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Encryption Security

Philip Zimmermann and 'Guilt' Over PGP 837

Philip R. Zimmermann, creator of PGP, was quoted in a recent Washington Post article as saying he has been "overwhelmed with feelings of guilt" about the use of PGP by suspected terrorists. Zimmermann says the story was not entirely accurate, and has written a response to it (below) that he hopes will clear things up. He has also consented to a Slashdot interview, so please post any questions you have for him. As usual, we'll send 10 of the highest-moderated ones to Zimmermann by email, and post his replies verbatim as soon as we get them back.

No Regrets About Developing PGP

The Friday September 21st Washington Post carried an article by Ariana Cha that I feel misrepresents my views on the role of PGP encryption software in the September 11th terrorist attacks. She interviewed me on Monday September 17th, and we talked about how I felt about the possibility that the terrorists might have used PGP in planning their attack. The article states that as the inventor of PGP, I was "overwhelmed with feelings of guilt". I never implied that in the interview, and specifically went out of my way to emphasize to her that that was not the case, and made her repeat back to me this point so that she would not get it wrong in the article. This misrepresentation is serious, because it implies that under the duress of terrorism I have changed my principles on the importance of cryptography for protecting privacy and civil liberties in the information age.

Because of the political sensitivity of how my views were to be expressed, Ms. Cha read to me most of the article by phone before she submitted it to her editors, and the article had no such statement or implication when she read it to me. The article that appeared in the Post was significantly shorter than the original, and had the abovementioned crucial change in wording. I can only speculate that her editors must have taken some inappropriate liberties in abbreviating my feelings to such an inaccurate soundbite.

In the interview six days after the attack, we talked about the fact that I had cried over the heartbreaking tragedy, as everyone else did. But the tears were not because of guilt over the fact that I developed PGP, they were over the human tragedy of it all. I also told her about some hate mail I received that blamed me for developing a technology that could be used by terrorists. I told her that I felt bad about the possibility of terrorists using PGP, but that I also felt that this was outweighed by the fact that PGP was a tool for human rights around the world, which was my original intent in developing it ten years ago. It appears that this nuance of reasoning was lost on someone at the Washington Post. I imagine this may be caused by this newspaper's staff being stretched to their limits last week.

In these emotional times, we in the crypto community find ourselves having to defend our technology from well-intentioned but misguided efforts by politicians to impose new regulations on the use of strong cryptography. I do not want to give ammunition to these efforts by appearing to cave in on my principles. I think the article correctly showed that I'm not an ideologue when faced with a tragedy of this magnitude. Did I re-examine my principles in the wake of this tragedy? Of course I did. But the outcome of this re-examination was the same as it was during the years of public debate, that strong cryptography does more good for a democratic society than harm, even if it can be used by terrorists. Read my lips: I have no regrets about developing PGP.

The question of whether strong cryptography should be restricted by the government was debated all through the 1990's. This debate had the participation of the White House, the NSA, the FBI, the courts, the Congress, the computer industry, civilian academia, and the press. This debate fully took into account the question of terrorists using strong crypto, and in fact, that was one of the core issues of the debate. Nonetheless, society's collective decision (over the FBI's objections) was that on the whole, we would be better off with strong crypto, unencumbered with government back doors. The export controls were lifted and no domestic controls were imposed. I feel this was a good decision, because we took the time and had such broad expert participation. Under the present emotional pressure, if we make a rash decision to reverse such a careful decision, it will only lead to terrible mistakes that will not only hurt our democracy, but will also increase the vulnerability of our national information infrastructure.

PGP users should rest assured that I would still not acquiesce to any back doors in PGP.

It is noteworthy that I had only received a single piece of hate mail on this subject. Because of all the press interviews I was dealing with, I did not have time to quietly compose a carefully worded reply to the hate mail, so I did not send a reply at all. After the article appeared, I received hundreds of supportive emails, flooding in at two or three per minute on the day of the article.

I have always enjoyed good relations with the press over the past decade, especially with the Washington Post. I'm sure they will get it right next time.

