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Indignant and illegal fictions

One of the most disgusting pieces of legislation to be passed in the past decade in the UK — and it faces some stiff competition — is the badly thought-out and draconian Terrorism Act of 2006.

Among other things, this piece of legislation created several new crimes — including the rather peculiar one of "glorifying terrorism". The proximate justification for this offense seems to be public indignation at the sight of preachers praising suicide bombers in Iraq and Israel from the pulpit, but the effect of it is corrosive — it undermines political free speech. Just consider for a moment the vexing question of who is, or isn't, a terrorist. Is Nelson Mandela? Certainly if this law had been on the books in the 1980s it's possible that supporters of the ANC would have been prosecuted. Is the animal rights movement supportive of terrorists? Is Sinn Fein? Once you get into the gritty business of trying to pin down who is and isn't a terrorist you end up with a peculiar conjugation: "I am a freedom fighter, you are a guerilla, they are terrorists". It all depends on where you stand, and consequently this nonsensical piece of legislation went through on the nod with an appendix explaining that the IRA aren't terrorists (they're good guys now that they put down their guns) and neither was the ANC, and Menachem Begin couldn't possibly be a terrorist (despite Irgun Zvai Leumi's habit of kidnapping and killing British soldiers back in the day) ... only funny people we don't approve of or want to talk to are terrorists.

Oh, and they forgot to define "glorifying". In fact, they drew the net so widely that they forgot to leave out political satire, or works of fiction.

I'd therefore like to commend to your attention a curious little book titled, appropriately enough, "Glorifying Terrorism". It's an anthology of science fiction stories dedicated to demonstrating the asinine nature of this piece of reactionary and censorious rubbish by breaking the law. Featuring illegal stories by Kathryn Allen, Chaz Brenchley, Marie Brennan, Hal Duncan, Suzette Haden Elgin, Kira Franz, Van Aaron Hughes, Davin Ireland, Gwyneth Jones, Vylar Kaftan, Lucy Kemnitzer, H. H. Løyche, Ken MacLeod, Una McCormack, Adam Roberts, Elizabeth Sourbut, Katherine Sparrow, Kari Sperring, myself, Rachel Swirsky, Lavie Tidhar, James Trimarco, Jo Walton, Ian Watson, and Ian Whates, this is the most political SF anthology published in the UK for a very long time.

You can buy it here.

107 Comments

1:

A thought occurs to me - I wonder if various aspects of the American Revolution could be considered "terrorism"?

Oh hell - "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" directly glorifies terrorism - John Brown. What would happen to this legislation if anybody singing that was arrested?

2:

It looks like a political cudgel to be wielded against anyone for anything the government wants. Hell, Hammer's Slammers seem to qualify as glorification of terrorism under that law.

3:

The AmRev? Oh hell yes. Francis "The Swamp Fox" Marion springs immediately to mind. A truly gifted terrorist, bloody-minded as al-Zwahari(sp?) but smarter. Damn near all the fighting between Tory and Patriot militias probably fits the bill.

4:

Tony, Steve: that's exactly what makes it so bloody odious.

The current British government is no friend of free speech -- witness their attempt to ban political demonstrations outside Parliament -- but this Act pushes back the boundary even further. It wouldn't fly in the US (not without gutting the First Amendment), but over here the Human Rights Act is somewhat less entrenched, and includes a number of loopholes in the freedom of speech (and other) coverage.

5:

So what we need is a bloody-minded policeman willing to demonstrate the absurdity of teh law...

6:

THANK YOU for the heads-up - I've just bought a copy, and taken great pleasure in doing so.

I have also appreciated reading your well-researched posts on the ID Cards fiasco. I have no reliable fingerprints (eczema will do that to you...), so you can imagine how much I am looking forward to arguing my way into every public service in the UK.

Keep us posted!

7:

Interesting isn't it? We have a govt that legislates against sin; much easier than actually dealing with the problems.

Something similar happened with swords in Scotland - some thugs started stabbing each other with sharpened (cheap fake) samurai swords, so - instead of addressing the law and order problem - the local escapees from Old Labour councils who pass for a Scottish Parliament drew up a loosely worded sword ban, with cats-paw style delegated powers to the local curtain twitchers.

End result is that local swordsmiths supplying theatre and reenactment will be burdened with red tape, but we can still by sharp antique sabres off ebay.

8:

So how do I buy this book if I'm neither British, nor American?
Those are the only two prices listed

Any chance of getting Baen to publish an e-book version?

9:

Spot on Charlie :b It never ceases to amaze that people are willing to give up so much of their freedom in order to protect themselves from "terrorism"... Coupled with everything else that's been going on since 9/11 it's really quite terrifying... If this keeps up in 25 years people will wake up and ask themselves "why didn't we stop this quasi-fascist crap when we had a chance?"

Thanks for the heads up on the book, I'll see if it's available in Sweden... I'm slowly working my way through your books, I have read most of them by now. I'm finishing Toast now, and I have Jennifer Morgue and Missile Gap left to read. I'm saving The Merchant Princes for later, I'm so fed up with fantasy right now. I bought Guy Gavriel Kays "The Sarantine Mosaic" and it bored me out of my mind, despite it being only 1000 pages and a initially promising storyline...

I have no doubt you have a different and quirky take on the fantasy genre though. At least I hope you have... ;-)

Keep up the good work and sorry for the rambling...

10:

Matija: Rackstraw is a small publisher and your email enquiry (when you send it) will be attended to personally. And I'm sure they'll find a way to mail a copy to you when they know where you live.

Baen, ebook version ... um. I shall mention that to the publisher when I see her!

Zoid: the Merchant Princes books may surprise you -- by book 4 (due out this autumn) the SF underpinnings should be pretty obvious.

11:

Protagonist knows right from wrong, put his life on the line to fight wrong, even when official enforcers are corrupt. This plot skeleton has been repurposed into new genres, especially in the Angloamerican world where this is part of the default national self-image.

The genre of the Western was gradually displaced by the noir urban Detective genre, which was itself displaced by the Science Fiction genre.

Will "Terrorist Fiction" be the new dominant genre?

12:

THE RAT THAT STOLE THE WORLD
by
Jonathan V. Post

With a gun in his hand
and the airbase in flames
with a voice of command
gun loaded, he aims
from the Rio Grande
to the sheriff's brains


The gun is a laser
the brain is yours
at your throat, the razor
down on all fours
the dead star-gazer
and the matadors


The gun's at your head, the laser's hot
when the thinker's jailed, and the artist shot.

