Bruce Schneier

There is Value in People Being Afraid


Bruce Schneier, cryptographer, computer security specialist, writer, and author, discusses the Justice Department’s bogus prosecutions of barely-terrorists in the JFK, Ft. Dix, Lackawanna, Miami and other cases, the increasing danger to Americans’ liberties due to the large numbers of new Joint Terrorism Task Forces across the country and their temptation to entrap the innocent, the rise of the domestic security industrial complex, the economics of airline security, information as the answer to the problem of consolidated power, the government’s data mining programs and the death of the Real ID.

MP3 here. (39:01)

Bruce Schneier is an American cryptographer, computer security specialist, writer, and author. He is the author of several books on computer security and cryptography including Applied Cryptography and Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. He is the founder and chief technology officer of BT Counterpane.

57 thoughts on “Bruce Schneier”

  1. Goran sez: “as for your “CENTERS OF POWER” please explain what that means.”

    As I mean it, a center of power some kind of group which has some influence.

    – Hizbollah is a center of power
    – Hamas is a center of power
    – any government is a center of power
    – a kingdom is a center of power
    – a social justice movement is a center of power
    – Hells angels is a center of power
    – Microsoft is a center of power
    – The NRA is a center of power
    – Anti abortion groups are center of power
    – pro-life groups are center of power

    Each of these groups have some influence. How much power/influence the group has depends on the group (how motivated the members are, how much resources they have, how organised they are, how large they are). Furthermore, what the group decides to do with its influence can be good, bad, or a mix.

    The point of joining a movement/group is to: 1) increase the power of the movement/group, 2) sway it in the direction you want

    It should come as no surprise that Israel is always trying to knock off the most powerful resistance group. When Fatah was strong, it was the enemy and Hamas the friend. When Hamas became stronger, IT became the enemy and Fatah the friend. Israel wants to knock off Hizbollah, because Hizbollah is by far the most important resistance group in Lebanon.

    Other perspective on the entire business of power centers: when the US knocked off Hussein in Iraq, other groups emmerged. For instance, the Al-Sadr group isn’t a government, but it sure has a lot of power. There’s effectively no government in Iraq, and things aren’t better off for it.

    The world isn’t just as simple as “let’s get rid of government and things will be fine”.

    The irony of it all is that Scott, by his activism, is trying to build a movement (Libertarian). Libertarianism will only come about if you guys organize, get together, and get involved in politics. In order to destroy what you loath, you need to become what you loath. But if you succeed, it will be in your interest to stay what you loath 🙂 Libertarians will need to be a center of power if they hope to fight the negative center of powers.

    A bad government is bad people prevailing over good people in the political arena. If you want to prevail over bad people, you will need to group and be more powerful that the bad people. And if you do this, you CAN have a good government. Essentially, Scott is un-Libertarian by trying to build up a movement to “fight the war party”.

    BTW, you always list the bad things coming out of governments, but you self servingly always avoid mentioning the good things (the shades of gray that I mentionned, and which you claim to have read in my messages).


  2. “# Scott Horton Says:
    April 13th, 2008 at 11:39 am

    By the way, I have great respect for Bruce Schneier and the vast majority of leftists, rightists, liberals, conservatives, moderates and other people with whom I disagree on many things. Being a socialist on airport security doesn’t make one worth dismissing by a long shot. So let’s all get along and fight the War Party.”

    And there lies all the difference. Scott and those affiliated with Antiwar, LewRockwell and a handful of other organizations, are the “remnant” that Nock mentioned. You’ll get no kudos from the elites or the hip, but you’ll at least have done the right thing.

    I’ve yet to stumble upon a leftist website with the same integrity and disinterested approach to the world.

  3. Sorry i cant keep repeating myself here…its getting tiresome. You make a point about getting involved. I rebut calling government de facto immoral and violent , and then you ignore it saying to get involved. This merry go round could go on forever.

    I hope others reading this have benefited from the exchange.

    Steph is blind to the domestic violence of government – this is pervasive in our society, and this is the reason why i say that millions more will HAVE TO BE MURDERED BY THE STATE before these people wake up to the ugly nature of what government really is (i hope they will awake).

    One step at a time, some say? Stop war first then focus on domestic? You would never tell a husband “why dont you just beat your wife half as much as you do now…” thinking that you would convince him later to not beat her at all, would you?

