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Pearl Harbor, 9-11 and identity theft

Pearl Harbor Memorial
Pearl Harbor Memorial
Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Today we commemorate the lives lost during Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor 72 years ago. Congress declared war on Japan the day after the sneak attack, which marked the entrance of the U.S. into World War II. There are similarities between Pearl Harbor and the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, which launched the U.S. into the war on terrorism. There are differences too, such as the role that identity theft played in the assault on America on 9/11.

At Pearl Harbor, most of the 2,403 deaths and the wounded were military personnel--Navy, Marines and Army; 68 of the dead and 35 of the wounded were civilians. There were 2,973 victims in the 9/11 terrorist attacks--most were civilians; 55 were military personnel killed at the Pentagon.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor may have been averted if intelligence was decoded and communicated in timely manner. The surprise attacks on 9/11 have also been attributed to the mishandling of intelligence, although hindsight is 20/20.

None of the more than 350 Japanese bombers, 55 of which died in the battle, committed identity theft to facilitate their raid. The 19 terrorists behind the 9/11 suicide attacks had over 350 identities of people like you and me. The terrorist identity thieves used the identities to enter the U.S. illegally; to elude law enforcement and move about freely in the U.S.; and to finance and execute their mission.

Even today, many Americans including our leaders at the local, state and federal levels of government fail to grasp the consequences that identity theft has on its victims and on our right to let alone--privacy. Too often government bureaucrats treat our most precious asset, our identity, as a mere number--a Social Security number.