2200-2300
21 jun 77

http://magicdragon.com/EmeraldCity/Poetry/Political.html

13:

Great cover! I'm collecting mine on Saturday at Picocon.

Y

14:

A few science fiction authors, mainly in the military sub0genre have looked at the line between terrorists and freedom fighters... One that comes to mind is Michael Z. Williamson with "The Weapon" where the protagonist was in command of the group that managed to kill 6 billion people, mostly civilians, on Earth.

The point is made that this was not a disproportionate response, Earth forces had killed the same proportion of civilians on his home planet, a former Earth colony.

For the most part, the general media definition of a Terrorist is a fighter on the weaker side of an asymmetrical war, who our government doesn't like. Thus communist guerrillas in central America were terrorists in the 1980's, while the Contras, who we sold guns to, and were fighting a communist government were "freedom fighters."

As far as i am concerned there IS an actual objective line between guerrillas and terrorists... generally ignored for political expediency. Guerrillas may attack civilian infrastructure to weaken the opposing military... civilian casualties are collateral damage, Terrorist directly attack civilians looking for maximum body count... infrastructure damage is collateral, and beside the point.

But of course, the media never seems to catch the difference, it might keep them from being invited to the next spoon feeding press conference.

15:
A few science fiction authors, mainly in the military sub0genre have looked at the line between terrorists and freedom fighters.
Read Greg Bear's "The Wind from a Burning Woman". He wrote it specifically to see if he could make the immorality of terrorism evident even when all the readers' sympathies lie with the terrorist.
16:

The point is made that this was not a disproportionate response, Earth forces had killed the same proportion of civilians on his home planet, a former Earth colony.

No, Williamson made the "point" that it wasn't terrorism because it was ordered by a legitimate government. Fuck that; it was terrorism by the definitions used in the real world; vis "the deliberate use of force against civilians to achieve a political goal".

Williamson just didn't have the guts to come out and say "Hey, it was terrorism but *justified* by the proportion of civilians killed on the protaganist's home world". Said message would probably sit uneasy in the States right now...

17:
It never ceases to amaze that people are willing to give up so much of their freedom in order to protect themselves from "terrorism"...
And this is precisely the objective of the terrorist. See the writings of Mao, or the old edition of the US Army Field Manual on Guerilla and Insurgency Warfare (I haven't read the new one, that Gen. Petraeus contributed to).

Once the target population forts up against the terror, they have to commit major fractions of their military and intelligence resources to maintain the fortress, meaning that much less to confront the terrorists with, and the additional organization created to do it hampers everything they do. For instance, can anyone who's been through an airport security checkpoint in the US honestly say that the Transportation Security Agency is contributing anything to security other than getting in everyone's way?

18:
Williamson just didn't have the guts to come out and say "Hey, it was terrorism but *justified* by the proportion of civilians killed on the protaganist's home world". Said message would probably sit uneasy in the States right now...
I'm not so sure that it would sit uneasy. The dissatisfaction in the States with the war in Iraq has to do with the number of Americans killed there versus the perceived (and actual!) lack of effective and useful results.

I suspect that a large proportion of the US population would be quite happy if US forces bombed some Moslem country (pick one out of hat, or throw a dart at a map), with resultant civilian casualties greater than those in the 9/11 attacks, but no real military objective. There seem to be a lot of people who don't feel that they've gotten their proper revenge yet, whether it would amount to terrorism or not.

Maybe that's why there's so much anger in the argument over how many Iraqi civilian casualties there have been since the invasion: not that there are too many to accept, but that there are too few for a proper revenge for 9/11. :-(

19:

Williamson seems not to examine terrorism so much as revel in it. In The Weapon, he basically gives every indication of being a rabid, sociopathic, antidemocratic political extremist. His rantings on various ultraconservative websites seem to verify that he's a bit further to the right than John Ringo. Frankly, this guy is as far out of his poor little skull as Kim Jong-il.

(But pay me no attention, if you wish. After all, anyone who finds something to dislike in The Cassini Division has got to be a complete pansy, right?)

20:

Bruce: "I suspect that a large proportion of the US population would be quite happy if US forces bombed some Moslem country (pick one out of hat, or throw a dart at a map), with resultant civilian casualties greater than those in the 9/11 attacks, but no real military objective."

No, not at all. If there were a real military objective in view, if a serious threat to American interests could be destroyed by bombing a foreign country, a majority of the US population would consent to the bombing with clear consciences. But there's no popular support for sowing death and destruction at random, or as retaliation for past injuries. The goal of war, in the American mind, is not to make the enemy suffer; it's to remove either his desire, or his power, to trouble the US in any way.

Concretely, the current dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq has nothing at all to do with the number of Americans killed there, or the number of Iraqi civilians killed; it is entirely caused by the impression that Iraq is falling into chaos, and US forces aren't doing what they could to prevent it.

I haven't read The Weapon; I got 1/3 of the way through Williamson's first book Freehold, by which time it was clear that Williamson was stacking the deck. The planet Freehold was too much of a earthly paradise, and his Earth too far sunken in evil, to be credible. Iain M. Banks' Culture has the same problem, but Banks a) has hyperintelligent AI doing political magic to support his utopia, and b) sets his stories on the Culture's borders, so the reader doesn't have to look at the magic too closely. Williamson is not so discreet. (By the way, going by Freehold I'd have classed Williamson as a Randite. Does that fit with his later work?)

21:

Michael: I'd like to believe that you're right about Americans' attitudes about our military operations, but I'm not convinced. I have met people who want revenge, no matter who gets it in the neck; I'm just not sure how many in the US agree with them. Do you know of polls to support your statements? Ditto for the reasons for dissatisfaction with the war.

Re: Iain Banks. He's said both on his blog and in the introduction to the collection "State of the Art" that he doesn't really believe in the culture, that it doesn't seem likely that anybody could be civilized enough that they'd build AIs like that, or let them run things if they did. Too bad, I say.

