Chapter 7

HAL 9000Before even the initial shockwave of the 9/11 terrorist attacks had subsided, one thing was clear: the U.S. would strike back, and the gloves were coming off. Whoever could be reasonably determined to have been behind this attack would feel a major retaliation just as soon as it could be mounted.

Nearly six years later, news of those subsequent hours and days is still coming out. Amid the outrage and widespread international support for the U.S., there were also great fears of how far we would go with an inevitable military counterattack.

Domestically, other major moves went rapidly underway. We’d been struck within our borders, by terrorists who’d been living within our borders, and intelligence agencies soon began shifting policy and priority to address a home-grown threat.

The Total Information Awareness program was real, had been real long before 9/11, and (despite some occasional publicTIA Logo noise to the contrary) remains real and growing today, in 2007. The premise of this chapter is that, like our initial no-holds-barred reaction militarily, intelligence services also received a green light to do whatever they were able to do, however and wherever necessary, to find those responsible for the attacks.

When it came to pursuit of terrorists, there was little public sympathy in these first days for anyone concerned about violation of civil or Constitutional rights. Many pundits and politicians (and a lot of ordinary citizens) expressed a ready willingness to compromise those rights in the name of security, and legislation to facilitate the necessary crackdowns was drafted in surprisingly short order.

More information on the government’s real-life efforts to peer into our lives can be found here.