Illusions of Security
Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World
"Instead of waiting for a crime to be committed and suspects to be investigated, prosecuted, and convicted, the US government adopted the idea of preempting and disrupting terrorism. Such a profound policy shift justifies any amount of surveillance or guilt by association. And it isn't just the US: governments share suspects, intelligence operation, and policing, and are willing to jettison democracy in return.. . . Is that greater security? Not to Webb."
Wendy Grossman, The Register
"Maureen Webb focuses on what we don't know and makes the overriding point that, in the name of security, electronic surveillance of ordinary citizens has become pervasive and intrusive. And while it is largely ineffective against perceived terrorist threats, she adds, electronic surveillance is proving a boon to private industry -- both those producing the technology and those starting to use it for reasons unrelated to terrorism."
Chris Cobb, The Ottawa Citizen
"Illusions of Security is probably the most comprehensive snapshot to date of official overstretch and incompetence in the 'war on terror;' . . . because every harrowing story of mistaken identity, unlawful detention and personal suffering really happened."
"Webb focuses her criticism on the governments of Canada and the United States, but persuasively documents international cooperation on illegal, or at least immoral, high-tech information gathering. Webb also writes in detail about how governments, following the lead of the Bush administration, use 'terrorism' as an excuse to 'serve agendas that go far beyond security from terrorism – namely the suppression of dissent, harsh immigration and refugee policies, increased law enforcement power,' and the consolidation of political power within governments, and in exerting control over national populations."
May 1, 2007
"'Illusions of Security' provides a comprehensive, detailed, and
disturbing review of a decade of mass surveillance activities, with
particular focus on the worldwide shift in investigative techniques in
the post-9/11 world." -- EPIC Journal
“Maureen Webb pulls all the pieces together – special rendition, no-fly lists, biometric surveillance, warrant-less wiretaps, torture – to create a harrowing picture of post 9-11 state repression. This valuable guide makes clear how dramatically civil liberties have been attacked in recent years.”
Christian Parenti, author of The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq, The Soft Cage and Lockdown America
"Through the various 'frozen scandals' of the War on Terror – from extraordinary rendition to torture to warrant-less wiretapping and surveillance – runs a single theme: the Bush Administration's obsessive concern with 'the preemption of risk.' In Illusions of Security, Maureen Webb manages to construct a broader, compelling narrative out of what had seemed the isolated abuses of a single government, and to follow that grim narrative fearlessly where it leads: to a darker, less democratic and more frightening future."
Mark Danner, author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror
"'Your government is spying on you, and it's going to get worse until we do something about it,’ is Maureen Webb's message in her brilliant, much needed new book. In measured, lucid detail, Webb presents a wide-ranging account of the emerging global network of surveillance that is infringing on the personal privacy and civil liberties of people in the United States and worldwide."
Nadine Strossen, President, ACLU
"Illusions of Security is a thorough and terrifying compendium of the threats to democracy posed by the unquestioning use of technology. Maureen Webb portrays a frightening image of high-placed officials playing with their technological toys; meanwhile the real world – and its real insecurities – elude them."
Ellen Ullman, author of The Bug: A Novel and Close to the Machine
“Tracking the myriad ways in which governments – aided by advanced technology and profit-hungry corporations – are monitoring and manipulating us, she reminds us that the only predictable consequence of it all is human suffering, with little or no increase in real security.”
Robert Jensen, University of Texas at Austin professor and author of The Heart of Whiteness and Citizens of the Empire
"She has riveted our attention on the scale and capacity of the global surveillance system that has been set up since the terrorist outrages of 2001. This is a compelling book and it should be compulsory reading."
Jeremy Waldron, Professor of Philosophy, NYU and author of The Dignity of Legislation and Law and Disagreement
“Maureen Webb exposes deep and wide how the erosion and destruction of civil liberties and human rights on an international scale may well be the death knell for democracy. She issues a provocative challenge in these pages: can we roll back the emerging police state out of our constitution and imagine a world ruled human rights, law and mutual cooperation?”
Arnoldo Garcia, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
"George Orwell and Michel Foucault together could not have imagined the future that Maureen Webb warns is already here – a state of global surveillance that challenges all of our most deep-seated expectations of privacy. Highly readable and critically important. Read it to see who's watching you."
David Cole, author of Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism
net.wars: Fusion cuisine and the Chamber of Legislative Horrors
Mar 2, 2007
In Britain, the home of habeus corpus and the Magna Carta, the London 2012 Olympics are serving as the excuse to give police powers to inspect postal packages for drugs, track individuals through the use of CCTV and electronic travel passes, and identify suspects through their relatives' DNA stored among the 3 million samples held in the nation's DNA database...
"Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World"
Feb 20, 2007
Canadian human rights attorney and author Maureen Webb discusses the comprehensive scope of government surveillance, and finds that the use of sophisticated methods to search for terrorists is not identifying the right suspects...
Government Spying Goes Global
Dec 12, 2006
The government is tracking your transactions to help find terror suspects -- a move that makes about as much sense as assigning guilt based on Google keyword searches...
Welcome Aboard Air Kafka ...
Dec 7, 2006
The story which broke on Friday about a traveler risk scoring system called the Automated Targeting System, or "ATS," evokes an image of an Orwellian world in which the State compiles a secret dossier on every individual and sorts the population according to secret criteria, assigning each person a "risk score."...
Inside the Feds' Secret Wiretapping Rooms
Sep 20, 2006
Congress is considering three bills to "reform" massive surveillance programs. But secret facilities around the country are already eavesdropping on Americans.
Another Patriot Act Abuse
Mar 15, 2007
The FBI has been abusing its powers under the PATRIOT Act to obtain highly personal information on American citizens. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he is going to get to the bottom of it and "make things right as quickly as possible". FBI Director Robert Meuller blames himself for not putting more safeguards in place...
Here’s Spyin’ on You, Kid.
Here’s Spyin’ on You, Kid.
By Gilbert Wesley Purdy
Maureen Webb is Co-Chair of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, a member of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and a co-founder of the Campaign Against Mass Surveillance. Her first book, Illusions of Security, begins with the story of Ottawa residents, and Canadian citizens, Maher and Monia Arar. On the basis of a casual friendship between Maher and Abdullah Amalki, the brother of a coworker, Maher was renditioned from the United States, where he had been to waiting for a connecting flight to Montreal, to a Syrian prison. He remained in the prison for a year during which he was frequently tortured. . . .