Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chertoff Addresses World Economic Forum

Report from Davos:

(Homeland Security Secretary Michael) Chertoff told a high-level panel on terrorism at the World Economic Forum that the century will only get more dangerous as technology improves, and that global leaders must make some hard decisions now if they want to avert catastrophe.

"What we face in the 21st century is the ability of even a single individual, and certainly a group, to leverage technology in a way to cause a type of destruction and a magnitude of destruction that would have been unthinkable a century ago," he said. "And that is only going to get worse."

At least one other speaker was conscious that the pot may be calling the kettle black.

Another panelist, British Conservative party leader David Cameron, said it was critical for Western democracies to face the new threat posed by al-Qaida with tough new laws, but also with steady thinking in order to avoid trampling on core beliefs.

"There are some big changes that we have to make ... but when we make those changes, its vital we get this balance right and don't lurch into an ineffective authoritarianism," Cameron said. "We've got to be very strong in combatting terrorism but equally strong in defending liberty, democracy and the things we are actually fighting for."

Chertoff bristled at criticism that some of the steps the United States has taken to combat terrorism -- particularly the use of secret CIA prisons, the establishment of military tribunals to try terror suspects, and what critics see as a relaxing of the rules against torture -- have degraded fundamental human and civil rights. He said governments must be realistic in an age of increasing dangers.

"We should not sacrifice fundamental human rights, but I think it is important also not to treat every departure from the ordinary set of rules that we use in criminal cases and treat that as a catastrophic departure from fundamental human rights," he said. "We have to be precise about what truly is fundamental and what isn't fundamental."

Later in the session, Chertoff was mistaken by Swiss authorities for a missing medical school cadaver, but U.S. officials vouched that the Homeland Security chief was actually still alive, and -- while closely matching the description -- should be permitted to return to his delegation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the problem when the un-dead venture out of Washington.... (except for you, of course,
Mr. F :-))


1/25/2007 7:21 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


You are being exceedingly generous.



1/26/2007 8:55 AM  

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