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Links

iPad left at airport checkpoint ends up at TSA inspector’s house – Boing Boing

ABC News ran a sting against dirty TSA inspectors by leaving behind iPads (with tracking spyware) at ten airport checkpoints known for theft and following them electronically. One iPad, left at an Orlando checkpoint, moved 30 miles to the home of Andy Ramirez, a TSA inspector at the airport. Initially, he denied stealing the iPad, then he blamed his wife…Republicans have promised to fix this problem by firing the unionized federal workers and replacing them with private contractors. Because private contractors — not directly accountable to the government, insulated by layers of contractor/subcontractor relationships — would never, ever abuse their authority. Which is why mall security guards are the pinnacle of policing efficiency.

Via:
iPad left at airport checkpoint ends up at TSA inspector’s house – Boing Boing

Categories
politics

Your Digital Privacy and the US Govt Watchlist

Logorrhea
Logorrhea

I don’t know about you, but when the government acts stupidly like this, I don’t like it. The list of “forbidden” words is so ridiculously broad so as to be meaningless. I don’t deny there are evil people in the world, and I expect my government to protect me from these criminals as best as a government can, but this is not the way. Monitoring conversations that contain “pork”? or the word, “cloud”? Defeats the purpose by purposely bringing in lots of non-relevant data. 

By now you have likely seen reports that contain news of the list of terms the Department of Homeland Security searches for online, as it tracks what people are saying around the Internet. The list is extremely long, vague, and often quite humorous (even in the face of its importance).

As the Daily Mail notes, the Department of Homeland Security was forced to release the list, along with its entire Analyst’s Desktop Binder, following a Freedom of Information Act request. Essentially, the list is what the government is looking for online, hoping to spot threats, events, and other such things that would be of interest to the sprawling agency. The Mails report states that the Department has made the claim that the list is not used to search “the internet for disparaging remarks about the government [or] signs of general dissent.”

However, the list is worrisome all the same. The broadness of the terms that are being used as a starting point for tracking online communications is disconcerting; these are the words that could flag a person or conversation as potentially a threat to the United States. And thus, to have terms that come up in the daily news, and normal conversation, marked as worthy of tracking, is unsettling.

 Therefore, anyone in the media, period, doesn’t have the right to have their private information kept secret by the Department of Homeland Security. Woah. Scarier is how broad this is – anyone who uses social media to update others, and is merely ‘known’ as perhaps being a ‘reporter’ has no right to their PII being kept secret. In other words, if you are online, and comment on the news to an audience, you are essentially absolving the Department of Homeland Security from the need of redacting your private information, including “1) full name; 2) affiliation; 3) position or title; and 3) publicly-available user ID.”

I’m certainly not trying to be overly paranoid or tin-hatted, but the rules on how PII can be distributed for the above listed groups sounds quite like this: ‘if you fall into any of these categories, we are going to use any information about you that we can in any level of government, foreign or domestic.’ And that, if you are but an active user of social media that happens to be talking about an issue that is on their list of terms, you just may fall into the group. Now, to the list.

The following list of terms is directly taken from the Binder. Again, I had to strip them out, clean the text, and them format it, so please just take the list. Don’t do all that tedious work all over again. This post is for anyone. Educate people. Here you go:

