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  • A Gadsden Flag for Our Times

    Posted by Shannon Love on November 19th, 2010 (All posts by )

    Gadsden Flag, Don't Touch My Junk Version

    Gadsden Flag, Don't Touch My Junk Version

    Copyright © 2010 by Shannon Love and hereby placed in the public domain.

    Inspired by this Charles Krauthammer essay [h/t Instapundit]:

    Not quite the 18th-century elegance of “Don’t Tread on Me,” but the age of Twitter has a different cadence from the age of the musket. What the modern battle cry lacks in archaic charm, it makes up for in full-body syllabic punch.
     
    Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter.

    Political correctness has never been about helping the downtrodden. It has been about turning people’s compassion and courtesy into a weapon against them. Political correctness has always been the bully’s cudgel. At long last, it has been pushed to its breaking point of absurdity.

    As an aside, it is interesting what comes up when you google “Don’t Tread On Me”. I thought about using that one but “don’t touch my junk” wouldn’t have felt very sincere in that case.

     

    12 Responses to “A Gadsden Flag for Our Times”

    1. Dan from Madison Says:

      Awesome flag. When tailgating at Bears games we always use the First Navy Jack (traditional version, with snake – my favorite flag of all time) as our top flag with the Bears flag underneath.

    2. purpleslog Says:

      Well done!

    3. Charles Cameron Says:

      Thanks, Shannon.

      I just sent this — not really expecting a response, but hope springs eternal…

      Dr. Krauthammer:

      I’m a sometime blogger at ChicagoBoyz, where my colleague Shannon Love just gave you a hat-tip with a post entitled “A Gadsden Flag for Our Times” – including a graphic that I think you’ll enjoy:

      http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/17519.html

      Shannon’s post sent me to your own Washington Post piece:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/18/AR2010111804494.html

      where you wrote, “the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known”.

      I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments with airport security — I always forget I’m wearing a catheter and leg-bag until an official from public safety feels them up — but with an enemy who understands the general idea of profiling and expends effort to recruit in ways that will reroute around it, I’m not convinced you’re right.

      It’s hard to discuss the matter openly, though, without some sort of agreement as to what the “narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known” profile of an airline attacker would be — could you let me know your definition, or (better) make it the centerpiece of a follow-up op-ed?

      Thanks.

      Charles Cameron

    4. Shannon Love Says:

      Charles Cameron,

      Thanks for the kind thought.

      …but with an enemy who understands the general idea of profiling and expends effort to recruit in ways that will reroute around it, I’m not convinced you’re right.

      It might seem that terrorist can simply “reroute” around any security profile but in reality they cannot easily do so. Their talent pool is far more restricted than you might think. Even though there are 1.1 billion Muslims in the world the number of them in the last three decades who’ve proven willing to carry out suicide attacks is less than 3,000. The vast majority of those fit the profile. They simply don’t have a large and variable population to draw suicide attackers from.

      You just can’t go to Walmart and pick out a terrorist that doesn’t fit the profile. Profiling works with terrorist for the same reason it works with serial killers. The very factors about the person which drive them to commit terrorism create the profile. People that don’t fit the profile don’t have those factors and will be very unlikely to commit terrorism just like people who don’t fit a serial killers profile are unlikely to be serial killers.

      The odds of them finding a elderly woman from Minnesota to carry out a suicide attack is virtually zero.

      Think of it this way. In theory, the IRA could have recruited non-Irish, non-Catholic, non-Marxist, non-European to carry out their attacks but in reality they would have had a hard time finding someone in Africa or Japan to fight and die for the freedom of Ireland. Profiling IRA as at least being of European dissent would have let you catch the vast majority of IRA terrorist.

      Moreover, the process of attempting to recruit people outside the profiles demographic make it more likely that the recruitment attempt will expose the terrorist network or let us insert agent inside them. That is especially true since we’ve destroyed their physical operational and training bases and forced them to scatter. They don’t have the ability to take someone to a controlled environment and examine them for a long time.

      Profiling isn’t perfect but it does allow us to concentrate finite resources on the small subset of the population likely to cause problems. It sucks for the innocent people who fit the profile but it is a much better trade off than treating every single human on the planet that flies as equally likely to carry out a suicide attack.

    5. Charles Cameron Says:

      As a side-note, I’d add that in Europe, the Islamists are not the only folks to worry about… The Executive Summary of the European European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 is worth reading in this regard, if only for the snapshot it gives of the diversity of current terrorist activities — “Islamist terrorism is still perceived as the biggest threat to most Member States, despite the fact that only one Islamist terrorist attack – a bomb attack in Italy – took place in the EU in 2009 … Separatist terrorism continues to be the type of terrorism which affects the EU most in terms of the number of attacks carried out … In 2009, the total number of left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks in the EU increased by 43% compared to 2008 … Hungary reported four right-wing terrorist attacks in 2009 … Two single-issue terrorist attacks were reported in 2009.”

