Feeds

The terrorists I party with

Another round for my friends

Top three mobile application threats

My terrorist buddies

So we have just seen two examples, one each of the two modes whereby the press enabled George W Bush to make such an enormous mess of things and get away with it. First, by sensationalising dangers and exaggerating threats, thereby frightening people and encouraging them to acquiesce to outrageous government intrusions and burdens on human rights and civil liberties without question. And second, by neglecting to check the statements of government officials for accuracy before passing them along for public consumption.

Before 9/11, there were occasions when I would be ashamed to say that I'm a journalist. At that time I covered Infosec primarily, and would occasionally wince with embarrassment when some dupe journo would inevitably believe that "hackers" posed a threat to life and limb. The press is always sowing fear to sell papers.

Since 9/11, I've needed to keep a supply of sick bags handy at all times. The fear mongering related to Islamic terrorists has now reached the level of terrorism itself. Wild exaggeration is the norm: every incident is a potential catastrophe; every wannabe clown is a battle-hardened jihadi; al Qaeda is everywhere and stronger than ever; Osama is ready to pounce at any moment.

What do we call people who sow fear, hoping to intimidate the public with threats of violence to advance their own interests? What's the word I'm looking for?

Yes, that's right; we call them terrorists. The Bush Administration certainly qualifies as a terrorist organisation: it has played the fear card for political advantage so many times, it's virtually impossible to cite an instance when they didn't exaggerate the threats facing Americans today.

But what about organisations with an economic rather than a political motive? News organisations want to sell papers and attract viewers - and fear sells. If public anxiety is encouraged through deliberate distortions and exaggerations, as the mainstream media have been doing shamelessly since 9/11, is that not pushing the envelope?

When the UK media inflates the nitwits behind the recent car "bomb" fiasco into al-Qaeda operatives, and this in turn gives Gordon Brown the confidence he needs to call for the detention-without-charge limit to be increased to 56 days, have we not just been manipulated by fear in the political realm? And is that not pretty much the standard definition of terrorism?

I'll confess it; I go down the pub and drink with colleagues in the press. So, yeah, I party with terrorists a few times a week, and I breakfast with bin Laden almost every day. It's a wonder I'm not in a cell down at Gitmo. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.