The List


  • Assassination
  • Attack
  • Domestic security
  • Drill
  • Exercise
  • Cops
  • Law enforcement
  • Authorities
  • Disaster assistance
  • Disaster management
  • DNDO (Domestic Nuclear Detection Office)
  • National preparedness
  • Mitigation
  • Prevention
  • Response
  • Recovery
  • Dirty bomb
  • Domestic nuclear detection
  • Emergency management
  • Emergency response
  • First responder
  • Homeland security
  • Maritime domain awareness (MDA)
  • National preparedness initiative
  • Militia
  • Shooting
  • Shots fired
  • Evacuation
  • Deaths
  • Hostage
  • Explosion (explosive)
  • Police
  • Disaster medical assistance team (DMAT)
  • Organized crime
  • Gangs
  • National security
  • State of emergency
  • Security
  • Breach
  • Threat
  • Standoff
  • SWAT
  • Screening
  • Lockdown
  • Bomb (squad or threat)
  • Crash
  • Looting
  • Riot
  • Emergency Landing
  • Pipe bomb Incident Facility
  • Hazmat
  • Nuclear
  • Chemical spill
  • Suspicious package/device
  • Toxic National laboratory
  • Nuclear facility
  • Nuclear threat
  • Cloud
  • Plume
  • Radiation
  • Radioactive Leak
  • Biological infection (or event)
  • Chemical
  • Chemical burn
  • Biological Epidemic
  • Hazardous
  • Hazardous material incident
  • Industrial spill
  • Infection Powder (white)
  • Gas Spillover
  • Anthrax
  • Blister agent
  • Chemical agent
  • Exposure Burn
  • Nerve agent
  • Ricin
  • Sarin
  • North Korea
  • Outbreak
  • Contamination
  • Exposure
  • Virus
  • Evacuation
  • Bacteria
  • Recall
  • Ebola
  • Food Poisoning
  • Foot and Mouth (FMD)
  • H5N1
  • Avian Flu
  • Salmonella
  • Small Pox
  • Plague
  • Human to human
  • Human to Animal
  • Influenza
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Public Health
  • Toxic
  • Agro Terror
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Agriculture
  • Listeria
  • Symptoms
  • Mutation Resistant
  • Antiviral Wave
  • Pandemic
  • Infection
  • Water/air-borne
  • Sick
  • Swine
  • Pork
  • Strain
  • Quarantine
  • H1N1 Vaccine
  • Tamiflu
  • Norvo
  • Virus
  • Epidemic
  • World Health Organization (WHO) (and components)
  • Viral
  • Hemorrhagic
  • Fever
  • E. Coli
  • Infrastructure security
  • Airport
  • Airplane (and derivatives)
  • Chemical fire
  • CIKR (Critical Infrastructure& Key Resources)
  • AMTRAK
  • Collapse
  • Computer infrastructure
  • Communications infrastructure
  • Telecommunications
  • Critical infrastructure
  • National infrastructure
  • Metro
  • WMATA
  • Subway
  • BART
  • MARTA
  • Port Authority
  • NBIC (National Biosurveillance Integration Center)
  • Transportation security
  • Grid
  • Power
  • SmartBody scanner
  • Electric
  • Failure or outage
  • Black out
  • Brown out
  • Port
  • Dock
  • Bridge
  • Cancelled
  • Delays
  • Service disruption
  • Power lines
  • Drug cartel
  • Violence
  • Gang
  • Drug
  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Border
  • Mexico
  • Cartel
  • Southwest
  • Juarez
  • Sinaloa
  • Tijuana
  • Torreon
  • Yuma
  • Tucson
  • Decapitated
  • U.S. Consulate
  • Consular
  • El Paso
  • Fort Hancock
  • San Diego
  • Ciudad Juarez
  • Nogales
  • Sonora
  • Colombia
  • Mara salvatrucha
  • MS13 or MS-13
  • Drug war
  • Mexican army
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cartel de Golfo
  • Gulf Cartel
  • La Familia
  • Reynosa
  • Nuevo
  • Leon
  • Narcos
  • Narco banners (Spanish equivalents)
  • Los Zetas
  • Shootout
  • Execution
  • Gunfight
  • Trafficking
  • Kidnap
  • Calderon Reyosa
  • Bust
  • Tamaulipas
  • Meth Lab
  • Drug trade
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Smuggling (smugglers)
  • Matamoros
  • Michoacana
  • Guzman
  • Arellano-Felix
  • Beltran-Leyva
  • Barrio
  • Azteca
  • Artistic
  • Assassins
  • Mexicles
  • New Federation
  • Terrorism
  • Al Qaeda (all spellings)
  • Terror
  • Attack
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Pakistan
  • Agro
  • Environmental terrorist
  • Eco terrorism
  • Conventional weapon
  • Target
  • Weapons grade
  • Dirty bomb
  • Enriched
  • Nuclear
  • Chemical weapon
  • Biological weapon
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Improvised explosive device IED (Improvised Explosive Device)
  • Abu Sayyaf
  • Hamas
  • FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia)
  • IRA (Irish Republican Army)
  • ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)
  • Basque
  • Separatists
  • Hezbollah
  • Tamil Tigers
  • PLF (Palestine Liberation Front)
  • PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization)
  • Car bomb
  • Jihad
  • Taliban
  • Weapons cache
  • Suicide bomber
  • Suicide attack
  • Suspicious substance
  • AQAP (AL Qaeda Arabian Peninsula)
  • AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)
  • TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)
  • Yemen
  • Pirates
  • Extremism
  • Somalia
  • Nigeria
  • Radicals
  • Al-Shabaab
  • Home grown
  • Plot
  • Nationalist
  • Recruitment
  • Fundamentalism
  • Islamist
  • Emergency
  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Twister
  • Tsunami
  • Earthquake
  • Tremor
  • Flood
  • Storm
  • Crest
  • Temblor
  • Extreme weather
  • Forest fire
  • Brush fire
  • Ice
  • Stranded/Stuck
  • Help
  • Hail
  • Wildfire
  • Tsunami
  • Warning Center
  • Magnitude
  • Avalanche
  • Typhoon
  • Shelter-in-place
  • Disaster
  • Snow
  • Blizzard
  • Sleet
  • Mud slide or Mudslide
  • Erosion
  • Power outage
  • Brown out
  • Warning
  • Watch
  • Lightening
  • Aid
  • Relief
  • Closure
  • Interstate
  • Burst
  • Emergency Broadcast System
  • Cyber security
  • Botnet
  • DDOS (dedicated denial of service)
  • Denial of service
  • Malware
  • Virus
  • Trojan
  • Keylogger
  • Cyber
  • Command
  • 2600
  • Spammer
  • Phishing
  • Rootkit
  • Phreaking
  • Cain and abel
  • Brute forcing
  • Mysql injection
  • Cyber attack
  • Cyber terror
  • Hacker
  • China
  • Conficker
  • Worm
  • Scammers
  • Social media

