The Catastrophic Consequences of 9/11

This is an interesting essay—it claims to be the first in a series—that looks at the rise of “homeland security” as a catastrophic consequence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

In this usage catastrophic is not a pejorative, it is a description of an atypically radical shift in perception and behavior from one condition to another very different condition.

Hypothesis: The velocity of a catastrophic shift is correlated with two factors: 1) preexisting systemic resilience and 2) the intentionality of post-catastrophe response. The more resilience and intentionality depend on control mechanisms, the greater velocity of change. The more resilience and intentionality are predisposed to creative adaptation, the velocity of change is reduced.

More coming.

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 6:43 AM25 Comments


Captain Obvious June 8, 2012 7:55 AM

At some point we’ll come to realize it’s not about security, but money and power.

Interesting the link with Pearl Harbor…

Jeroen June 8, 2012 8:11 AM

In this usage catastrophic is not a
pejorative, it is a description of an
atypically radical shift in perception and
behavior from one condition to another >very different condition.

“Catastrophic” is an English word with a well-established meaning (Something along the lines of “extremely harmful”). So it’s not entirely clear to me why the author chooses that particular word, and then goes on to tell his readers what he really means is “radical”.

Bernie June 8, 2012 9:34 AM

I’ve said all along that the terrorists basically have won the “war on terror”. Terrorism is not about conquering and destroying but in sowing fear. Our once strong and self-assured country is now fearful and paranoid. We tolerate outrageous surveillance and privacy invasions in the name of “security”.

Poppy Ann Miller June 8, 2012 10:47 AM

Thousands of people world-wide believe that 9/ll was carried out with the complicity of the U.S government and others who have a vested interest in promulgating fear of a particular regime. You only need to look at U.S ‘friends’ to suss out who those ‘others’ might be. And while you’re at it take a look at 7/7 London attacks

ac June 8, 2012 11:24 AM

‘catastrophe’ also has meaning in mathematics, as in Catastrophe Theory. The meaning in the easy would seem to be more in line with that usage.

Joe June 8, 2012 11:35 AM

Being a terrorist these days is must be the easiest job in the world. All they have to do is make an anonymous threat of an attack and we will go berserk with regulating, legislating, surveilling, and infringing. They don’t even have to actually do anything to harm our country anymore because we will vote for people who will happily do it for them in the name of safety.

Muhammad - ‏محمد June 8, 2012 12:03 PM

Mr. Schneier, 911 was an inside job.
مسٹن شنائر، 911 ایک اندرونی کام تھاـ

Clive Robinson June 8, 2012 12:23 PM

@ Bruce,

Your link “now” points to the second “Friday” Article from the author (apparently he plans thirty such articles on three subject areas).

@ Captin Obvious,

At some point we’ll come to realize it’s not about security, but money and power.

It’s funny you should say that, if you read down to the article of the 16th of April (Barriers to a Whole of Community Response to Anything : Arnold Bogis). the author says,

Like many things in life, it comes down to power and money. Power in terms of secrecy–who decides what information is shared with the Community Money spent to support planning by all members of the Community, or perhaps just a select few depending to which opinion you listen

If you read the article he is arguing that designators like “For Official Use Only” (FOUO) claimed around “sources and methods” makes the government of today, much like the Holy Roman Church (later Catholic Church) of times past.

That is withholding information from the masses for various reasons enables “control” via removing power from the governed, and thus also money, so as to ensure such influance is maintained by buying baubles and finary to set themselves apart in a show designed to engender compliance via “Faith” (or FUD as we would now call it).

I guess the logical question then becomes “What of The Spanish Inquisition, The English Witch Finder General or later Ameican Salem Witch Trials, what is it’s modern counter part?”

