A little bit of security theater will shut down in April as the Department of Homeland Security will end the color coded Homeland Security Advisory System. The terror alert has not changed from yellow in over four years, unless you are on an international flight. The system has been criticized immensely since its introduction. And don't forget the jokes. [more inside]
Is aviation security mostly for show? An essay by Bruce Schneier.
Making any jokes or statements during the screening process may be grounds for both criminal and civil penalties.
Private Mail--Not. ...Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal. ...the agency can, will and does open mail coming to U.S. citizens that originates from a foreign country whenever it’s deemed necessary. ...
Is your name James Moore? If so, you may be a terrorist. Or at least the NSA thinks so, having added that name -- which also happens to be the name of the author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential -- to its mysteriously targeted and infamously mismanaged "No-Fly" list [previously discussed here.]
Security, the TSA, and the No-Fly List You would think that our National Security apparatus would be like the TV series "24", with the most ingenious and sophisticated technology available. You would be wrong. Disclaimer: TSA is not an
intelligent intelligence agency.
Here's a blurb from the resume of the designer(Kenneth Mack) of the application the airline industry uses for *PDF* managing their employee data and the cross-checking them with the no-fly list:
- Sr. Developer: Developed a program [for Goddard Technologies] that uses the "No-Fly List" Excel spreadsheet, provided by the FAA and the database of badged employees to permute the name combinations. It takes into consideration multiple first and middle names, with Soundex and the various "initial" combinations. This program reduced the time for comparison from 3 days to 10 minutes.The scary yet interesting part of all of this is that the No-Fly List is nothing more than a password-protected spreadsheet (see this PDF). One would guess our Government's geeks would know that it's a bad idea to send email attachments containing social security numbers and dates of birth, unencrypted, over the internets, even if they might be terrorists.
Cat Stevens on NatSec watchlist. "A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said... Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. 'He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds,' Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday."
National Security Letters and John Doe --once only issued against suspected terrorists and spies, NSLs now can be used, thanks to the Patriot Act, against all and any of us. John Doe, the currently gagged owner of a small ISP was targeted for the political speech of his customers and is fighting, along with the ACLU and others. More here (and more inside)
D.H.S. - The Series. "... a multimillion-dollar episodic series, will explore the inner workings of the Department of Homeland Security, teaming the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and National Security Administration (NSA) together with "first responders" such as local police, fire and safety administrators." The series is being pitched to prospective networks today and has the full support of President Bush and Tom Ridge. "They love it. They think it is fantastic," say the series' producers at Steeple Productions, located in the Seventh-Day Adventist Community of Zillah, Washington. Not familiar with Steeple Productions? Well, perhaps you might find their four-episode "Creation Vs Evolution" series enlightening.
It's That Pesky Skin Color Thing Again. An Arab-American member of President Bush's security detail was denied passage on an American Airlines flight from Baltimore to Dallas Tuesday evening... "They didn't see an American, they didn't see a law enforcement professional. All they saw was a racial and ethnic profile that they didn't want on their flight." -- NY Times site.
bin Laden has a mentor?
Fear of flying? New security measures are being discussed. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta says, "These terrorist acts are designed to steal the confidence of Americans. We will restore that confidence."