In Little Brother, Marcus, the main character, frequently argues with his father over the matter of whether we should give up some of our personal freedoms and privacies in order to grant more power to those seeking to prevent harm from threats like terrorism. It's a difficult debate that I have occasionally had with myself, and I've never quite come to a conclusion, but in one of those arguments, Marcus raises a great point: are we really hurting the terrorists by adding security?
The main goal of terrorism is there in the name: terror. They want to scare people-- to make them feel unsafe. That's why their attacks always come in such violent and public forms. One terrorist organization cannot possibly hope to kill each and every citizen of the United States of America, but they could quite possibly make us all fear for our lives.
Marcus's point is this: by adding more checkpoints, more data mining, more tracking, more security, less privacy, are we really acting against the terrorists? Would you really feel safer if the police considered you a potential terrorist and had eyes, ears, and possibly guns pointed in your direction at all times? If they consider you and everyone you know a suspect, then you yourself might begin to suspect those around you.
Suddenly, everyone you see on the street is a potential murderer.
Suddenly, you aren't sure if you should eat at a particular restaurant because there aren't any open seats near the door. What if someone inside started shooting?
Suddenly, you have to think long and hard about accepting a job offer because you would have to take the subway on your commute. Sure, the pay is better, but what if a bomb went off while you were underground?
In an effort to prevent terrorist attacks, law enforcement can inadvertently carry out the end goal of those attacks: terror.