Another Tool for Terrorists - Flight Information Publication

Daniel writes "The recent flap about Almanacs leads me to comment on two other, and perhaps more serious, tools for terrorists that are needed by many ordinary Americans:1) "United States Government Flight Information Publication Supplment." The volume for Alaska has a SuDoc Number of TD 4.79/2:AK/[Date]This quarterly publication provides a directory of EVERY airport/landing strip in the state. For every entry, there is a detailed diagram of the landing strip, showing nearby buildings and type of terrain. Under airport remarks, it tells you whether the landing strip is attended or not and also notes nearby roads.Sounds like something that could be used to either plan ambushes of incoming planes or to plot clandestine landings. AAs far as I can tell, this publication is NOT on the Internet, and to be fair, I'm not sure it needs to be. I'd expect a commerical pilot to keep it in the cockpit.2) Airport diagrams from the National Aeronautical Charting Office at Just type in an airport name, like John Wayne Airport in Orange County and presto! A detailed chart of the airport with labelled buildings and enough lat/long cites to enable people with GPS units to plan unpleasantness.---------------Could stuff like this be useful to terrorists? Absolutely. Should it be classified? Probably not. In the case of the landing strip directory, a lot of people in Alaska would DIE if pilots weren't able to determine emergency landing sites in a big hurry. Many private individuals own planes in Alaska and they shouldn't have to crash in the wildnerness because Homeland Security is worried about a dual use publication.Should either of these things be on the Internet for anyone in the world to use? I'm not so sure. Especially the airport charts. It seems like commercial pilots could use printed copies. If someone has use in using the online diagrams, please comment.My point is that there are a lot of things that are useful to citizens and potential terrorists alike, and as a free society, we should be willing to stand up and take the risk that information might be misused rather than take the certain harm that would come from its supression."


The dual-use nature of much information is always problematic. US society compared to the rest of the world is quite open with all sorts of information and does not really have any of the paranoia that other societies might have. The problem is that the question arises as to whether or not we are too open. In a paper for the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute available online that represents only the opinion of the author, a visiting scholar, and not that of the Institute , Dr. Jeffrey Record even argues that we should focus more on capturing and decapitating Al-Qaeda than going ahead with a broad-based conflict as we are now. With dual-use information and the propensity of those who are desparate to try any measure to attack so as to demoralize, should the global war of terror be limited to just the destruction of Al-Qaeda? There are no easy answers on this one. Preventative measures through information denial may be a double-edged sword that would hurt more than help.

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