Creating the Haystack

An adequate approach to discovering terrorist plots might be to collect less information.

News from last week:

The terror suspect who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane is the son of a Nigerian banker who alerted US authorities to his “extreme religious views” months ago, it was reported Saturday.

(Via Andrew Sullivan, who says he is ‘angry‘).

I am reminded of Cory Doctorow’s point at the Convention on Modern Liberty last year, about the problem of collecting too much information:

We’ve been told that we’re collecting larger haystacks of information in the hope that it will make the needles easier tio find.  If you look at the 9/11 Commission report, and you find out that in fact the America intelligence apparatus knew that the September 11th attack was happening – in hindsight – but they also knew a million other irrelevancies, and that an adequate approach to discovering it might have been to collect less information, not more.

The video is below:

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