 

(click here to continue reading Your Digital Privacy and the US Gov’s Watchlist.)

Categories
government Photography

ACLU sues Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

No Photos - Gentlemen Please Remove Your Hats
No Photos – Gentlemen Please Remove Your Hats

Photography is not a crime, part the 234,642nd. Kudos to the ACLU…

The ACLU of Southern California sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and several of its deputies Thursday alleging they harassed, detained and improperly searched photographers taking pictures legally in public places.

The federal lawsuit alleges the Sheriff’s Department and deputies “have repeatedly” subjected photographers “to detention, search and interrogation simply because they took pictures” from public streets of places such as Metro turnstiles, oil refineries or near a Long Beach courthouse.

“Photography is not a crime. It’s protected 1st Amendment expression,” said Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “It violates the Constitution’s core protections for sheriff’s deputies to detain and search people who are doing nothing wrong. To single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong.”

(click here to continue reading ACLU sues Sheriff’s Department, alleges photographers were harassed – latimes.com.)

Photography is Not A Crime
Photography is Not A Crime

and from the ACLU:

The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) and the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP today sued the County of Los Angeles and individual Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies for detaining and searching photographers. The incidents of harassment occurred when photographers were taking pictures in public places where photography is not prohibited.

“Photography is not a crime. It’s protected First Amendment expression,” said Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney at the ACLU/SC. “Sheriff’s deputies violate the Constitution’s core protections when they detain and search people who are doing nothing wrong. To single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong.”

The complaint is filed on behalf of three plaintiffs, who between them have been detained or ordered not to photograph by Sheriff’s deputies on at least six occasions. The complaint details similar incidents involving others, from amateur photographers to veteran photojournalists.

(click here to continue reading ACLU/SC Challenges Sheriff’s Dept.’s Detention of Photographers.)

Categories
politics

War Criminals without Conscience

Damn it, these assholes need to serve time for the war criminals they are. Bush, Cheney Rumsfeld and all their minions of doom, ensuring that several generations of Iraqis and Afghanis and Muslims hate the US, and by proxy, all Americans.

Haymarket Riot Memorial

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.

… Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.

He also claimed that one reason Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]”.

Referring to Mr Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent … If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”

He alleged that for Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld “innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader War on Terror and the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks”.

[Click to continue reading George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent’ – Times Online ]

These Bushites have no conscience, no remorse, they should stand trial at The Hague. All they cared about was winning elections, and raping and pillaging the world was just incidental damage to them.