      So how would one profile for terrorists in London, in Barcelona, in Vatican City?

    6. Charles Cameron Says:

      I’m sorry, Shannon — a malfunction ate the majority of a longer comment, and left only the final paragraph above. I’ll try to reconstruct my comment and repost it.

    7. Charles Cameron Says:

      Here we go…

      Thanks, Shannon:

      I guess this is the point at which I should ask you what you mean by “profile” and what your profile of a terrorist, for TSA purposes, would look like.

      I ask this partly because knowing what your “profile” (or Krauthammer’s) would consist of would make it easier for us to discuss the various constitutional, moral, and methodological issues involved — to get some idea of what the likelihoods of false positives and false negatives as compared to positive identifications might be, who (whether at home and abroad) might feel discriminated against and respond negatively, or be easier to recruit as a result, and who might be both able and likely to slip through the cracks — but also because I have the sense that the meaning of the word “profile” itself is not easy to pin down.

      *

      In the situation of TSA officers and terrorism, I have the sense that the “profile” would be a fairly simple checklist of such things as gender, age, name, nationality, ethnicity, or faith, with the right pattern of positives leading to some form of search, but when used of serial killers, I suspect the word would refer to a less cut-and-dried set of markers, closer to a set of personality traits perhaps, that insightful investigators could keep an eye out for in the course of interviews, examinations of crime scenes, documents, etc.

      Being an inquisitive sort, I took a look at the FBI’s Serial Murder report, and found the following on p.14:

      Attendees at the Serial Murder Symposium agreed that there is no generic profile of a serial murderer. Serial killers differ in many ways, including their motivations for killing and their behavior at the crime scene. However, attendees did identify certain traits common to some serial murderers, including sensation seeking, a lack of remorse or guilt, impulsivity, the need for control, and predatory behavior. These traits and behaviors are consistent with the psychopathic personality disorder. Attendees felt it was very important for law enforcement and other professionals in the criminal justice system to understand psychopathy and its relationship to serial murder.

      And profiling terrorists doesn’t seem to be any easier. From a 2007 Washington Post piece:

      With new plots surfacing every month, police across Europe are arresting significant numbers of women, teenagers, white-skinned suspects and people baptized as Christians — groups that in the past were considered among the least likely to embrace Islamic radicalism.
      .
      The demographics of those being arrested are so diverse that many European counterterrorism officials and analysts say they have given up trying to predict what sorts of people are most likely to become terrorists. Age, sex, ethnicity, education and economic status have become more and more irrelevant.
      .
      “It’s very difficult to make a profile of terrorists,” Tjibbe Joustra, the Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism, said in an interview. “To have a profile that you can recognize, so that you can predict, ‘This guy is going to be radical, perhaps he will cross the line into terrorism’ — that, I think, is impossible.”
      .
      European authorities said the trait patterns of those arrested on terrorism charges are constantly shifting. In the Netherlands, officials said they are seeing an increase in the number of young teenagers and people of Turkish descent, two groups that used to be low on their radar. Among the key players in the Hofstad group, a cell of Islamic radicals that targeted Dutch politicians and cultural figures, was Jason Walters, the teenage son of a U.S. soldier.

      And that’s just the Islamists.

      *

      I’d add that in Europe, the Islamists are not the only folks to worry about…

      The Executive Summary of the European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 is worth reading in this regard, if only for the snapshot it gives of the diversity of current terrorist activities:

      Islamist terrorism is still perceived as the biggest threat to most Member States, despite the fact that only one Islamist terrorist attack – a bomb attack in Italy – took place in the EU in 2009 … Separatist terrorism continues to be the type of terrorism which affects the EU most in terms of the number of attacks carried out … In 2009, the total number of left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks in the EU increased by 43% compared to 2008 … Hungary reported four right-wing terrorist attacks in 2009 … Two single-issue terrorist attacks were reported in 2009.

      So how would one profile for terrorists in London, in Barcelona, in Vatican City?

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      Charles Cameron,

      So how would one profile for terrorists in London, in Barcelona, in Vatican City?

      The same way you would profile for an IRA terrorist. You would look for males 14-30 from the appropriate ethnic group with certain patterns of travel and documentation. By monitoring the groups themselves, you could develop data trails that narrow that down further.

      More importantly, European terrorists have never shown an interest in the kind of mass casualty attacks that we so fear from Muslim extremist. European terrorists understand that such attacks will boomerang on them in the court of public opinion. Muslim extremists have few such fears. If a European extremist gets on a plane, they will try to hijack it, not destroy it in the air. Of course, post-911, no passengers or air crew will allow a hijacking to succeed.