22:

We have had in Spain a crime of glorifying terrorism typified in the penal code for ages now and we aren't a police state yet. I'd have to read the statute to see if it is written in an equivalent way, but I suspect free societies can cope with this kind of obstacles to free speech. Personally I am opposed to the glorifying terrorism crime, as I am opposed to the 2000ish Political Parties Law that made it possible to declare ETA's political arm illegal, but it hasn't cause any sharp loss of freedom in our society. Our ID cards don't either, think of them what you will. As to the Irgun not being a terrorist organization, that's a weird stacking of the deck, isn't it? At least our penal code doesn't name any names, terrorism is defined by the crimes specified in the terrorism chapter on the code. There was a very interesting case, solved by a legally elegant reductio ad absurdum on whether apology of terrorism was itself a terrorist crime, but the Constitutional Tribunal said that in that case, apology of apology of terrorism would itself be a crime, which would be absurd, etc :-)

23:

"Our ID cards don't either, think of them what you will."

But are there any numbers to show they've stopped terrorism David?

Just because you've become used to them in sunny spain, doesn't mean they actually do any good. Erosions of human rights are a slow, insipid burning thing.

Soon we'll be locking people up for religious denomination alone - and we don't even have to get them to wear purple triangles.

24:

Being hysterical is counterproductive. I'm against that kind of laws, as I said, but I know by experience what happens in a society that has them and it's far away from the III Reich, which doesn't mean it's not bad. I dislike also laws against hate speech in general, but I wouldn't go around saying they're going to end freedom as we know it. We've had ID cards since the 1940s (IIRC) and the erosion of human rights is yet to be seen (pre-emptively, yes, there was a dictatorship at the time, which doesn't mean all they did is wrong and all they didn't do is right). That said, I don't think they're particularly useful in stopping terrorism, that's just a convenient justification. They are useful in having a cannonical hard to forge proof of identity (call it a primary key) for the economic traffic, they're useful to some extent for criminal investigation, but terrorism and in particular suicide terrorism is not the place where they make the difference.

25:

Cestodus Absurdus, no, MZW isn't extreme. Tom Kratman? Extreme.

Heck, some of Kratman's stuff offends ME, and I'm very tollerant of an author's politics in their writing. By the time you're regenerating the Waffen SS, though...

26:

So "it all depends on where you stand" does it? Very sloppy thinking. You can define a terrorist and the test does stand the test of time. Muddying the waters by implying that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter is irresponsible.

1. A terrorist is one who uses violence to try to achieve political goals when a democratic method to achieve those goals is open to him/her.
2. A terrorist is one who, when using violence, deliberately targets civilians as opposed to the military/state targets that a normal person might consider to be legitimate game in a war.

27:

How does a test relying upon what a "normal person might consider" stand the test of time? How do you define normal person? What do you mean by "legitimate game"? It seems to me that, whilst the first test might stand the test of time, the second comes down to us vs. them again.

28:

Oh, point two passes the test of time all right. I believe it is what's known as "historical pattern of warfare".

29:

"How does a test relying upon what a "normal person might consider" stand the test of time"

That's a good point. The answer of course, is that I'm a 'normal person' and anyone who disagrees with me a sicko deviant ;-)

I suppose that you could tighten that second rule by ending it at "as opposed to military/state targets." Although I personally would take it as read that whilst targetting a state run broadcasting institution would be legitimate, targetting a state run nursery would not.

30:

Will, your attempt at an objective definition of terrorism is not incompatible with mine. But the unfortunate fact is that politicians and the media make no attempt at using ANY objective definition.

By extension, most people see only the subjective definition (freedom fighters who we do not support are terrorists, terrorists who we DO support are freedom fighters) presented.

Terrorism does have many potential objective and useful definitions, unfortunately those are often ignored for political expediency.

To go back to using Williamson as my Example/Whipping boy... The weaker side of an asymmetric or guerrilla war may not be able to directly attack hard targets against superior troop strengths, in "Freehold" this is shown in Pacelli's group attacking the logistics train instead... and in "The Weapon" the attack on earth was for the mostr part performed in attacks on infrastructure, though resulting in massive civilian casualties.

In the situation in these books, the democratic/diplomatic solution was not available... and the teams in the second book were too small to directly attack strictly military targets. But given that most of the attacks were on infrastructure needed to supply the Military (as well as civilians) Was this terrorism? or legitimate tactics to end a war that could not be won otherwise?

Williamson leaned toward the tactics being legit... me, i don't know...

But actions where civilian casualties are the main goal, whether sponsored by a state or not, are most definitely terrorism by any sane definition... And unfortunately Governments don't seem to give a damn about sane definitions.

One bit of anecdotal evidence for the idea that some Americans would agree with blatantly terroristic tactics under my definition... I was attending a conference in Las Vegas in the maddle of this past January when i overhead a loud and drunken conversation between young men (who were definitly of age to join the military, though despite their jingoism had not done so, just as well) who believed that the only solution was to systematically nuke every predominantly Muslim nation to glass.

If the total genocide of entire nations doesn't fit the definition or terror, i don't know what does. But these drunken fools declared it "self defense" when i called them on their bullshit... **sigh**

31:

Okay.

A question for those people who are trying to define terror. A group has deliberately infected 10 flocks of sheep in England with foot and mouth disease. Is this terrorism?

It's not technically violence, and I'm not sure that violence is the correct word to be using.

32:

I would call it irregular warfare - which also covers what most people call terrorism. The word Terrorism is a handy oratorical club, but not a very usefull definition.

33:

Deliberately infecting a flock of sheep with foot and mouth IS violent... just not directly so... The flocks are most definitely harmed, just the harm may not have been apparent to an outsider who witnessed the attack happening.

Is it terrorism? Well, the primary harm to humans is economic yes? does that matter in the definition? this is a point where the answer would have to be at least partially subjective. And i personally don't know enough to answer.

I am leaning toward yes, that it is terrorism, but that is in part due to some of my own biases.

34:

So if you buy the book and walk around with it under your arm - so that people could see the title - could you be arrested? It sounds like it.

35:

Mark, a reader arrested? Unlikely.... the authors? theoretically possible, but practically unlikely, because authorities tend to understand that one or more of the authors, or the publishers in such cases or publishing something in deliberate defiance of a stupid law are likely to either be, or be on good terms with a lawyer who is a bizzare hybrid of Johnny Cochran, Clarence Darrow, and a rabid pit bull.

Actually ENFORCING this moronic law will likely happen to some poor son of a bitch who the arresting officers do not like, but this law is the only thing they can legally smack him with.

36:

"... a reader arrested? Unlikely.... the authors? theoretically possible..."

Dozens of readers are assisting the Edinburgh and London police in an attempt to track down the major dealers of alphaterrorism devices. One truckload of over a tonne of palletized boxes of such devices was seized, with a street value of over a million Pounds. Authorities are investigating rumors that many of these dealers were planning to meet in Yokohama and Beijing this autumn.

