If it is a tool we use in the fight against terror one can bet that the ACLU will
be against it. When the NY Times revealed classified information that we are trying
to track international phone calls of suspected terrorists, the ACLU took that ball
and are still running with it. When the
NY Times leaked classified information that we are trying to track international
bank transactions in order to catch terrorists the ACLU jumped on board with that too. If
the NY Times doesn’t leak it to everyone,
the ACLU will do its best by filing freedom of Information Act requests.
In the face of suspicions that the government is using cutting-edge
brain-scanning technologies on suspected terrorists being held overseas or at home,
the American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it has filed a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) requests with all the primary American security agencies.
“There are certain things that have such powerful implications for our society
– and for humanity at large — that we have a right to know how they are being
used so that we can grapple with them as a democratic society,” said Barry
Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “These
brain-scanning technologies are far from ready for forensic uses and if deployed
will inevitably be misused and misunderstood.”
I know that the ACLU claim to be the experts on rights, but I’m not sure where they
found this “right to know” every secret government program used in a time
of war. This must be one of those rights the ACLU made up out of thin air. Furthermore
the ACLU’s leap that it would be inevitable that the program would be misused and
misunderstood is pure biased opinion on their part.
FMRI is a technique for determining which parts of the brain are
activated by different types of physical sensation or activity, such as sight, sound
or the movement of a subject’s fingers. This brain mapping is achieved by setting
up an advanced MRI scanner in a special way so that the increased blood flow to
the activated areas of the brain shows up on Functional MRI scans. (See here for
a description of the physiology of the BOLD response.) The whole FMRI process will
now be briefly described.
The subject in a typical experiment will lie in the magnet and a particular form
of stimulation will be set up. For example, the subject may wear special glasses
so that pictures can be shown during the experiment. Then, MRI images of the subject’s
brain are taken. Firstly, a high resolution single scan is taken. This is used later
as a background for highlighting the brain areas which were activated by the stimulus.
Next, a series of low resolution scans are taken over time, for example, 150 scans,
one every 5 seconds. For some of these scans, the stimulus (in this case the moving
picture) will be presented, and for some of the scans, the stimulus will be absent.
The low resolution brain images in the two cases can be compared, to see which parts
of the brain were activated by the stimulus.
After the experiment has finished, the set of images is analyzed. Firstly, the raw
input images from the MRI scanner require mathematical transformation (Fourier transformation,
a kind of spatial inversion) to reconstruct the images into real space, so that
the images look like brains. The rest of the analysis is done using a series of
tools which correct for distortions in the images, remove the effect of the subject
moving their head during the experiment, and compare the low resolution images taken
when the stimulus was off with those taken when it was on. The final statistical
image shows up bright in those parts of the brain which were activated by this experiment.
These activated areas are then shown as coloured blobs on top of the original high
resolution scan, for interpretation of the experiment. This combined activation
image can be rendered in 3D, and the rendering can be calculated from any angle.
(See here for a brief overview of GLM analysis.)
Now why would the public need to know about this and debate it? This kind of information
is for our elected officials to decide, and our enemies don’t need to know about
The most likely technology to be used for anti-terrorism purposes
is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which can produce live, real-time
images of people’s brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds,
and respond to other stimuli. Two private companies have announced that they will
begin to offer lie detection services using fMRI as early as this summer. These
companies are marketing their services to federal government agencies, including
the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and
the CIA, and to state and local police departments.
?This technology must not be deployed until it is proven effective ? and we are
a long way away from that point, according to scientists in the field, said Steinhardt.
What we don’t want is to open our newspapers and find that another innocent person
has been thrown into Guantanamo because interrogators have jumped to conclusions
based on a technology no one understands very well.?
Who does the effectiveness of the program have to be proven to? If it has to be
proven to the ACLU it would never happen. If the companies that have developed
the technology are providing this service to the government as a useful means they
are staking their reputation on its effectiveness. The ACLU admit that they don’t
understand it well. Who would better understand it than those that developed it?
The ACLU’s FOIA requests were filed yesterday with the Pentagon,
NSA, CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
?These brain-scanning technologies have potentially far-reaching implications, yet
uncertain results and effectiveness, said Steinhardt. And we are still in our
infancy when it comes to understanding the underlying processes of the brain that
the scanners have begun to reveal. We do not want to see our government yet again
deploying a potentially momentous technology unilaterally and in secret, before
Americans have had a chance to figure out how it fits in with our values as a nation.?
I say let’s experiment on terrorist, what better testing ground
can you ask for? The ACLU has become just plain ridiculous, and they are not working
in the best interest of our country. The New York Times, the leakers and the ACLU,
who I refer to as the American Communist Liberation Union, are killing us in the
war on terror!
So, what are we going to learn from an FOIA request? That they are using what I
just told you about? Gee, that will be very helpful to the American people won’t
I’d just like to know how the ACLU would have us handle the war on terror. It seems
they want us to fight the killers with kid gloves. If someone can name me one anti-terrorist
program our government has implemented that the ACLU has approved of we might have
a debate. I can’t think of one. If we are to fight the war on terror the way the
ACLU wants we might as well just go ahead and surrender.
Bill O’Reilly is right on target.
The anti-Bush crew, led by The New York Times and the ACLU want
civilian trials for terrorists, no coerced interrogation, no rendition for terrorists
to other countries, no war in Iraq, and on and on. As I opine, The Times and other
committed left media believe the Bush administration — and not the terrorists –
is the primary danger to this country.
That’s ironic, because every once in a while I think it is the ACLU and far left
that pose more of a danger to America.