COMMENTARY: Public Officials Continue to Redefine Acceptable Standards of Conduct.
By: Charles G. Slepian
Our intelligence community needs some help from Apple to access encrypted information they believe can be secured from a cell phone recovered from one of the San Bernardino terrorists. The government believes the information may help it identify other enemies with whom the San Bernardino killers may have shared their plans. Apple argues that they are being asked to develop a “back door” soft wear program which would which would by-pass the built in security programs in their iPhones and allow the government to penetrate encryption programs now protecting the privacy of Apple’s customers. The government, arguing that the development of a soft wear by-pass is necessary for national security, and has gone to federal court and secured an court order directing Apple to comply with its request.
World History is replete with the heinous acts of despotic world leaders spreading from Biblical times to today. The spread of world violence in the past has usually been geographically contained. Western Europe and the United States versus Eastern Europe, Japan against China. The instigators of past calamities usually had identities, they were known by names and nations or the national groupings they led. In the two world wars in which America was a participant, we identified our foes by their nation states such as Germany and Japan or Italy and Austria. Perhaps more importantly we could focus our ire on evil world leaders: Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo and for a while Stalin. When your country is at war, it is useful to know whom to hate. It can be liberating to defile photographs of evil leaders and to prosecute treacherous military leaders when hostilities are bought to an end; and equally important, to honor those who fought and died on the country’s behalf.
On August 28, 2005, America was attacked by an act of nature. We don’t need a Katrina Commission to tell us that a Katrina was likely to occur and that we should have provided reasonable security to preserve life and property in her wake. New Orleans’ below sea level vulnerability had been recognized for decades by the local and federal authorities responsible for emergency preparedness. It was well known that the levees would not hold in a serious storm, and they didn’t.
The World Trade Center clean-up has come to an end ahead of schedule. Public mourning of the killed at “ground zero” is over. Americans across the country are trying to put the 9/11 tragedy behind them.