The article in question appears at

-Philip Zimmermann
24 September 2001

(This letter may be widely circulated)

Version: PGP 7.0.3

iQA/AwUBO69F2sdGNjmy13leEQIn+QCg2DjDeyibtRe61tUSplSAobdzAqEAoOMF ir3lRc4c1D/0Mmmv/JtP/E73 =HmRO

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Philip Zimmermann and 'Guilt' Over PGP

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  • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 24, 2001 @12:53PM (#2341695) Journal
    Only their users. And remember, good and evil are relative. Not everybody thinks like you do.
  • by Stickster ( 72198 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @12:58PM (#2341739) Homepage
    We who live in the D.C. area are very familiar with the Post's penchant for "manufacturing" stories where none exist. Mr. Zimmerman unfortunately was the party on the receiving end of the editorial foul play in this particular case.

    As a community, we should recognize that the Post as well as other news media outlets are NOT in their line of work to provide complete and unbiased coverage of events. They are in business to make MONEY, and that is a goal that creates in and of itself conflict of interest with reporting the truth in most (if not all) cases.

    I wish the readership of the Post was going to be privy to Mr. Zimmerman's clarifications in the same way we /.ers are.
  • Thanks Phil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:04PM (#2341771) Journal
    I was very skeptical of that article. My question: Has the Washington Post apologized or printed a correction? Better yet, have they offered to run your comment as an op-ed? They really should.
  • by doomicon ( 5310 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:10PM (#2341789) Homepage Journal
    Couple honest questions I would like to ask within this thread for clarification on this issue?

    1. What are the uses of cryptography as a "Human Rights Tool"?

    2. If in fact tools such as PGP are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    Any information provided would be greatly appreciated.

  • But there is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:22PM (#2341867) Journal
    there would be -- in someone's mind -- justification for the murder of 6,000+ innocent civilians

    There is justification in someone's mind, else it wouldn't have happened. Not saying it's a good justification, it isn't, but they felt it justified. Which proves the bankruptcy of their ideas.

  • I would like to ask PKZ a question that I have struggled with. Is it appropriate for governments to engage in electronic snooping at all? Is there an appropriate role for organizations like the NSA? If the answer to the first question is "yes", then why should the object of that snooping be limited to only fools too folish to not use something like PGP?

    My own position is confused and contradictory. I see personal communication mechanisms and security a force for good. I think that US interests would actually be served if everyone in Central Asia had the ability to communicate privately and securely with anyone they wish to. I also believe that it is a proper part of the job of governments to spy. I have problems reconciling these views.

  • Re:But there is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <revaaron&hotmail,com> on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:24PM (#2341879) Homepage
    Just like that little thing called the Crusades, that goes to prove that Christians are also morally bankrupt.
  • by Drone-X ( 148724 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:25PM (#2341890)
    You're not right about the other - good and evil are not relative. If they were, there would be -- in someone's mind -- justification for the murder of 6,000+ innocent civilians in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington last week. There is never any justification for the murder of innocents.
    I'm pretty sure the US government was convinced that A-bombing Japan was justified. Or rather, I hope they did and do believe that it was justified, it would be far worse if they themselves think of that action as evil.

    Same goes for terrorists. No matter how "inhumane" people might find their actions, if they believed/believe in their cause then their action is as just as the A-bombing of Japan.

    Awaiting countless corrections...

  • by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <revaaron&hotmail,com> on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:29PM (#2341920) Homepage
    So, would you say these indivudials have been "possesed" by "agents of Satan?" Absolute morality is a farce- relativism is the only obvious truth simply because there is a range of ideas. Those who did this felt righteous in what they did- or they wouldn't likely have done it. There are no such things as people that are evil and "desire nothing other than to prey upon their fellow human beings." Or maybe we're all these people- after all, we've all done something immoral.

    Absolutism smacks of religion, especially Christianity, which more than most religions, claims that all morals are absolute, and (surprise!) their morals are the absolutely correct ones.

    Just because you think you're right doesn't mean you are- regardless of whether or not your religion justifies it. Nor does it mean those who differ from your are wrong. But such is the purpose of religion- to give people something behind which to rally (absolute morality), and an enemy to against which to fight (those with a different set of absolute morals).