Perhaps the “Un-American Activities” commision of Senator Joe McCathy was just a gentle warm up act of things to come. After all much of the current behaviour was identified by others long prior to that. Individuals such as the likes of George Orwell, of whom some would claim since 9/11 his predictions of dire consequences in the likes of. Animal Farm and 1984 are perhaps a little to “rose tinted”.

anonymous coward June 8, 2012 2:04 PM


Cryptanalist Marc Stevens from the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam, known for ‘breaking’ the MD5 hash function for https security in 2008, analyzed the recent Flame virus this week. He discovered that for this spy malware an as yet unknown cryptographic attack variant of his own MD5 attack is used. Stevens analyzed this with new forensic software that he developed. Initially, the researcher assumed that Flame used his own attack, which was made public in June 2009, but this was not the case. “Flame uses a completely new variant of a ‘chosen prefix collision attack’ to impersonate a legitimate security update from Microsoft. The design of this new variant required world-class cryptanalysis,” says Marc Stevens. “It is very important to invest in cryptographic research, to continue to be ahead of these developments in practice.”

RSaunders June 8, 2012 3:14 PM

@ Captain Obvious

Exactly, the World Trade Center cost $2.3B (in 2012 dollars) to build over about 10 years from 1975 to 1985. From 2002 to 2012 the USA spent $60B (20+ times more money) on the TSA. If even 10% of the TSA budget had been spent building World Trade Centers, we’d have two of them by now.

The scenario “al Queda destroys a building so the US builds two of them in a thumb-your-nose gesture” wasn’t pursued because the folks in charge saw a way to justify spending 10 times more money on nothing. The real advantage of doing nothing is “the problem doesn’t get any easier” as they are fond of saying. If what your doing doesn’t solve the problem, you need to be told to stop doing it. You’ll never stop on your own, for fear of admitting defeat.

kashmarek June 8, 2012 3:58 PM

The reference to Pearl Harbor originally came from material published by PNAC, the Project for a New American Century, authored/backed by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz. The plan was written before BushCo took office and implemented by BushCo after 9/11. In the PNAC documents, it was indicated we would need another Pearl Harbor to move America back to greatness (whose greatness is a lot clearer today). 9/11 wasn’t about terrorism, it was about greed and control.

Muhammad - محمد June 8, 2012 4:41 PM

@Clive Robinson: “US military suicide rate hits one per day” – source

Mr. Schneier & Clive: Do you want more solidiers and their families to become psychologically ill? If yes, then keep supporting extension of war. Bear in mind that suicidal rate in US military is increasing day by day. Do some calculation. What will happen if more of them die like this? It is not only soldiers who do suicides, it is infact their family who will suffer from their suicides.

Do both of you know how much a soldier cost to American tax payers? Do you know exact fugure that how much US government currently spending in Afghanistan? Do you know results of last year drone strike in Pakistan, where USA killed a big quantity of Pakistani soldiers? If not then let me tell you. The NATO supply line was cut by Pakistan. Pakistan had taken back Shamsi Airbase from US. Do you know the consequences of NATO supply line cut?

Let me sum up. The moral of US and Nato soldiers who are fighting against so called Terrorists is going down day by day. Do you think an organization like Al-Qaeda had really planned 911? If they really had expertise to plan that kind of attack some 11 years ago, then where is it now? Don’t you think US trained Osama Bin Ladin? Where is his death body. Where is the proof that they really killed O B L? Do you really think that people like Khalid Sheikh can plan attacks on a scale such as 911 without even visiting USA? Wasn’t something wrong? Don’t you think something is missing. Some clues are not been told to people. Don’t you think some top level cruel people are deceiving innocent Americans?

I would like you to watch “National Geographic History Channel”, where you will probably see some world war 2 videos. There was a time when Hitler’s army were conquering Eastern Europe. They even reached close to Moscow, but then they started losing the battle. The point I would like you to note is, “Hitler’s army personals started doing suicides, when they reached close to Stallin’s Moscow”.

Some reasons of suicidals in Hitler’s army were following,

  1. Extreme cold weather reaching – 40 degree centigrade.
  2. They were hit by diarrhea.
  3. Lack of food and clothes.

Although, currently US and NATO allies currenly are not facing any of above condition but they are facing these conditions,

  1. Extreme loneliness (They had passed a long time away from home, family and friends).
  2. Guilty feelings that they had killed innocent children, women and mens.