Categories
politics

Bush team and David Headley

If you ask me, another sign of Bush Administration incompetence. What the frack was the TSA doing in all these years? If my luggage got searched over a dozen times, and I was set aside for special screening nearly as frequently, how come David Hadley didn’t get the same attention? Either he did, and the TSA was too incompetent to notice he was a person of interest or he didn’t, which defeats the whole purpose of screening passengers at O’Hare. Right?

Do All Photographers Need a Warrant?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An American charged with helping plan the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, moved effortlessly between the United States, Pakistan and India for nearly seven years, training at a militant camp in Pakistan on five occasions, according to a plea agreement released by the Justice Department last week.
Related

The odyssey of David C. Headley, 49, included scouting targets in several cities in India and meeting with a senior operative of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These and other new details of Mr. Headley’s activities, contained in the plea agreement, raise troubling questions about how an American citizen could travel for so long undetected from his home base in Chicago to well-established terrorist training camps in Pakistan.

[Click to continue reading American Terror Suspect Traveled Unimpeded – NYTimes.com]

Not until Obama’s people took office did authorities even bother to track Headley:

The visit in February 2009 may finally have put Mr. Headley on the radar of the American authorities, who started tracking him in the late spring of last year, Mr. Riedel said. Mr. Kashmiri is considered to be one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous commanders. The Long War Journal, a Web site that specializes in reports on militancy, says he is a former member of Pakistan’s elite commando Special Services Group, though Pakistani intelligence officials deny that. He was the target of a drone attack last September. After initial reports that he was killed, it appears that he survived, according to Pakistani officials and militants.

I know the ineffectualness of the Bush appointees is a bit of a cliché, but come on. Yellow alerts? Remove your shoes? What was the point exactly? Oh yeah, keeping ‘Murica safe.

Categories
politics

A curious whitewashing history of the CIA


“Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack” (Marc A. Thiessen)

Marc Thiessen, a liar? Really? Would have never guessed that someone as obnoxiously a Bush sycophant and bully as Marc Thiessen would also have trouble with truth1

Jane Mayer reads Thiessen’s “book” so we don’t have to bother

Thiessen’s book, whose subtitle is “How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack,” offers a relentless defense of the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies, which, according to many critics, sanctioned torture and yielded no appreciable intelligence benefit. In addition, Thiessen attacks the Obama Administration for having banned techniques such as waterboarding. “Americans could die as a result,” he writes.

Yet Thiessen is better at conveying fear than at relaying the facts. His account of the foiled Heathrow plot, for example, is “completely and utterly wrong,” according to Peter Clarke, who was the head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism branch in 2006. “The deduction that what was being planned was an attack against airliners was entirely based upon intelligence gathered in the U.K.,” Clarke said, adding that Thiessen’s “version of events is simply not recognized by those who were intimately involved in the airlines investigation in 2006.” Nor did Scotland Yard need to be told about the perils of terrorists using liquid explosives. The bombers who attacked London’s public-transportation system in 2005, Clarke pointed out, “used exactly the same materials.”

Thiessen’s claim about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed looks equally shaky. The Bush interrogation program hardly discovered the Philippine airlines plot: in 1995, police in Manila stopped it from proceeding and, later, confiscated a computer filled with incriminating details. By 2003, when Mohammed was detained, hundreds of news reports about the plot had been published. If Mohammed provided the C.I.A. with critical new clues—details unknown to the Philippine police, or anyone else—Thiessen doesn’t supply the evidence.

Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert who is writing a history of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror,” told me that the Heathrow plot “was disrupted by a combination of British intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, and Scotland Yard.” He noted that authorities in London had “literally wired the suspects’ bomb factory for sound and video.” It was “a classic law-enforcement and intelligence success,” Bergen said, and “had nothing to do with waterboarding or with Guantánamo detainees.”

[Click to continue reading A curious history of the C.I.A. : The New Yorker]

Torture doesn’t work, in other words, despite what such Republican propaganda as the Fox television drama 24 would have you believe. Smart people in the intelligence community already know this, only sadists like Dick Cheney and Marc Thiessen cling to their guns and iron maidens.

Entrance optional

Well worth reading the entire book report, you’ll probably learn a thing or two that Mr. Thiessen would rather you not know.

