Heavily armed guards at the entrances to malls and restaurants. Citizens deemed “suspicious” taken away without formal charges or legal counsel. Would a “safe” America even look like America anymore?
One of the few journalists to penetrate the new counter terror initiative, Matthew Brzezinski offers an insider’s look at the new technology, laws, tactics, and persistent vulnerabilities of the post-9/11 era. The result is this startling, sometimes controversial look at what it will take to achieve genuine homeland security and what it may be like to live inside Fortress America
Is this what a safe America will look like?
• Cameras at airport ticket counters that can tell if you are stressed
• Satellites and surveillance equipment that can see through the walls of your home
• Computer programs capable of spotting abnormal behavior
• National ID “smart” cards encoding your personal, financial, and medical information required for electronic police spot checks
In the aftermath of September 11, a massive effort has been launched to protect us from another terrorist attack. But the costs of safeguarding our country will require not only unprecedented amounts of funding, but dramatic changes in the way Americans lead their everyday lives.
Is this the new price of freedom?
• Mandatory chips installed in all cell phones and automobiles that can locate you instantly within a dozen yards
• Patriot II legislation that can arbitrarily revoke citizenship and allow terrorist sympathizers to vanish without a trace
• Transponder implants that could be injected into the bodies of prisoners, foreign nationals, and perhaps one day all US citizens…
Such high-tech measures are not the stuff of science fiction but in many cases are already being implemented. As Brzezinski discovers, similar measures have been in use for years in security states like Israel. But will Americans trade liberty for security? Will they have a choice? And can even the most radical measures insure that a 9/11 style attack won’t happen again?
From an unheeded warning six years before the WTC disaster to dramatic war-game scenarios secretly conducted at Andrews Air Force Base and chilling on-site simulations of actual attacks, Fortress America paints a sobering picture of the future of freedom…and what life may be like in a maximum security state.
The nephew of former national security adviser Zbigniew, New York Times Magazine contributor Brzezinski (Casino Moscow) believes that the domestic American antiterrorist effort has lost momentum and that a new era of American intelligence has yet to dawn. He shows how the Department of Homeland Security has so far failed to connect federal and local authorities, expertly compares the U.S. as open society with Israel as security state, and recounts a chilling tale of the arrest and months-long detention of an Egyptian immigrant who had no connection to terrorists. Brzezinski goes on to imagine a U.S. of 2008, where a student and his associates are surveilled by a radio frequency identification system that can monitor just about anything and are guilty until proven innocent. A war game by a fictional White House staff grapples with a potential terrorist attack, while real terrorist attack response drills in U.S. cities show high levels of unpreparedness. Brzezinski's first-person at times mixes incongruously with policy analysis, and some assertions and speculations (such as "For Israel, abandoning the ruinous settlements and returning the land to the Palestinians was not likely to end terror") go unelaborated. But this breezy overview is bolstered by good reporting and grounded extrapolation.