Scrying for terrorists


Tall ships and tall kings Three times three, What brought they from the foundered land Over the flowing sea? Seven stars and seven stones And one white tree … — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

NPR’s Morning Edition recently featured a California software company that’s working with the U.S. government to track terrorist activity through phone calls and ATM activity. The Silicon Valley firm, called Palantir Technologies, borrows its name from the palantíri, the seeing-stones used to communicate across long distances in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Each palantir resembled the crystal balls so common in popular images of fantasy and wizardry.

The danger of the palantíri, however, was that they worked both ways.

Stare too long into the abyss, and it stares into you … and what is created as a tool for good ends up being used for great evil.

Cliches aside, I wonder if the government has considered enlisting clairvoyants in the hunt for violent extremists? I mean, law-enforcement agencies have been known to do so when tracking down kidnappers and serial killers …

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