Skating on Stilts (Hardcover)

Why We Aren't Stopping Tomorrow's Terrorism (Hoover Institution Press Publication)

By Stewart A. Baker

Hoover Institution Press, 9780817911546, 360pp.

Publication Date: June 15, 2010

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Description

Stewart A. Baker examines the technologies we love–jet travel, computer networks, and biotech–and finds that they are likely to empower new forms of terrorism unless we change our current course a few degrees and overcome resistance to change from business, foreign governments, and privacy advocates. He draws on his Homeland Security experience to show how that was done in the case of jet travel and border security but concludes that heading off disasters in computer networks and biotech will require a hardheaded recognition that privacy must sometimes yield to security, especially as technology changes the risks to both.

In a lively memoir, the author tells how he overcame the European Union’s privacy campaign against U.S. security measures in the wake of 9/11 and built a new border security strategy based on better information about travelers.  He explains how that approach would deal with air security risks such as Umar Abdulmutallab (the “Christmas Day Bomber”).  He admits to failures as well, showing how the privacy and business lobbies that guard the status quo were able to defeat attempts at increased Internet security and stronger regulation of biotechnology. Instead of fighting all technologies that strengthen government, he concludes, privacy campaigners must look for ways to protect privacy by working with technology, not against it.



About the Author

Stewart A. Baker was the first assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. He now practices law at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C., and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. His law practice covers homeland security, international trade, cybersecurity, data protection, and foreign investment regulation. Baker has also served as general counsel of the Robb-Silberman Commission investigating intelligence failures before the Iraq war (2004–5), as general counsel of the National Security Agency (1992–94), and as deputy general counsel of the Education Department (1979–81). He clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court and Judge Frank M. Coffin on the First Circuit Court.