From Act II, Chapter 3
. . . My breakfast companion at the hotel the next morning, David Omand, is the leading authority on one strategy: techno-control. His great innovation, as Britain's terrorism chief from 2002 to 2005, was the installation of cameras--thousands of cameras--to place almost every square meter of central London under video surveillance. The grid is too vast for much in the way of active monitoring--though techniques are being developed to identify problems in real time with computer imaging. The plan has, however, provided law enforcement with after-the-act images of terrorists on the move, which have led to the identification of suicide bombers and in some cases their accomplices--photos that viewers now regularly see on television. The loss of privacy for Londoners was, at first, controversial, but, Omand says with satisfaction over his eggs, "they've become surprisingly comfortable" with the surveillance "in a rather short time.
"People go about their lives; this is just an invisible part of that life."
Omand, now out of government, has been making the rounds in the past year giving frank and elegant speeches from Lisbon to Palo Alto that are regularly cited for their straight-talk renderings of the arc of the counterterrorism battle.
He, like others, often notes that "preemptive secret intelligence is the key," but Omand has been brutally frank of late about why it has become so problematic to gather: "It is probably the case that by using methods such as extraordinary rendition, deep interrogation, indefinite detention, and targeted killing, that the U.S. has lost more--and her allies with her--than we have gained in short-term relief from terrorist attacks," he told a packed house at Stanford University in February. Omand's closing remarks at the Stanford speech have been collected and pinned to the wall--or rather the My Documents file--of countless counterterrorism officials worldwide, a reminder of why extraordinary extrajudicial means play into the hands of the opponent:
"The aim of the al Qaeda leadership for the present phase of their campaign is not just to attack us. It is to try to create the impression throughout the Muslim world that a global struggle against oppression is under way in which violent jihad against us is a personal duty since, in their eyes, the policies of the US and its allies towards the Muslim world are incurably discriminatory and at heart colonial. Through constantly tempting us into over-reaction, they want to expose our values as fragile and hypocritical, suppressing civil rights at home and supporting apostate and repressive governments overseas. We should recognise their motive as the well-understood tactic of the revolutionary through the ages, and not fall for it." . . .
Sir David Omand has held a number of top positions in the British government, among them head of the Government Communications Headquarters (the British signals intelligence agency), permanent secretary of the Home Office, and permanent secretary and security intelligence coordinator in the Cabinet Office. Before leaving government in 2005, Omand spearheaded the "ring of steel" surveillance program in London. He remains one of the world's top experts on domestic security and counterterrorism.