37:

1. A terrorist is one who uses violence to try to achieve political goals when a democratic method to achieve those goals is open to him/her.

Define "democratic method" - all Western countries use both formal and informal methods to channel democracy into "acceptable" patterns of behaviour. This is blatant in the US, due both to the high profile of its politics, and its idiosyncratic political blend of ideological rigidity and individual chaos, but it also goes on in other supposedly more "democratic" countries (cf Hager's "The Hollow Men" for a look at how the NZ equivilant of the Republicans actually works).

Observing this, one might be justified in claiming that a choice between vanilla icecream and chocolate icecream is no choice at all, and that if you want steak, you're going to have to get your hands bloody.

Debout, les damnés de la terre
Debout, les forçats de la faim
La raison tonne en son cratère
C'est l'éruption de la fin
Du passé faisons table rase
Foules, esclaves, debout, debout
Le monde va changer de base
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout
C'est la lutte finale
Groupons-nous, et demain
L'Internationale
Sera le genre humain!

38:

Why bother trying to define terrorism in terms of warfare?

Terrorism is the act of instilling terror into a civilian population. It does not have to be at the hand of an unorganized guerrilla force. The Nazis were terrorists, for example, because they kept a fair percentage of the civilian population afraid.

Also, while it's usually assumed to be violent, terrorism is not by definition violence. Successful propaganda can produce the same results, more or less. For a low-key example of this, I direct you to any major news outlet in the US. (A clearer example would be Orwell's 1984)

Most of what is being considered 'terrorism' today is subjective, decided by the powers that be. (Whatever they are.)

39:

In all of the talk about making it illegal to "glorify" terrorism, it's also important to note that some places are making it harder to ridicule terrorism.

Remember the Mohammed cartoons? A couple of American universities are cracking down on students who published them in school papers (or on their own websites) because it bothers some Islamic students (meanwhile, if other students burn the US flag, or publish horrendous cartoons of the President, that's "free speech" - one or the other guys - you don't get to pick the speech to be free).

What was the name of that old short story where the good guys used the tactic of making fun of all of the terrorists? They called them "Charlie George," because it was the dumbest-sounding name they could think up...

40:

Andrew said:

"A group has deliberately infected 10 flocks of sheep in England with foot and mouth disease. Is this terrorism?"

Was the target the sheep (in which case it could be vandalism), the farmer (possible blackmail) or those about eat the sheep (terrorism)?

Tony said:

"one might be justified in claiming that a choice between vanilla icecream and chocolate icecream is no choice at all"

Indeed but in the UK £500 gets me opportunity to try and make my own ice cream, £500 being the deposit you must stump up in order to stand in a parliamentary election. The chances of my ice cream turning out successfully are low but there is a chance. And with the opportunities to spread a message no longer confined to those with access to a printing press or television station, the barriers to entry into the political process are lowering.

41:

Will,

Bear in mind that those flocks of sheep will cause a mass infection, close down much of the countryside and do a lot of economic damage. And that the disease does NOT affect Humans (there are record of about three possible infections, ever, and they were not fatal).

There are plenty of other "low intensity warfare" examples.

42:

Indeed but in the UK £500 gets me opportunity to try and make my own ice cream, £500 being the deposit you must stump up in order to stand in a parliamentary election. The chances of my ice cream turning out successfully are low but there is a chance.

And the steak?

43:

cirby :- What was the name of that old short story where the good guys used the tactic of making fun of all of the terrorists? They called them "Charlie George," because it was the dumbest-sounding name they could think up...


"Soft Targets" by, I think, Dean Inge. Published in the magazine ("Destinies" IIRC) put out by Jim Baen a few years back.

JHomes

45:

Crazy question. What was the purpose of infecting the sheep?

Was this to put the farmers out of business so that mutton would not be eaten? We destroyed the sheep in order to save them.

Is it an Australian plot to destroy the British Sheep industry? He who owns the most sheep wins.

Or some other form of insanity?

46:

Brian - the "idea" would be that it's the sort of tactic which could be used in a "kill none" low intensity warfare campaign to paralyse a country. Which I'd argue is certainly terrorism.

47:

Ing's story described a practical strategy for dealing with terrorists in the 1980s, but it required that the terrorist be dependent on Western (i.e., US or EC) media to get their message out. Certainly the current crop of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists has channels like Al Jazeera that bypass Western control. Many of the separatist movements like ETA aren't so lucky, but it's difficult to convince high level media managers or government officials to try to make a joke out of a bombing.

48:

Brian - the "idea" would be that it's the sort of tactic which could be used in a "kill none" low intensity warfare campaign to paralyse a country. Which I'd argue is certainly terrorism.

I'd argue it wasn't. Economic warfare, certainly, but where's the terror?

Consider - a coordinated campaign could probably bring traffic to a standstill for hours during rush hour in any large city. Would this be terror?

49:

The question of whether a person is a terrorist or a freedom fighter or whatever is mainly irrelevant-- the proper question is whether they are shooting at you personally. Unless you're convinced that being killed by a person of high moral virtue is different than being killed by one of low, it's not a useful distinction.

50:

Children of the future age,
Reading this indignant page,
Know that in a former time
Books, sweet books, were thought a crime.

[with apologizes to William Blake's
"A Little Girl Lost"]

[Really, Charlie, weren't you playing the straight man in setting this up with the title "Indignant and illegal fictions"?]

51:

Bruce, I do wonder how hard it would be to interdict Al Jazeera. Although that would make the Arab nations scream.

Tony Quirke - I think it could be used as such, yes. But now we're getting into levels of motivation.

A better example - a group gets hold of some conventional EMP bombs. They detonates it in a major UN/government office block, destroying all the electronic equipment within, but not hurting anyone. Terror?

53:

If They do it, then it is Terror. If We do it, then it is a humanitarian "kill none" strike against infrastructure.

54:

Charlie,
Thanks for the link. I will be buying a copy. Apart from the purely political motivation ( and though I am pretty much on the right hand side of the political spectrum I think this is one of the nastiest and what's worse dumbest pieces of legislation that the Blair government has come up with. And considering the competition- smoking bans, ASBOs, the fox hunting debacle etc that is saying something) the line up of authors is pretty damned impressive.

55:

Andrew, a few EMP hits, plus screwing up the traffic, plus a random scattering of plaster dust= widespread panic, at technically "non-lethal" attack where chances are the victims will be killing each other in panic.

