Following a much-anticipated speech by President Obama outlining the broad parameters of reform of the NSA, I published two columns. The first, in The Conversation UK, emphasised the need to react cautiously to the speech. While, in its tone, the Obama speech suggested a firm embrace of the idea that security and liberty are complementary–rather than oppositional–concepts, the detail in the speech was light. It is that detail that will, of course, allow us ultimately to assess the meaningfulness of the proposed reform.
In a second column, on Human Rights in Ireland, I reflected on the prevention paradigm that continues to frame Obama’s approach to counter-terrorism. Of course, the US is not alone in this; preventing rather than reacting to is a core element of counter-terrorism in the UK and EU as well as in the United States. However, in all cases it is important that we are cautious and aware of the implications of a preventative mentality for decision making, policy making, and operations in the CT field. No real assessment of policy reforms or even legislative measures can be done unless we take the implications of preventativeness into account.