We recall the tragic events of last week, when a crazed Asian man from Kent brought carnage to London’s streets. We still have no clear idea of his motivation for this attack. What we do know is that America needs protecting more than ever. If terror can happen in England, it can certainly happen here.
As always, we rely on our brave government agencies for our security. We must trust that they have sufficient powers and budget to stop all would-be ‘Lone Wolves’. What we do not need is the alt-right warning about ‘an ongoing encroachment of our civil liberties’. How exactly did ‘civil liberties’ help the poor victims in London?
Unfortunately, unlike organised terror groups, spotting a Lone Wolf is easier said than done. Lone Wolves are, by their nature, entirely unpredictable, operating completely alone. They could come from any strata of society, race, community, and certainly from any religion or none. Who can say what their motivations are?
It was for precisely this reason that, in his great wisdom, former Attorney General Eric Holder introduced anti-profiling rules in 2014. As the Washington Post reported at the time, “..expanded Justice Department rules for racial profiling [have been introduced] to prevent FBI agents from considering gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, in addition to race and ethnicity, when opening cases. The department also is banning racial profiling from national security cases for the first time.”
Imagine you are tasked with protecting America from a future terror incident. Perhaps you work at an airport, monitoring incoming passengers; or you may be a member of one of the country’s intelligence services.
Now, study the below profiles carefully and try to identify anyone who looks potentially dangerous.
Now you begin to get a grasp of just how difficult it is to spot the lone wolf: it could be any of these people, apart, of course, from the upbeat man in the first profile.
The only way of stopping a would-be Lone Wolf is an increase in surveillance. The government needs to increase its collaboration with Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and any other organisation it deems useful in the war against terror. Whilst the intelligence agencies can already access and record all your emails, phone calls, bank transactions, physical movements, conversations, social media accounts, shopping, this is not enough. The next challenge is for the government to be able to read your thoughts, predict your movements and actions, so as to prevent them from happening if necessary.
This is not the time to bleat about ‘privacy’. After all, if you have nothing to hide, what can you be worried about?