Footnotes:
  1. sarcasm, if you can’t hear my tone of voice over the internet tubes []
Categories
News-esque

Afghans Detainees Anger Persists

I’m with Commander Dawood Zazai, actually, I wouldn’t sign a false confession either.

Everyone was mumbling

As an Afghan general read the document aloud, Cmdr. Dawood Zazai, a towering Pashtun tribal leader from Paktia Province who fought the Soviets, thumped his crutch for attention. Along with other elders, he did not like a clause in the document that said the detainees had been reasonably held based on intelligence.

“I cannot sign this,” Commander Zazai said, thumping his crutch again. “I don’t know what that intelligence said; we did not see that intelligence. It is right that we are illiterate, but we are not blind.

“Who proved that these men were guilty?”

No one answered because Commander Zazai had just touched on the crux of the legal debate that has raged for nearly a decade in the United States: Does the United States have the legal right to hold, indefinitely without charge or trial, people captured on the battlefield? His question also exposed a fundamental disagreement between the Afghans and the American military about whether people had been fairly detained.

This is the latest chapter in America’s tortuous effort to repair the damage done over the last nine years by a troubled, overcrowded detention system that often produced more insurgents rather than reforming them.

[Click to continue reading U.S. Frees Detainees, but Afghans’ Anger Persists – NYTimes.com]

The Bush people just thought to lock everyone up first and sort it out later, while play-acting on the stage of Terrorism Theatre, but that isn’t the way the US is supposed to act. Rule of law, remember that? Not rule of gun and coercion. Donald Rumsfeld should be exported to the Pashtun region, and forced to stand trial for his war crimes.

Categories
News-esque

FBI Bumbles Anthrax case to a close

Incompetence is what this sounds like to me. Dick Cheney probably ordered the anthrax attacks.

Recovery.gov

More than eight years after anthrax-laced letters killed five people and terrorized the country, the F.B.I. on Friday closed its investigation, adding eerie new details to its case that the 2001 attacks were carried out by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army biodefense expert who killed himself in 2008.

[Click to continue reading F.B.I. Concludes Investigation in Fatal Anthrax Mailings – NYTimes.com]

Didn’t solve anything, didn’t discover the truth. The eerie new details probably wouldn’t stand up in open court, and Ivins is dead anyway, and cannot defend himself.

Categories
politics

Overloaded Intelligence Gathering Leads to Poor Intelligence

Too much data, indiscriminately accumulated, is just as much a problem as too little intelligence data, if not worse. Remember when we were America, land of the Free?

Do All Photographers Need a Warrant?

It has been demonstrated that when officials must establish before a court that they have reason to intercept communications — that is, that they know what they are doing — we get better intelligence than through indiscriminate collection and fishing expeditions.
[Rush Holt]

The failure of the U.S. Government to detect the fairly glaring Northwest Airlines Christmas plot — despite years and years of constant expansions of Surveillance State powers — illustrates this dynamic perfectly. As President Obama said [Janurary 5th, 2010], the Government — just as was true for 9/11 — had gathered more than enough information to have detected this plot, or at least to have kept Abdulmutallab off airplanes and out of the country. Yet our intelligence agencies — just as was true for 9/11 — failed to understand what they had in their possession. Why is that?  Because they had too much to process, including too much data wholly unrelated to Terrorism. In other words, our panic-driven need to vest the Government with more and more surveillance power every time we get scared again by Terrorists — in the name of keeping us safe — has exactly the opposite effect. Numerous pieces of evidence prove that.

Today in The Washington Post, that paper’s CIA spokesman, David Ignatius, explains that Abdulmutallab never made it onto a no-fly list because there are simply too many reports of suspicious individuals being submitted on a daily basis, which causes the system to be “clogged” — overloaded — with information having nothing to do with Terrorism. As a result, actually relevant information ends up obscured or ignored.  Identically, Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball report that U.S. intelligence agencies intercept, gather and store so many emails, recorded telephone calls, and other communications that it’s simply impossible to sort through or understand what they have, quite possibly causing them to have missed crucial evidence in their possession about both the Fort Hood and Abdulmutallab plots:

This deluge of Internet traffic — involving e-mailers whose true identity often is not apparent — is one indication of the volume of raw intelligence U.S. spy agencies have had to sort through as they have tried to assess Awlaki’s influence in the West and elsewhere, said the officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information. The large volume of messages also may help to explain how agencies can become so overwhelmed with data that sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible, to connect potentially important dots.