  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:29PM (#2341922)
    This is probably a troll, so mod me down for biting.

    1. What are the uses of cryptography as a "Human Rights Tool"?

    Okay, say you live in China, where the government is known to imprison members of certain religous groups using rather spurious claims that these groups are 'terrorist groups'. You've heard of the Faulan Gaun (sp?).

    How else do you meet and exchange information and be free in your religion (which the U.S. considers a 'human right') without the aid of data encryption. There are a few ways to do it, but data encryption is the safest and fastest way to do so.

    By the same token, look at Amnesty International's website. You won't be able to in China, or other certain countries, unless you use a proxy that bypasses the national filtering. Then, you won't be able to do it safely unless unless your connection to that proxy is encrypted so that you can't be spied upon. Safeweb rocks for surfing pr0n at work. It is essential tool for individuals in China who want to learn about the world around them without seeing it filtered through the prejudices of the Communist Party.

    One last example. Say you are an Amnesty International worker in a country where your work is only barely tolerated, like Afghanistan. If you're smart, you'll hide evidences of human rights abuse behind strong encryption so that the collection of that evidence can't be used against you by a hostile court. Bescrypt is the first tool that comes to mind, but I know that there are equally good open source tools that will do the same job.

    I could go on and on. Remember that these 'belligerant' governments aren't the only governments that try to violate human rights. The U.S. government will do it if they can get away with it. You've heard of Echelon? Carnivore? These privacy invading tools are completely useless in the face of 2048-bit strength DSS encryption, which is the default key-length in PGP.

    Kevin Mitnick's laptop, which is still in posession of the Fed, has *yet* to yeild up any of his secrets that could be used against him because the data inside was encrypted. I think many /.ers feel like Kevin's rights were repeatedly violated. The data in his laptop cannot be used against him to further violate his rights after he's finally out and about to be able to work again.

    Encryption is a wondrous power. Let's *not* give it up just because it rubs LEO's the wrong way. The police already have enough power to solve even the most heinous of crimes, just as they are *currently* doing in the WTC attack. Let's not give them more than they need.
  • by weslocke ( 240386 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:33PM (#2341952)
    >PGP users should rest assured that I would still not acquiesce to any back doors in PGP.

    It's really good to have a veteran with the possibility of being a champion for privacy issues. Afterall, we all know for a fact that Phil's willing to run the gauntlet in defense of what he thinks is right... I would think that's been proven.

    I just hope it won't be necessary to go to the lengths that happened last time.
  • Religion is irrelevent to the question of absolute right and wrong. People who mix them -- on either side of the argument -- are off base.

    For example, slavery has been determined to be an absolute wrong by modern society.

  • Re:But there is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tshak ( 173364 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:39PM (#2341999) Homepage
    And why don't you tell that to all Muslims who live in the US who had NOTHING to do with the attacks. Yet, the attacks where taken out as a "holy war" against the US.

    I mod your post:
    -1 Ignoramous
  • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:39PM (#2342005) Homepage
    For example, slavery has been determined to be an absolute wrong by modern society.

    I'm I the only one to get a chuckle out the irony of this statement?

    If something is an absolute it doesn't need to be "determined." It just is. Furthermore, by stating that modern society has determined it to be wrong you imply (correctly) that society at one point thought differently. Again, if something is absolute it has been for all times and under all conditions.
  • Re:But there is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HenryFlower ( 27286 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:40PM (#2342012)
    "Some Christians are morally bankrupt" does not imply "All Christians are morally bankrupt". It is just that sort of misguided reasoning that leads Islamic terrorists to justify killing innocent Americans and Americans to justify killing innocent Arabs, Pakistanis...
  • Re:Name `PGP` (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j7953 ( 457666 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:40PM (#2342014)

    Maybe "Envelope" would be a better product name.

    In fact, for this public debate, I think that even "encryption" is a bad term to use. It sounds cryptical in the most literal sense, and the average user (or politician) doesn't understand it, so it must be something scary.