I live near Chicago, where a few years ago someone squirted pepper spray in a crowded nightclub, and caused a stampede that killed several.
http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Midwest/02/18/btsc.flock/

56:
Unless you're convinced that being killed by a person of high moral virtue is different than being killed by one of low, it's not a useful distinction.
Ah, but it's not to be applied to the one who's shooting at you; I agree that's a distinction that makes no difference. The distinction is useful (I hope) in thinking about your own acts and deciding whether to commit them. In other words, if you value your own morals, don't be a terrorist.
57:

mfh, well yes, most LIW techniques certainly will kill people. But not directly, which is why they're so scary. It's far easier to recruit people who will follow through on something which they know abstractly will kill people than those who will take a gun, aim it, and pull the trigger.

58:

Andrew Crystall: It probably wouldn't be hard to bring Al Jazeerah down with a DDOS attack. The issue isn't practicality, it's whether the CT groups in the CIA or wherever have the ability to do it and whether the PR effect of a cyberattack by the US would be a net gain or loss. Of course we could always borrow a few thousand zombies from the Russian Mafia and pretend we had nothing to do with it, but I doubt it would fool anyone.

As for ability, most US government agencies, most especially including the Department of Defense and the FBI, have proven to be largely clueless about cyberwar tactics. They may talk a good game, but they've been successfully attacked more than once, and there are some indications that DOD has been penetrated. Whether or not any sensitive computers were involved is, of course, not something they're talking about.

59:

On the subj3ect of Cyberwar:
http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htiw/articles/20070216.aspx

Dunnigan and Co.s' analysis leans towards the Genghis Khan right, but they seem to get their nuts and bolts fact right.

60:

cirby: What was the name of that old short story where the good guys used the tactic of making fun of all of the terrorists? They called them "Charlie George," because it was the dumbest-sounding name they could think up...

The novel(ette) was indeed _Soft Targets_; a dim memory from the
credits claims that the short story was something like
"A Very Proper Charlie". Been a while since I read it...

- CJH / esper

61:

MFH said: A few science fiction authors, mainly in the military sub0genre have looked at the line between terrorists and freedom fighters... One that comes to mind is Michael Z. Williamson with "The Weapon" where the protagonist was in command of the group that managed to kill 6 billion people, mostly civilians, on Earth.

The protagonist of that book also, when on a peacekeeping mission, massacred whole villages (including babies) when they disobeyed his directive to stop raiding their neighbors. Williamson's judgement on what constitutes "terrorism" is a little suspect, IMO.

62:

"The distinction is useful (I hope) in thinking about your own acts and deciding whether to commit them. In other words, if you value your own morals, don't be a terrorist."

Which is useful if your goal is to be the most moral. If it's something else-- the wellbeing of your population, national goals and aims, economic development, etc, it may not be.

63:

A terrorist is one who, when using violence, deliberately targets civilians as opposed to the military/state targets that a normal person might consider to be legitimate game in a war.

Such as carpet bombing cities? Mining harbors? Blowing up protest vessels? Or is it not terrorism when a government does it?

What about the �?�京大屠�?� (Rape of Nanking)? Was that terrorism? It was certainly a war crime...

Or consider PETA in the UK. Are they terrorists? They are certainly attempting to make people who work with animals terrified to continue doing so (not to mention journalists who give them bad press)...

As a first cut at a definition, I'd say a terrorist is someone who doesn't represent a government who takes actions against civilians aimed at creating fear, with the purpose of provoking a reaction that will lead to a change in government (or possibly a change in society -- I haven't decided on that one yet).

64:

Andrew, a few EMP hits, plus screwing up the traffic, plus a random scattering of plaster dust= widespread panic, at technically "non-lethal" attack where chances are the victims will be killing each other in panic.

Sounds sweet. If I do something non-lethal that exploits your society's weaknesses so that it tears itself apart, I dunno whether that's terrorism or irony.

Consider, for a moment, what would happen to the US if someone unleashed a seriously infectious virus that made everyone as black as any African. Much of the country would be just fine, but it would be a kick in the crotch in some areas.

65:

Carey,
It's not necessary that morality and social well-being or economic development be mutually opposed. Often they may be in tension, and that's why making moral decisions is hard. And yes, sometimes making a pragmatic decision requires lowering your moral standards, and sometimes morality takes precedence. So your goal could be to be as moral as you can within the constraints of practicality and your other objectives.

I wouldn't make a big deal out of this except that there is a very common view that says that a practical person can't be concerned about morality. This view disturbs me, especially when it's used to excuse immoral behavior that wasn't really necessary. For example, the CIA's "exceptional rendition" of prisoners, who may or may not (and often were not) terrorists.

66:
Or is it not terrorism when a government does it?
Why can't there be such a thing as state terrorism? I would certainly count carpet bombing and institutional rape and killing as in Sarejevo and Nanking as terrorism. Or consider the traditional sack of a fallen city by a besieging army. Part of its purpose is to deter other cities from resisting by terrorizing them.

Your definition looks good to me, if you strike out "who doesn't represent a government" and expand the purpose to include subduing other governments or societies.

67:

Bruce: Immoral behavior that's unnecessary would be a fairly bad idea-- most people do tend to condemn immorality, and to engage in it without good reason is a PR issue even to the most pragmatic of leaders.

The problem for a leader is that it's no longer simply a matter of his own morals and his own consequences, but his role as defender of his country and its people. Perhaps to put it this way-- if a country's leader could save one of his own citizens for every ten foreign citizens who die is he not abandoning his duty to his own citizens by taking a more moral approach and saving the most lives?

68:

Carey: an interesting question, and a good example of why moral decisions are often very difficult. And the wise person recognizes that you can't always make the decision correctly; that you have to constantly monitor outcomes and be ready to change your plans. This is why the confusion of means and ends is often detrimental to attaining one's objectives: it becomes hard to change means when necessary because it feels like abandoning your ends.

The key to moral behavior is striving to optimize the level of morality resulting from your decisions. No human can promise more than striving; the future is unknowable except by traveling there, and we can never be sure that the choices we make will have the outcomes we hope for. This further requires that you be ready to change your plans when the outcomes veer from your expectations, including when immoral results come unexpectedly from moral acts.

