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Al Qaeda Would Love Your E-mails to Remain Private

By Michael B. Mukasey

We’ve all heard a lot about privacy over the last several years. Since I’ve taken over as Attorney General, the question I’ve gotten more than any other is, will my privacy be sacrificed to fight the War on Terror? The short answer is, yes. And the reason is because Al Qaeda loves your privacy. They thrive on it. In fact, Osama Bin Laden and the other leaders of that fanatical terrorist group would love nothing more than for your e-mails and telephone calls to remain private. Trust me, I know. I’m the Attorney General. I’m privy to information that allows me some substantial insight into the workings of the mind of the radical jihadist. And if there’s one thing they love more than blowing themselves up, it’s Americans having their privacy.

But let’s talk about this much-vaunted “privacy.” Specifically, let’s look at privacy in relation to the emails you send and receive. So, why should your emails be read by the government? Is there a good reason? Well, let’s see. If we can’t read your e-mails, there is a very real risk that we will miss a key piece of information that could help us prevent a terrorist attack. In fact, it is quite possible, in fact probable, that if we don’t read the emails you send and receive, you will die. You will die in a fiery, horrific bombing or other attack of that sort. It will not be pretty, and it will not “feel good.” So I turn the question to you. Is there a good reason for us to read your emails? I think the answer is obvious.

And why wouldn’t you want us to read them? Why wouldn’t you want to allow the good people that work on your behalf to protect and defend you to look into the simple globs of text you send over the internet to your friends, co-workers, family and others? Are your emails so precious, after all? Are you a modern day internet Shakespeare? What, I ask you, is so very special about your emails that they should not be read by people trying to prevent this country from being attacked? Is it because you have something to hide? Something related to the War on Terror? And if so, isn’t it your responsibility to let us know about it, so we can better fight that war? Again, I think the answer is as plain as the beard on a jihadist’s face. For when you weigh the two, your precious “privacy” vs. being blown into several thousand tiny pieces by a dirty bomb, I think any reasonable person knows which one carries more weight.

Believe me, I say this for you, not for me. After all, I’ll probably be all right. In the event of an attack, I’ll likely be rushed off to some secure bunker or shelter somewhere. As I said, I’m the Attorney General. But you? I doubt your house or apartment has bomb-proof walls. I just don’t think it’s likely.