    While I see a lot of people who discuss abolishing "secure email transmission" (i.e. encrypted mail), I have seen very few people who would demand backdors in "Secure Socket Layer" (i.e. encrypted HTTP) or "secure online banking" (i.e. encrypted financial transactions). The main difference between the three is that in the case of email transmission, people usually use the term "encrypted", while in the latter cases, the buzzword is "security."

    If you want to talk with average people, talk about secure communication, not about encrypted communication. Politicians will have a much harder time abolishing security than abolishing encryption.

  • Any more comments? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:50PM (#2342101)
    Frankly, I am somewhat puzzled that the company which manufactures the beard clipper used by one of the terrorists on the plane has not brought a message of apology to the world...

    Seriously: Are we going to relate every little thing in this world to the terrorism act of lately? I am just getting tired of reading so much BS about everyone trying to get some sort of visibility after the tragic events: the CNN talking heads, Bush the Donkey, the Pope, Billie Brown the SF mayor, Larry "Devil" Ellison, Richard "stadder" Stallman and now Ziziman.

    What's next? People around me, are almost starting to feel sorry that they DIDN'T know anyone who died in the attacks. I want to throw up when I hear that.

    This is human vanity at its best. Welcome to the real world!
  • Re:Thanks Phil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by j7953 ( 457666 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @01:54PM (#2342144)
    Here in Belgium, if you're named in a newspaper article and feel misrepresented, the newspaper is required by law to publish your reply.

    We have a similar law in Germany, but the reply the newspaper is forced to publish is limited to a reply only to the statement that you felt was wrong. So making use of this law wouldn't be appropriate in this case -- Mr. Zimmermann couldn't write anything beyond "The statement made by the Washington Post is wrong. I am not feeling guilty." I guess this wouldn't make him appear as one of the good guys.

  • by AmishSlayer ( 324267 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:05PM (#2342236) Homepage
    Good and evil are relative and to say otherwise is to say that your perception of them is absolute.

    Good and Evil do not exist in nature... we percieve it, it is an invention of our minds, the concept wouldn't exist if we didn't exist, and consequently our perception of it is relative.

    Some say stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family is evil, while others say it is evil to let a family go hungry.

    In this situation most of us can agree that the tragedy was evil, but that does not preclude it from being relative.

    This line train of thought makes sense especially when you are trying to defend tools. If good and evil are measurable and absolute then you could measure the evil in a tool. How evil is an object? How do you measure good or evil? You can't since the concept exists only in our minds and that means a tool cannot be good or evil... just what we percieve it to be.
  • by mo ( 2873 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:07PM (#2342262)
    Much of the encryption restriction/key-escrow debate has focused on how it will affect society if we restrict or alter the use of strong encryption. I haven't heard much debate on whether it would even be possible to enforce the use of key escrow systems or to prevent people such as terrorsts from using strong encryption.
    What are your views on this, and do you think such proposed systems could ever be enforced?
  • by kaladorn ( 514293 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:24PM (#2342410) Homepage Journal
    I agree to a limited degree with the comments
    about the human part of the human-tool pairing
    being the part from which most evil originates.

    But this does not mean all tools are devoid of
    any meaning or purpose.

    A sword, for example, is clearly a military
    tool. Its evolution, and its purpose, is
    inherent in its form. It is designed to injure
    and kill.

    The atomic bomb is designed to vaporize things.

    Yes, you can (with some effort) envision a
    situation where either of these items can be
    not-used but perhaps threatened to obtain a
    "good" outcome. But by their nature, if they
    are ever employed, the results are not what
    one would call good.

    Some tools exist for no purpose other than
    the infliction of damage upon another human.
    Some tools cannot damage another human
    practically (ie a pencil eraser). These
    tools are differentiable, one from the other,
    by this distinction of purpose and form and
    if one wants to use the problematic concepts,
    by their different potentials for doing evil.

  • by kaladorn ( 514293 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:31PM (#2342472) Homepage Journal
    When we turn a human into an object, we lay
    the foundations for inhumane treatment of the
    person in question.