      Attendees at the Serial Murder Symposium agreed that there is no generic profile of a serial murderer.

      Profiling for serial killers works differently than profiling for terrorist. With serial killers, you develop the profile from the details of the crimes they have already committed. Different crimes create different profiles. That is why there is no generic profile for serial killers. You can’t use profiling to find serial killers before they kill. You use profiling to focus the investigation on those individuals whom you encounter during the investigation who fit the profile. You have to do this because unlike most murderers serial killers usually have no preexisting relationship with the victims.

      With terrorism, you are trying to prevent attacks so you create a profile of the kind of person who commits terrorist attacks so that you can focus security precautions on a subset of the population instead of casting a broad and useless net.

      Remember the tradeoff. Treating everyone as a potential terrorist presents equal risk. First, it grants the terrorist a propaganda victory by making them seem so powerful and omnipresent that everyone who flies must undergo a tiring and degrading search. Every time a person gets frisk, its another psyops point for the terrorist.

      Secondly, by trying to treat everyone as a threat we cast a net so wide and diffuse that real terrorist can easily slip through. The underwear bomber slipped through two checkpoints in Africa and Europe largely because the system was so saturated checking grandmothers that they couldn’t detect him out of the millions of harmless passengers. Had his explosives been better formulated he might have succeeded in destroying the plane.

      The real truth is that we have a system that is breaking down. We are strangling off air travel. The time and expense of treating absolutely everyone as a threat is failing. By trying to defend against everyone, we defend against no one. By refusing to recognize that terrorist have patterns, we are letting terrorist slip through.

      Don’t fall for the myth the terrorist propagate that they are omnipotent and can strike anywhere at anytime using anyone. Creating that myth is the entire goal of terrorism. If terrorist had as much flexibility as you believe, they would have switched to alternative operatives already. Yet, here 9 years after 9/11 they have never managed to do so. Hell, one of the easiest ways to alter their profile is to buy a two way ticket, yet few if any attempted suicide attackers have done so. Why? Because they just don’t have the money. These attacks are carried out on a shoestring.

      Terrorists have operational limitations just like formal militaries do. They have a highly restricted manpower pool. The psychological factors that drive people to commit terrorism means their manpower pool has a distinct psychological fingerprint. They have limited money and limited technical expertise which limits what weapons they can employ.

      Don’t let theory and unlikely hypotheticals dominate your thinking. Stick with what has actually happened. If profiling doesn’t work, why have the Israeli been so successful using it? What attacks have actually occurred using personnel that would not fit a defined profile of sex, age, religion, pattern of travel etc?

      Let me offer this challenge. Can you point to a single airline related act of terrorism that could not have been stopped just by intensively checking males, 14-35, flying alone?

      Heck, just profiling for sex and age would catch most the terrorist attempts against airlines.

    9. VictorWhatsYourVector Says:

      Shannon,

      Thanks for the laugh, and thanks for the freedom to pass it on with a clear conscience! (“and hereby placed in the public domain”)

      Charles,

      Really?

      You want to argue that those that fit a profile “might feel discriminated against and respond negatively”?

      I think the fall-out could be MUCH worse. I think that they (or we, as the case may be) could become, gasp, …”offended”.

    10. Charles Cameron Says:

      Shannon:

      Thanks. I think we’re in agreement on a great deal here, and in particular I agree that the present system gives AQ a significant victory — that’s the sort of thing that most concerns me here, not because of the inconvenience so much as the ripples of impact through our culture and theirs — but I have to go and fetch one of my boys for the day now, and won’t be able to detail my agreements and quibbles for a while.

      Victor:

      You quoted me with your eyebrow raised as saying those that fit a profile “might feel discriminated against and respond negatively” and I suppose that’s what happens to traditional British understatement here in Chicagoland…

      I’m suggesting that disaffected kids across the globe are pushed one step closer to recruitment by anything they see reported as Islam-bashing, and that that’s a security aspect that we should take into account in whatever we do “about terrorism”.

    11. renminbi Says:

      A few years ago a Chechen woman blew up a Russian airliner. Aparently she bribed security there.

    12. skh.pcola Says:

      Charles and Shannon,

      You have both expanded the discussion from TSA malfeasance or abuse into one about terrorism in general. True, there are terrorists (anarchists, separatists, nationalists, etc.) who don’t fit the profile. However, when you confine yourself to suicide bombers–the identification of which is the focal point of TSA groping–you’ll find that those “other” terrorists do not fit that profile. Outside of a few isolated incidents, suicide bombers are Muslim. We shouldn’t be scared or embarrassed to say that out loud and insist on the TSA using the most effective procedures to ensure the safety of the flying public.