I've been reading Sun Tzu's "Art of War" recently, going back to the source to better understand the political and military situation the US finds itself in, not just in Iraq, but world-wide. And I'm reminded by the text that military commanders must, to be effective, strive to be moral, as paradoxical as that sounds to us today. Sun Tzu recognized that a commander owed obligations to his troops, to his king, to his state, and to some extent to his enemies as well, though the obligations were not the same. I haven't found a better prescription for how to live a moral life than the advice for generals in "Art of War."

69:

Charlie,

Going back through your original post that started this thread, I noticed something that hasn't been commented on:

Oh, and they forgot to define "glorifying". In fact, they drew the net so widely that they forgot to leave out political satire, or works of fiction.

What makes you assume they forgot? Most authoritarian regimes are, if not terrified of the political effects satire, at least angered by the way it which it insults them. I would not be surprised to learn that the Act deliberately includes satire and fiction.

70:

Carey: Perhaps to put it this way-- if a country's leader could save one of his own citizens for every ten foreign citizens who die is he not abandoning his duty to his own citizens by taking a more moral approach and saving the most lives?

As a teacher, I am in loco parentis to my students. If I can save one of my students for every ten non-students who die, am I not abandoning my duty to my students for taking a more moral approach and saving the most lives?

The problem with drawing boundaries and declaring those inside "more important" than those outside is that (a) boundaries move, and (b) you can chose many different boundaries.

When my grandfather was a young man he served in the British army. During the Troubles his unit was posted to Northern Ireland. He never told us the bad things that happened (he was also at Ypres, the Somme, Palestine, etc during WWI), but when he got Alzheimer's he learned a lot from his flashbacks. Apparently his unit came under fire in an Irish city. The sergeant was shot. His best pal was shot. And they couldn't shoot back! Not because they didn't know where the attackers were, but because the attackers were firing from a crowd of civilians.

They could have saved each other, accomplished their mission, and killed some terrorists (or guerillas, if you prefer) by firing into a crowd of civilians. They chose not to. My grandfather didn't consider his mates, or his service, or his countryfolk more valuable than other people. Creed, colour, country mattered not-- what counted was what you did.

You may not agree, but I hold that a leader's duty to humanity overrides their duty to their followers. There may be no good choices, but there will invariably be less bad choices.

71:

Mr. Cohen, I agree with you. Sun Tzu recognized that the fighting was only a part of warfare, and not the most important part.

72:

Bruce Cohen: Why can't there be such a thing as state terrorism? I would certainly count carpet bombing and institutional rape and killing as in Sarejevo and Nanking as terrorism. Or consider the traditional sack of a fallen city by a besieging army. Part of its purpose is to deter other cities from resisting by terrorizing them.

Maybe I'm hairsplitting, but I'd call those "war crimes" rather than terrorism.

I'll have to think longer about how to articulate it, but I feel that there is a difference between terrorism and warfare -- even low-intensity warfare.

73:

Tony Quirke, Asimov short story with the punchline "If any of you are still white, we can cure you".

Can't remember which collection offhand, sorry

74:

James Dunnigan knows his stuff: he's one of the right-wingers who still is willing to consider reality.

But a lot of the info-war he's talking about is just another form of espionage. And I think Charlie might have a better idea of what can be done to actually harm a country.

James Dunnigan's thinking may be stuck in the military world of the Cold War. Which is so last-century.

75:
And I think Charlie might have a better idea of what can be done to actually harm a country.
Yes, our Charlie knows his stuff. I'm reading Glasshouse, which I just bought a few days ago (it went right to the top of the stack, pushing at least 4 other books down). The cyberwar in the backstory is very realistic (at least with 21st century nets; Turing alone knows what a 30th Century net would work like).

As far as I could tell from the public reports of the Chinese attacks they are intended to penetrate MilNet and hack sensitive data from the computers there. As you say, this is espionage, not sabotage.

I think the right way to bring down the net for an extended period of time (and it would take out the whole net, not just a piece) would be to find a vulnerability in the top-level domain name servers that would allow bringing them down or poisoning their name tables for an extended time. This would not affect connections existing when the attack started, but new connections would require knowing the IP address of the other end, rather than the domain name. If in addition the backbone routers were taken out, say with a massive denial of service attack, very little traffic would get through, even when the IP was known. At this point in time I would guess there are several thousand individuals in a couple of dozen countries who are capable of mounting this sort of attack if they uncovered such a vulnerability. To some extent the countries are probably deterred by the thought of MAD, or by their own losses in such an attack, but many of the individuals are loners, or members of organized crime, who aren't really at risk from government attacks.

76:

Bruce, well, maybe. You might remember the Blue Frog/PharmaMaster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Frog) incident.

The net is a considerably more fragile construct than many people like to consider. The attack WAS having an effect on connections worldwide, and if it had continued there would of been universal service interuptions.

PharmaMaster (a bunch of ROKSO spammers, apparently) outright stated that if they couldn't send spam, they'd shut the web down. And apparently, they'd be able to have a good shot at it. That says to me...architecture change time.

77:

Andrew: Tony Quirke, Asimov short story with the punchline "If any of you are still white, we can cure you".

Arthur C. Clarke short story, actually.

78:

I was just wondering what the reaction here would be if the Terrorism Act was an EU piece of legislation. I pictured a headline in The Daily Mail that went something like `Brussels Bureaucrats Ban Free Speech.' Just a thought.

I'm a little less sanguine than Charlie about ID cards - my wife, who's from a Central European Country and has had an ID card since she was a child, can't understand what all the fuss is about - and I think the panopticon society we live in now came about more by accident than malign design.
But I think it's the obligation of those of us who write to write about those things in society that disturb us, and the thought that the act of doing so could criminalise us disturbs me profoundly. I don't write political stuff, as a rule, but if I ever start I don't want to have to write it as samizdat.

The usual line that's trotted out is `if you haven't done anything wrong, you haven't got anything to worry about,' but these days when I hear someone say that I think about Jean Charles de Menezes, who didn't do anything wrong and whose civil liberties were infringed in the worst possible way.

79:

'If any of you are still white, we can cure you.'

Andrew, it's a Clarke story, not Asimov - Reunion, in The Wind from the Sun

80:

Ah, that'd be why a brief perusal of my Asimov's failed to turn it up then :)

81:
And I think Charlie might have a better idea of what can be done to actually harm a country.
Yes, our Charlie knows his stuff. I'm reading Glasshouse, which I just bought a few days ago (it went right to the top of the stack, pushing at least 4 other books down). The cyberwar in the backstory is very realistic (at least with 21st century nets; Turing alone knows what a 30th Century net would work like).