    The ability to think of another human in an
    objectified manner, as in when we treat the
    local fast-food server as if he or she was
    merely an interchangeable part with no important
    human characteristics, we then begin to think
    of them in a way which (taken to the extreme)
    allows one to devalue their lives completely.

    If we make an effort to treat each human as having
    intrinsic value, every life as having some worth,
    then we begin to eliminate the thinking that
    breeds suicide bombers. For if every man's life
    has worth, then to take another life is reducing
    the worth of the world.

    Objectification is very common in our world today.
    The terrorist trainers use it (and its cousin,
    demonization) to train suicide bombers. We use
    it in our industrialized society. When we
    recognize the underlying commonality here -
    treating another person only in terms of
    inhuman characteristics such as whether they
    can serve you something, or whether they can
    deliver a service for a buck, etc. - then
    we begin to see where part of the fix lies.

    I'm not utopian enough to think good thoughts
    alone are enough. But if the democratic and
    ostensibly civilized free world does not set
    a precedent based on the value of _any_ human
    life, then they haven't attacked the mindset
    that allows manipulators to turn the downtrodden
    or aggreived into human weapons.

    And if we don't address the root cause, we can
    expect more of the same ad infinitum.

  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:36PM (#2342515) Homepage
    So our society has determined that slavery is wrong for everybody.

    So, it's a relative absolute.

    You really shouldn't be arguing in this, you're in over your head. You can't simply change the definition of absolute to suit yourself. Absolute morals can NOT exist without religion. If you're saying morals are absolute, you're saying that there's a universal law which mandates it, the only way that's possible is if there's a god doing the mandating.

    Now, I know you're not saying there's a universal law, but this means you're not talking about absolute morals, even if you think you are. If a society has decided something, then it wasn't absolute.

    What you're talking about is strictly enforced relative morals. Society X has decided that slavery is bad, and there are no exceptions. Only the last part is absolute, the first part is relative.

    Furthermore, these morals of our society aren't even enforced absolutely. Murder is wrong, except when a cop shoots a lawbreaker, or you execute a criminal, etc. Slavery is wrong, except when you put prisoners to work. And it's not different just because they're criminals. Absolute in this sense means 100%, no exceptions. If there are exceptions, it's not absolute.

    You were closer with your "laws of physics" idea, than with the point you're trying to make.
  • Backdoors? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:51PM (#2342607) Journal
    PGP users should rest assured that I would still not acquiesce to any back doors in PGP.
    I seems to remember that, not too long ago, you quite publically left NAI (the owners of the PGP franchise) after they refused to open the source of PGP 7.blah to public scrutiny.

    You also stated that you could only guarantee that version 7.slightly_lower_version_than_above was free of backdoors - in fact, you sign your open letter with version 7.0.3.

    1. How do you reconcile these two, somewhat differing, views?
    2. Which version(s) do you regard as "safe".
    3. Why don't you run the latest version?

    All the relevant versions and statements can be found in stories on /.
  • Why isn't the informed crowd playing up the fact that encrytion is key to computer security? That is, putting it into words that Congressional-types can understand and fear. "Such and such incident where that hacker (technically cracker, but they fear the word hacker.) stole a zillion credit card numbers from could have been prevented if they ONLY used encryption." "That break in where those hacker defaced wouldn't have happened if they ONLY used encryption." ...maybe even something is absurd as "That email virus could have been prevented if they ONLY used encryption."

  • Re:But there is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @03:01PM (#2342667) Homepage Journal
    As a disclaimer: The people who led the Crusades were not right in what they did.

    That said I wonder why everyone seems to forget that it was the Arabs that invaded Palistine first and killed innocent Christians and Jews in the name of Islam, thus one of the main reasons for the Crusades...

