So, just as President Obama is giving a big speech on cyber-security, the jihackists of the Islamic State manage to take over the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the Pentagon's Central Command. The juxtaposition would be too cheap and heavy-handed for any discerning playwright or novelist, but these days reality is less fussy: It's Mohammed's world, we just live in it.
Hacking into the Pentagon's social media accounts isn't the same as hacking into the Pentagon's classified databases. But as a thumb in the eye to the Great Satan it has a certain style.
And it's not irrelevant to the central question facing the still freeish world after the 17 dead in Paris last week.
There are those of us who think the issue is Islam - not all of Islam or at any rate not all Muslims, but a strain of Islam, and the one that's making all the running in the Muslim world today.
And there are those who say pay no attention to all the fellows howling "Allahu Akbar" and hooting about avenging the Prophet: There's no Islam to see here.
The latter group includes almost everyone who matters in the running of the western world. And so, in lieu of addressing the ideological challenge, they're offering us a security solution: oh, sure, occasionally someone will get through and there'll be some dead journalists or Jews or coffee-shop patrons or soldiers strolling through London streets, but they won't get through that often - because of our superior technology and intelligence gathering and surveillance techniques. As I wrote back in August:
I had the uneasy feeling, as with Cameron, that the upshot would be a world in which, in five or ten years' time, it will be more difficult and burdensome for law-abiding persons to fly from London to New York for a two-day business meeting or from Toronto to Athens for a week in the Greek islands. In other words, the political leadership of the western world will attempt to micro-manage the problem through the panopticon security state.
Indeed, if you look at post-Paris policy posturing, that's all they're talking about:
At the invitation of Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior of the French Republic, the ministers of the interior/ and or justice of Latvia, Rihards Kozlovskis, President Pro Tempore of the EU Council of Ministers, of Germany, Thomas de MaiziÃ¨re, of Austria, Johanna Mikl - Leitner, of Belgium, Jan Jambon, of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, of Spain, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, of Italy, Angelino Alfano, of the Netherlands, Ivo Opstelten, of Poland, Theresa Piotrowska, and of the United Kingdom, Theresa May and of Sweden, Anders Ygeman, met on January 11 , 2015, in Paris and adopted the following statement in the presence of European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, Attorney General of the United States Eric H. Holder, Jr., United States Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety of Canada, and European Counter - Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.
And what did all these grandees decide? Well, like the lads of the cyber-caliphate, they're all about the Internet - that's to say, "while safeguarding that it remains, in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms , a forum for free expression", they're going to lean on Internet providers "to create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing".
Ah. So to honor the memory of all those cartoonists who died for free speech they're going to police free speech ever more rigorously. This is already a culture in which a Yorkshireman can be arrested for posting a video of him dumping a Koran in the toilet, and in which the useless totalitarian twerps of the Scottish Police openly threaten the citizenry that they're under constant surveillance. What's more likely under the new security regime? That they'll be cracking down on ISIS recruiters and firebreathing imams? Or just creating makework schemes for Constable McPlod to chastise the multiculturally insensitive?
And don't think this approach is confined only to the EU:
U.S. President Barack Obama will invite allies to a Feb. 18 security summit in Washington to try and prevent violent extremism, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Sunday after meeting his European counterparts in Paris...
Cazeneuve said the Internet needs to remain a space for free expression, but that Europe should fight against abusive use of the web to spread hate speech, anti-Semitic messages and the recruiting vulnerable young people for violence.
"We need to work more closely with Internet companies to guarantee the reporting and if possible removal of all content that amounts to an apology of terrorism or calls for violence and hatred," he said.
"Violent extremism", eh? No need to get more specific than that, is there?
If this were likely to work, maybe it would be enough. But, as the Islamic State has just demonstrated rather drolly, the security state isn't that secure. And not just the Chinese and the Russians but the Norks and the new caliphate are getting rather good at poking holes in it.