As far as I could tell from the public reports of the Chinese attacks they are intended to penetrate MilNet and hack sensitive data from the computers there. As you say, this is espionage, not sabotage.

I think the right way to bring down the net for an extended period of time (and it would take out the whole net, not just a piece) would be to find a vulnerability in the top-level domain name servers that would allow bringing them down or poisoning their name tables for an extended time. This would not affect connections existing when the attack started, but new connections would require knowing the IP address of the other end, rather than the domain name. If in addition the backbone routers were taken out, say with a massive denial of service attack, very little traffic would get through, even when the IP was known. At this point in time I would guess there are several thousand individuals in a couple of dozen countries who are capable of mounting this sort of attack if they uncovered such a vulnerability. To some extent the countries are probably deterred by the thought of MAD, or by their own losses in such an attack, but many of the individuals are loners, or members of organized crime, who aren't really at risk from government attacks.

82:

Well, someone tried a rootzone DDOS the other week, and the system rode through it without anyone even sending an e-mail to NANOG.

Basically, I don't think root is anywhere near as critical as it was at the time even of the last big attack in 2002. It's more distributed than it used to be, and you'd need to find a zero-day class break across all of them to take it down. And we're not talking Windows Server here.

Essentially every large internetwork does cached DNS, so the workaround would be to ssh into the slave DNS box and set the time to expire to the maximum bit value it allows. I can't imagine that, very quickly, network operators wouldn't also be sharing zone files like they used to before ARIN, RIPE and friends, so those caches could be rendered more complete.

And, failing all else, there's always Peter Dambier...

83:

Robert: "You may not agree, but I hold that a leader's duty to humanity overrides their duty to their followers."

True, I don't agree. If you can't count on your leaders using the power of the state to preserve and protect you, why bother having them (or the state)in the first place?
Consider the implications of what you say-- any modern state, if it considered all people to be equally valuable and worthy of protection, would spend almost all of its budget on aid to third world countries, where the money would achieve the greatest increase in health, wellbeing, happiness, etc, rather than on its own citizens (who are generally wealthy enough to take care of themselves). Any leader suggesting this wouldn't last long.

84:

Reading about the Terrorism Act 2000 in today's Times, it occurred to me to wonder whether Tony Blair could be prosecuted under it. Apparently any form of violence intended to sway public opinion or bring about regime change is forbidden, and the pretext that the regime in question is despotic or dictatorial is explicitly ruled out as an extenuating circumstance. And the action the British forces took in invading Iraq and killing many Iraqis definitely qualifies as terrorism.

85:

"'...it was terrorism by the definitions used in the real world; vis "the deliberate use of force against civilians to achieve a political goal".'

So, as I have always thought, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden were pure terrorism.

86:

Tom- it won't be applicable retrospectively. Or at least I doubt it would be.

87:

I would definitely buy an ebook copy (in a format readable on a Palm, please). A lot easier than paying for postage to Australia.

88:

My default judgement is that most guerillas _are_ terrorist scum and all-round vermin, and that the traditional Western ban (effectively) on guerilla warfare had a good deal to be said for it. Other things being equal, guerilla warfare doesn't change the outcome of wars; it just makes them more ghastly than they would be otherwise.

As in many other cases, the Nazis lastingly screwed things up for the rest of us by weakening this, by presenting a clear case of an "exception". If someone's going to kill you anyway just for existing, the whole thing becomes moot.

And then of course the Soviets sought to build on that for their own purposes; eg., the idiotic and farcical 1977 changes to the law of war, which -- thank God -- we didn't sign, being even in the Age of Carter smart enough to recognize a trap dug before our feet. As they demonstrated in Afghanistan, they had no intention of abiding by those absurd restrictions, which were deliberately aimed at making Western counter-insurgency warfare impossible.

However, it would probably be best to reinstate the traditional rules: only uniformed (or otherwise clearly distinguishable) agents of a state or quasi-state body with a clear chain of command which enforces the regulations can legitimately engage in collective political violence.

Combatants must carry weapons openly and while they may hide physically, they may not hide by attempting to (at any time) pass themselves off as civilians. In other words, if you can see them at all it must be immediately obvious what they are.

Provided the combatants abide by these restrictions, there are (some but not many) countervailing restrictions on what may be done by either side -- no obliterating villages, deliberately targeting civilians, confiscating private property without compensation, etc.

In time of war everyone else (aka "civilians") is obliged to passively obey whoever happens to be occupying the place they reside. Those who resist may be killed, and collective resistance may be met with collective reprisal -- taking and shooting hostages, for example.

The basic approach is a) here are the rules b) if you break them, the other side isn't bound by them either.

The underlying philosophy is value-neutral: it accepts that war is a means of political action and simply sets out to regulate it so that the minimum amount of damage is done. It doesn't distinguish between 'good guys' and 'bad guys'.


89:

"Is Nelson Mandela? [a terrorist].

-- borderline case. The ANC actually made some considerable effort to avoid random attacks on civilians. Of course, it also didn't really wage much in the way of guerilla warfare.

Now, Mugabe (as he's demonstrated since) _was_ a terrorist, all his followers were terrorists, and Smith & Co. were entirely right about him. Not that Smith & Co. were any jewels, but he was and is far worse.

>Is the animal rights movement supportive of terrorists?

-- yup, you betcha, 100%. And those open attacks on, for example, company executives are terrorism plain and simple.

And possible only in the UK; hereabouts the equivalent PETA types also engage in terrorism, but it's strictly anonymous stuff, arson and bombs.

If they actually went after people and menaced and harassed them in their houses here in the US the way that has repeatedly happened in the UK, the people inside would come out and shoot them dead, or their rent-a-cops would, and good riddance, too. Which would probably be the attitude of a jury, in the unlikely event it got that far.

>Is Sinn Fein?

-- how could anyone doubt it? Of course they were and the only distinction between them and the IRA was a farcical attempt at 'plausible deniability. They were terrorists, and it was perfectly legitimate to kill them on sight and without warning; perhaps not expedient, but perfectly legitimate.

If they've genuinely stopped, they are no longer terrorists... though still rightfully liable to punishment for previous deeds.

90:

But aren't there adequate laws already in the UK against incitement to violence? This seems like another piece of "catch-all" legislation, which just asks to be poked in the eye. I'm sure we all know lots of Irish "rebel songs"; I was once told that even the TUNE to Kevin Barry was illegal. Altogether now: da da Da__ da da da Da__, da da Da__ da da da Da...