    I also wonder why no one can seem to forget an event that happened hundreds of years ago and that no one alive today (Muslim, Christian, or Jew) is responsible for it. Just because someone did something in the name of someone's god doesn't mean that the religion or the god advocate it. It was true in the time of the Crusdes (at least the God part, or Allah on the Islam side if you will) and its true now with this terrorist attack.
  • by lohen ( 122373 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @03:02PM (#2342675) Homepage
    Re your second point, I totally agree (& by extension, also with the first). Even more humorously/tragically, when the Russians sent in 80,000 troops, precipitating a conflict which killed a million Afghans, sent six million more fleeing abroad and utterly destroyed the country's economic and political infrastructure, they were doing it to 'remove terrorism'. What they actually achieved was to augment the size, experience, support-base and extremism of groups like that which bombed the WTC. Why would the repeated destruction of Afghanistan advocated in some parts turn out any differently?

  • by Theodore Logan ( 139352 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @03:08PM (#2342721)
    Question for Mr Zimmerman:

    How do you feel about NAI not releasing anything but the crypto code, as opposed to the whole shebang like when you were in charge? Do you have anything comforting to say to us who look back through a nostalgic fog at the days when you personally signed every binary copy and assured your users that every relase was backdoor-free, or is it time to revive the age-old myth about the gaping hole that allows the NSA or whoever it is to read everything you try to keep them from gleaning at?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2001 @03:13PM (#2342754)

    2. If in fact tools such as PGP are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    If in fact tools such as 767s are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    If in fact tools such as FlightSim-2000 are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    If in fact tools such as box cutters are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    If in fact tools such as personal messengers are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    If in fact tools such as maps are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    If in fact tools such as freedom of movement are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    If in fact tools such as clothing are used by terrorists, how do governments protect against this?

    Someone tell me where the line gets drawn.

  • by capoccia ( 312092 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @03:18PM (#2342794) Journal
    my dad is a brick mason. last week i went to work with him since i am having a problem finding a job. on the way home, we were listening to npr and talking about the news. when encryption came up, my dad didn't have any idea what this encryption thing was and the lady from the eff that was interviewed didn't help to explain it since she was spouting off jargon left and right.

    i used the analagy of a house, since that is what he deals with every day. everyone has locks on their doors. i told him to imagine a house where the only way you could break in was by trying different keys on the lock until one worked. the rest of the building was solid and unbreakable. i told him to suppose that if you were just trying random keys one after another on this house, it would take 10,000 years. (worse than some weak crypto, but 10k was big enough).

    i told him to suppose that the government was asking for a copy of your key and a copy of everyone else's key. the government promised they would guard the keys and only use them lawfully. we all know that at a convenient time, the lines of "lawful" would be blurred. and we also know that the place where these keys are kept would be a prime target for terrorist groups and organized crime.

    he said, "well, who would fall for that? i wouldn't give them my key?"
  • by jhritz ( 191620 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @03:20PM (#2342806)
    Do we need to come up with new analogies to explain the civil and privacy rights justification for encryption to politicians and the lay public?

    In the past we've used envelopes and locks, but I think these fall short because the reason for encryption is to create a time delay to access sufficient to dissuade the smart and lazy opponent AND allow detection of the stupid but industrious ones.

  • Not only did Catholics support the Crusades [], they enthusiastically supported them. That outbreak of mental illness lasted from 1095 A.D. to 1291; it was not an isolated circumstance. During that time Europeans traveled to Arab lands to kill them. At that time almost all Christians were Catholic.

    Many people don't understand the significance of the Crusades, which happened a long time ago. The significance is that the moral teaching of the Christians did not prevent them from designing and participating in a killing rampage.

    The Crusades were not the only Christian killing rampage. The Spanish Inquisition was another outbreak of craziness.

    The moral teachings of the Christians have not changed significantly since the Crusades. Arabs ask themselves, "What would prevent Christians from being part of another killing rampage?" That's why the crusades have significance in modern thinking. It is easy to understand that when President Bush talked about a crusade in a speech to the entire nation of the U.S., while at the same time declaring "war", Arabs became anxious.

    It is remarkable how quickly the discussion of terrorism became off-topic. People are blaming PGP!!! Do you have a right to speak to your wife in private, with no interference or listening from the government? If you do have this right, then you have a right to use PGP. Your wife may be in another country, and PGP is a way of being sure you speak only to her. If you don't have this right, then the government can legally force its way into anything you say to your wife.

