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Behind a New Principle for U.S. National Security

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- As a member of the president’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, whose report was released this week, I was struck by some close connections between debates over national security and debates over environmental protection. In both contexts, many people favor the Precautionary Principle, which can lead in unfortunate directions.

In environmental policy, the Precautionary Principle means we should take aggressive action to avoid risks, even if we don’t know that those risks will come to fruition. If the problem involves genetic modification of food or nuclear power, we should welcome precautions against potentially serious hazards, simply because it is prudent to be precautionary, and better to be safe than sorry.