Keep remember following fact which has hidden meanings,

“Water become solid when temperature goes down and become gas when temperature goes high”. Humans behaviour is like water too (for those who know properties of material).

Joe June 8, 2012 5:17 PM


I am not sure how you got the impression that Mssrs. Schneier and Robinson support the military interventions waged after 9/11.

My impression is that they and most of the commenters on this blog feel those were a serious mistake.

DoctorT June 8, 2012 5:46 PM

@Joe: “… All they [terrorists] have to do is make an anonymous threat of an attack…”

… or take the credit for some nut-case who puts explosives in his sneaker or his underwear…

Clive Robinson June 8, 2012 8:26 PM

@ Muhammed,

… then keep supporting extension of war.

What on earth makes you think we do?

Whilst I can not speak for others I don’t happen to just think about the number of sensless deaths in the conflict zones in the numbers of US or other troops, I think about all the deaths and have done since well before the Kuwait invasion. I also think about those deaths yet to come over the next half century or so due to the debris of war.

Further I also think about the other deaths the various wars bring about due to the diversion of resources and lost economic opportunities.

When thought of in these broader terms it is easy to see that in the longterm nobody benifits from war and even in the short term those that think they are benifiting actually don’t.

And contrary to what many other people think, I don’t want “Democracy for every Nation” or atleast not what passes for democracy in the West. Because it’s actually “representational democracy”, which is just another form of patronage system, full of bribery and corruption of one form or another. What I want is “peaceful self determination” by whatever means the majority of all adults in a country or region want.

However I’m sufficiently realistic to realise it is very unlikely to happen in my and probably your liftime or that of our children. Why? well I live in Europe and European history has much to tell us about how things go wrong, but little of how things go right.

But all history teaches us things, so perhaps you might have a look at the history of “water rights” and what has occured with them throughout written history it might tell you something about mankinds nature.

Wael June 8, 2012 9:37 PM

@ Muhammed – محمد ,

” Extreme cold weather reaching – 40 degree centigrade.”

“- 40 degrees” is sufficient; -40 C = -40 F.

Wael June 8, 2012 9:41 PM

@ Muhammed,

“Extreme cold weather reaching – 40 degree centigrade.”

“- 40 degrees” is sufficient; -40 C = -40 F.

Dirk Praet June 9, 2012 2:33 PM

@ Muhammed,

… then keep supporting extension of war.

I believe an apology is in order here. Your accusation is baseless and shows zero understanding of Clive’s and Bruce’s opinions – either explicit or implied – on the matter.

Martha Stewart June 11, 2012 6:36 AM

the canonical response is of course Terrorists ate my Homework

Everywhere we look there are terrorists, under the beds, of course, and quite obscenely, on top of the beds – heaven alone knows just what they think they’re doing under the beds – what they get to on top of them is quite disgusting, and and requires the sheets to be washed, pronto!!!

(Home help just isn’t the same these days – terrorists have infiltrated the home help networks along with the counter-terrorists, and if your home help isn’t infiltrating your home to expose you as a terrorist, they are planting bombs in the toilet and amongst the bushes … it can get horribly dangerous to take a leak these days, let alone have a cup of tea … )

Aren’t we lucky that aliens haven’t infiltrated the government disguised as humans disguised as gorillas disguised as humans … !?!

Jog4Hoagies June 14, 2012 11:15 AM

“9/11 terrorist attacks” – That depends if you believe what the media told you, was who they said it was.

Muhammad August 19, 2012 2:11 PM

I think, I was wrong. I would like to apologise here. Mr. Schneier and Mr. Robinson, please accept my apology, I would like to take my words back.

However, my words had been listened by someone ( ). They had approved three million dollar project of Nosal spray, which will help soldiers from doing suicides.

Do not get me wrong. I am not with the enemies, I am with the energy…

Muhammad August 19, 2012 2:24 PM


…They had approved three million dollar project of Nosal spray, which will help soldiers from not doing suicides.

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