91:

Note that the laws of war don't prohibit killing civilians; they just prohibit _targeting_ civilians.

In other words, if the enemy fire at you from among civilians (or place a military target amid a group of nuns caring for paraplegic orphans) you're perfectly entitled to shoot back -- machine guns, flamethrowers, the lot. And you're perfectly entitled to shoot back knowing civilians will be killed, as long as your _intent_ is to hit the military target.

In other words, you're not required to respect 'human shields'. You can blast right through them. It's up to the other side to remove the military targets from among their civilians, and if they don't, what happens is their karma, not yours.

The degree of discrimination required also depends on the weapon (less with artillery than with knives) and on the situation.

Frex, a 'defended city' can be treated as a fortress and indiscriminately bombed and shelled. Only if the enemy declare it an 'open city' and remove their armed forces from it are you forbidden to do so.

92:

Using _terrorism_ in the "literal" sense, all war is of course terrorism -- its objective is to frighten the other side into submitting to your will by killing and destroying until they can't take it any more.

"Terrorism" in the popular sense of the term is simply an illegitimate form of warfare.

And all terrorism is of war. Terrorists aren't "just criminals" as wishful thinkers would have it; they're not in the same category as people who mug you for your wallet, or even those who set people on fire because they get off on it.

Terrorists are using violence for _political_ ends; that's war, plain and simple. Political coercion through violence = war.

And if someone wages war on you, you're at war, like it or not. It's not a matter for the police, though they may be useful auxiliaries.

93:

Shame on you, Steve. There was a perfectly good run on a thread contemplating fuzziness in a definition for terrorism, and you had to spoil it by mentioning the Geneva Conventions as a literal document.

94:

Also, it's my opinion that all attempts at "plausible deniability" should simply be ignored. If you want to make war, you have to come out in the open and make war; if you try to do it on the sly, you should be hit just as if you did it openly.

In other words, we should treat proxies as identical to their principals. If A gives something to B to use against you, then send a couple of hundred B-52's to pay a visit on A's capital city, if it's practicable.

Eg., since Iran is helping Hezbollah, Israel is perfectly entitled to launch an all-out nuclear attack on Iran(*). So are we, come to that. It may or may not be _expedient_ to do so, but we're certainly _entitled_ to do so. If they don't want to get **cked up, they should stay quietly at home and not try to **ck with us.

(*) probably a good idea, in the long run. "If a man come up agains thee, to slay thee, rise up and slay him first." If someone professes a serious desire to wipe you out, do unto him -- first, and just as he was going to do to you.

If you talk the talk, be prepared to walk the walk.

95:

Steve, you'll never convince me that it's acceptable to exterminate 1500 million Muslims in order to save 6 million Israeli Jews...

96:

"Steve, you'll never convince me that it's acceptable to exterminate 1500 million Muslims in order to save 6 million Israeli Jews..."

-- why not? They're the ones who are refusing to live peacefully and coexist. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Unless you think the dirty Yids have it coming, of course.

97:

And no, all human lives aren't of equal "value"; that begs the question of what "value" means. "Value" means value _to somebody_.

So are lives of value to God, perhaps? But I don't believe in God. God is a myth, and there is no universal standard of value independent of perception.

(It's amazing how many people want to have smoke without fire -- they want the derivative implications of believing in God without the thing itself. I, on the other hand, follow it to its logical conclusion.)

But if you rule out God, then value is a subjective quality, not an objective one. It exists only inside human heads. It's an emotion, not a description. Nothing can have value in itself; it can only have value TO some conscious entity.

Hence to say "X has value" is like saying "X is right"; it just means "I like/approve of this". All normative claims are ultimately simply arbitrary statements of individual preference, of feeling.

And what counts to me, of course, is what has value to me.

The lives of my fellow-citizens are of course more valuable to _me_ than the lives of foreigners; members of my general civilizational grouping are more valuable than aliens. I regard any human live as more valuable than that of, say, a cat... but that's about as far as I'll go.

This is the natural and healthy human reaction; long live my in-group, I'm not so sure about yours.

I expect others to regard me and mine in exactly the same way, and am neither surprised nor resentful when they do so. Turn about is fair play.

98:

"Steve, you'll never convince me that it's acceptable to exterminate 1500 million Muslims in order to save 6 million Israeli Jews..."

-- and, of course, this is a reductio ad absurdum.

99:

and, of course, this is a reductio ad absurdum.

You should have said that before you condoned genocide in message 96.

100:

Better a genocidist than a (Draka) serf? Certainly!

Better a genocidist than a dhimmi? Not necessarily...

101:

You should have said that before you condoned genocide in message 96

-- you're the guy who didn't want to save 6 million Jews.

Hmm... where have we heard that before?

102:

-- you're the guy who didn't want to save 6 million Jews.

I do not believe that it is worth committing a greater genocide in order to prevent a lesser one.

Hmm... where have we heard that before?

The Allies didn't fight World War II to save the Jews. They fought it to stop Hitler taking over the world.

103:

"I do not believe that it is worth committing a greater genocide in order to prevent a lesser one."

Oooh, that could be the seed for a great story.

Back in the 1980s Hero games published the adventure module "Operation Valkyrie" which involved the players having to clean up the repercussions of a time-travel jaunt which triggered a chain of events that prevented the Holocaust and caused a Nazi victory in WWII. Caused no end of howling, that one did. It was actually pulled from the shelves.

104:

SM Stirling wrote;

Eg., since Iran is helping Hezbollah, Israel is perfectly entitled to launch an all-out nuclear attack on Iran

I'm sorry SM but up 'til then you were making so much sense. Your 'us and them' mentality seems to have undone this. Changing your 'us' to your 'them' gives;

Eg., since USA is helping Israel, Bin Laden is perfectly entitled to launch an attack on the WTC.

The two statements are identical morally outside of your racist assertion that your terrorists are better than their terrorists.

105:

I'm new to Charles Stross - just about to start on Glasshouse. Sorry to butt in with a non-Stross question here but...
Re. comment #21 by Bruce Cohen: You mention a blog by Iain Banks. I've never seen this and Iain has always seemed to be conspicuous on the Internet by his absence! Does anyone know where this blog might be?

106:

Bascule, you're the first person to comment on this thread since April, and it's long since archived. You may want to post again in the most recent discussion area.

107:

OK, will do. And thanks.

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