    The primary reason for the violence seems to be corruption in secret agencies of the U.S. government like the CIA. For example, the CIA trained Osama bin Laden. If there is more trouble, the CIA receives more funding. So the CIA, at least unconsciously, wants more trouble.

    Israel receives an astounding $905 per year from the U.S. government for every man, woman and child who lives there. A large part of that money is spent on weapons bought from the United States. Senators in the U.S. who represent the states with weapons manufacturers have lobbied to continue giving money to Israel. The U.S. weapons manufacturers also sell weapons to the Arabs.

    I've tried to pull together information about these issues: What should be the Response to Violence? [].

    The U.S. has bombed 14 countries in the last 30 years, killing about 3,000,000 people. Yet Phil Zimmermann gets hassled for causing problems!!! Duh!
  • by PatientZero ( 25929 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @05:56PM (#2343599)
    That's all really nice until you consider that every invention has more than one use. You can't simply say that an invention is bad once someone uses it for a bad purpose.

    The research that created the nuclear bomb will one day produce a safe, cheap, earth-friendly source of abundant energy. Once this occurs, not only will we have vast amounts of energy without destroying our environment, but oil will become useless and we (U.S.) will have less reason to meddle in the Middle East.

    True, many lives have been lost in truly sad ways, but the bomb didn't get up on its own and jump out of a plane over Nagasaki. It took an American president to make the decision that it was okay to kill thousands of civilians to achieve our political goals. That, by the way, was the *same* conclusion the terrorists came to.

    Encryption technology has enabled many benefits. Besides, it's really just a more advanced form of whispering. If you're going to blame cryptologists for the actions of terrorists, then you need to blame airplane manufactures, oil companies, flight attendants, travel agencies, car rental agencies, airport security personnel, et al.

    If you *really* feel a strong need to blame someone for what happened last week, you can pretty safely point your finger at the U.S. State Department. It's been discussed here ad nauseum, but to sum up the majority of the population in the Middle East hates America *not* because we have more freedom but because our government takes action that directly impacts their access to freedom.

    If you ban encryption thinking it will keep you safe, they'll turn to other methods. If you outlaw box cutters, they'll smuggle on letter openers. The only real solution is to find the root cause of the problem and solve that. Until then you're merely patching holes in the hopes that the dam won't burst.

  • by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @08:44PM (#2344676) Homepage
    You write:

    At that time [of the Crusades] almost all Christians were Catholic.

    No, by this time the Christian world was split
    into eastern and western halves, and there was
    a lot of hostility between the Catholic and
    Orthodox worlds. When the Crusaders got to
    Palestine they found lots of Christians there,
    but these were Orthodox Christians and the
    Crusaders rejected them. They went on to sack
    Constantinople, headquarters of Eastern Christianity.

  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @01:06PM (#2347662) Homepage
    Great page. Most of it is probably right-on. I've been telling people the gist of all this for the last week (although people are generally more receptive now, now that some of the raw emotion has dissipated.)

    But, I take issue with: "Violence is caused by mentally de-centered people." and particularly "Someone who wants to commit suicide is as mentally de-centered as it is possible to be." So, in all these hollywood movies (and in real life), where the hero takes action, knowing he/she will lose his/her life for the benifit of those they love (or a population they love) are de-centered? The justification aspect of this attack has been dicussed at length, but the one key thing people miss is: lots of people WANT to die. I want to die. If I could do it in a painless way and not hurt those around me who love me, I'd die right now. More so, if my death brought benifits to those I love. If I somehow infiltrated Bin Laden's lair, I'm bomb myself to kingdom come. My life is certainly not worth the lives of many. Were all those Kamikazee pilots demonstratibly insane? No, they just believed that the benifits of their actions would go to those they love .. in some ways, it is the ultimate act of generosity. And at the end of the day, western cultures fascination with sanctity of life borders on obsession. I mean, many people acknowledge that our ability to keep old people (or coma'd people) alive is sad and inhumane. But to suggest that sanctity of life should always outweigh a true social, cultural, or religious belief is, in my opinion, tragic, wrong, and demonstratibly false when push comes to shove.

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