"Media is more than half the battle." That's the motto of the State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism. It's taken from a remark by an enemy leader, Al Qaeda's current commander, and it's demonstrated by the highly sophisticated recruiting videos produced by the so-called Islamic State. But it works both ways. Law enforcement at all levels is able to monitor social media — and to identify what are called "known wolves."
By monitoring social media, investigators around the world have discovered hundreds of thousands of want-to-be terrorists. Does that mean atrocities can be prevented? Last week, two men were arrested with plans to board planes just because they wanted to join ISIS. How was it legal to intervene before they'd done anything wrong? Should the civil rights of suspects be suspended for the human rights of potential victims? Counter-terrorism officials call that the latest challenge with half the war now being fought on the battlefield of the media.