    Anyway, please everyone keep an open mind to everything and let methodical logic be your guide. After all, historically ideas we take for granted now were once considered crazy. That uncomfortable feeling you get when the pillars of your ideas are being questioned usually mean your on the path to truth. Not an easy or popular path….but it is rewarding nonetheless…


  4. Goran sez: “Sorry i cant keep repeating myself here…its getting tiresome. You make a point about getting involved. I rebut calling government de facto immoral and violent , and then you ignore it saying to get involved. This merry go round could go on forever.”

    No Goran. It’s you seemingly not reading what I try to explain. For instance, you asked me to explain what I mean by power center, and I explained at lenght, giving you examples.

    Feel free to explain to me how there won’t be any other power center/interest groups once you topple all the governments in the world. Free free explain to me how you (the libertarians) intend to rid the world of governments.

    Hint: “government s are bad” isn’t a suitable answer to the questions I’m asking here 🙂

  5. Quote from Goran: “It includes every government that has ever been in existence because by definition, governments TAX, ie STEAL.”

    This is wrong and I will prove it. I me quote from John Médaille

    Quote: “Taxes are theft!” judges one reader of this humble blog, and more than a few libertarians would agree with him. As near as I can tell, this judgment is based on a view of man as a completely autonomous individual, dependent on no one but himself, answerable to no one, and subject to compulsion by no one. Under this view, to the degree that taxes are compelled they cannot be just.

    My problem with this view is that it does not describe any man or woman I have actually met. Every person of my acquaintance emerges not from autonomy, but from dependence.”

    How are all dependent on public goods? Let show by this example from Ernest Partridge.

    “Two communities are situated on opposite banks of a great river: on the right bank is “Randville,” and on the left bank is “Rawlsburg.” Randville is populated entirely by libertarians – rugged individualists all, who shun “collective” activity and who assume full responsibility for their personal safety, welfare and property. “Rawlsburg” is comprised of individuals who are properly covetous of their personal rights, yet fully aware of the desirability of promoting public goods and of acting collectively in the face of common emergencies.

    News arrives at both communities from (gulp!) a government bureau, that a great flood is approaching from upstream. The citizens of Randville immediately get to work piling sandbags around each of their individual dwellings. Across the river in Rawlsburg, brigades of citizens are hard at work building a levee around the entire town.

    Come the flood, the puny separate efforts of the rugged Randville individualists prove to be futile, while the substantial communal levee surrounding Rawlsburg holds firm and the community is spared.

    “Now hold on!,” the libertarian retorts. “Surely, faced with this common emergency, the folks at Randville would volunteer to build a levee. That’s just common sense.”

    Very well, but what about those Randvillians who say: “you guys go right ahead and build that levee. I’d rather stay at home – I have other priorities.” Surely the good libertarians wouldn’t want to force anyone to contribute to the common defense!

    And so we have the well-known “free rider problem,” whereby an individual gains unearned and cost-free advantage from the labor of others.”

    Since free riding is thief and taxes are the only way of avoiding free riders some taxes are just.

    Adam Smith understood the idea of moral sentiments and fact the individuals are not atomized but have social obligation because we are all dependent upon each other; the common good precedes any individual good. If this where not so then we could not say that mothers should have to feed their children agreeing with Murray Rothbard.

    And before you start screaming mindlessly about collectivism remember I’m talking about any sort of central planning but rather very basis of civilization and even tribal society. Goran is an Anarchist who wishes to destroy all human civilization and even humanity itself to make it fit his ideal liberalism.

  6. hmmm… government building levees… sounds like a good idea…. just like new orleans….tell me how that turned out……

    Oh but this was a “bad government” so its the citizens fault and you only are arguing for “good government”.

    Ill hopefully have more time to respond but im very busy lately

  7. I am libertarian, but can see a weakness in the libertarian argument. We argue from the perspective of economics, politics, and a naive theology of market forces. There are no market forces; their are humans who behave certain ways. We have made a god of mechanisms, denying the human behavior behind those forces. Corporations like governments will behave if limited. I want govenment limited. I want corporations limited when they begin to have the power of government, or use the intrumentality of government, to restrict the natural rights of the individual. How to solve this, I don’t know. I know that some corporations cannot be stopped by ‘market forces.’ They cannot be stopped because these corporations can, and do, stop the free flow of information.
    I am interested in reasoned comments about this.

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