the economic crisis hit.

At least in Colombian airports, some of the security protocols seem designed to be contradictory. Security personnel will remove your nail clippers from hand baggage, then the flight crew will serve meals with metal cutlery. And in our day-to-day lives, we have become accustomed to feeling as if we're entering a high-security prison when going to virtually any public or private building, or worse, a university.

And what is the psychological and economic cost for citizens who know that their private or business conversations are being "monitored"? How can we be assured that these private exchanges won't be used as privileged information or be turned against us?

In a column last July, I mentioned the U.S. project to create a center that stores all the information generated from any part of the world. It seems as though, at least according to Edward Snowden, this project is advancing.

From Colombia to Russia

How can we guarantee that in Colombia, for example, the National Police Intelligence operates under different standards? On the one hand, the government requested telecommunications companies to "facilitate" interceptions through a decree issued 10 months ago. On the other, we are only learning about this now.

Another example can be found in the movie The Fourth State, a film based on actual events and directed by Dennis Gansel. It describes how some of the terrorist acts in Russia attributed to the Chechens were in fact executed by dark forces within the secret service. These were later used to justify "anti-terrorist" legislation.

The fear of terrorism inspires an excuse for governments to limit citizen rights and to approve legislation that violates privacy and the presumption of innocence. In the war against terrorism, it seems the citizens are losing and authoritarianism is winning.

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Geopolitics

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

Turkey's objections to Swedish membership of NATO may mean that Finland joins first. And as he approaches an election at home, Turkish President Erdogan is playing the game to his advantage.

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

January 11, 2023, Ankara (Turkey): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the International Conference of the Board of Grievances on January 11.

Turkish Presidency / APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — This story has all the key elements of our age: the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the excessive ambitions of an autocrat, the opportunism of a right-wing demagogue, Islamophobia... And at the end, a country, Sweden, whose NATO membership, which should have been only a formality, has been blocked.

Last spring, under the shock of the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin's Russia, Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries in northern Europe, decided to apply for membership in NATO. For Sweden, this is a major turning point: the kingdom’s neutrality had lasted more than 150 years.

Turkey's President Erdogan raised objections. It demanded that Sweden stop sheltering Kurdish opponents in its country. This has nothing to do with NATO or Ukraine, but everything to do with Erdogan's electoral agenda, as he campaigns for the Turkish presidential elections next May.

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