Newsweek adds that intelligence agencies likely possessed emails between accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — as well as recorded telephone calls between al-Awlaki and Abdulmutallab — but simply failed to analyze or understand what they had intercepted.

[Click to continue reading Glenn Greenwald – Backfiring of the Surveillance State : Salon.com]

Pretty pathetic. And the solution is simple: start being much more targeted with information collection so there is less noise and more actionable signal. Allowing 8 year old kids like Mike Hicks to remain on the No-Fly List for seven years is just idiotic

Mikey, who would rather talk about BMX bikes and his athletic trophies than airport security, remains perplexed about the “list” and the hurdles he must clear. “Why do they think a kid is a terrorist?” Mikey asked his mother at one point during the interview.

Mrs. Hicks said the family was amused by the mistake at first. But that amusement quickly turned to annoyance and anger. It should not take seven years to correct the problem, Mrs. Hicks said. She applied for redress in December when she first heard about the Department of Homeland Security’s program.

“I understand the need for security,” she added. “But this is ridiculous. It’s quite clear that he is 8 years old, and while he may have terroristic tendencies at home, he does not have those on a plane.”

[Click to continue reading Mikey Hicks, 8, Can’t Get Off U.S. Terror Watch List – NYTimes.com]

and he’s not alone

For every person on the lists, hundreds of others may get caught up simply because they share the same name; a quick scan through a national phone directory unearthed 1,600 Michael Hickses. Over the past three years, 81,793 frustrated travelers have formally asked that they be struck from the watch list through the Department of Homeland Security; more than 25,000 of their cases are still pending. Others have taken more drastic measures. Mario Labbé, a frequent-flying Canadian record-company executive, started having problems at airports shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, with lengthy delays at checkpoints and mysterious questions about Japan. By 2005, he stopped flying to the United States from Canada, instead meeting American clients in France. Then a forced rerouting to Miami in 2008 led to six hours of questions.

“What’s the name of your mother? Your father? When were you last in Japan?” Mr. Labbé recalled being asked. “Always the same questions in different order. And sometimes, it’s quite aggressive, not funny at all.” Fed up, in the summer of 2008, he changed his name to François Mario Labbé. The problem vanished.

Boy, that makes me feel so much safer – just change your name, and voila, no problems!

Continuous Video Recording in Progress

The mind-set doesn’t appear to be ending soon, if Massachusetts Police policy is any indication:

A report from the New England Center For Investigative Reporting has chronicled a pattern of what civil liberties advocates say is a misuse of police powers: Massachusetts police are using the state’s stringent surveillance laws to arrest and charge people who record police activities in public.

It’s a situation that is pitting new technologies against police powers. With recording equipment now embedded into cellphones and other common technologies, recording police activities has never been easier, and has resulted in numerous cases of police misconduct being brought to light. And that, rights advocates argue, is precisely what the police are trying to prevent.

In October, 2007, Boston lawyer Simon Glick witnessed what he said was excessive use of police force during the arrest of a juvenile. When he pulled out his cellphone to record the incident, he was arrested and charged with “illegal electronic surveillance.”

In December, 2008, Jon Surmacz, a webmaster at Boston University, was attending a party that was brok

[Click to continue reading Massachusetts cops can arrest you for making them famous | Raw Story]

Even the Chicago Transit Authority is getting into the action

The Chicago Transit Authority is so “committed to safety,” that it is urging commuters to report people committing “excessive photography/filming.”

The sign posted inside the train stations places photographers on the same level as, say, a non-CTA employee walking the tracks or an unattended package or “noxious smells or smoke.”

In other words, it accuses photographers of being possible terrorists or just suicidal maniacs.

The problem is that these signs not only encourage commuters to dial 911 when seeing someone taking photos, which will tie up real emergencies, it contradicts the CTA’s own policy on photography and videography within train stations.

[Click to continue reading Chicago Transit Authority urges commuters to report photographers | Photography is Not a Crime]

More data, more clutter in the system for intelligence to sort out, or the already overloaded judicial system, and for what reason? We need a change in direction, and soon.

Categories
government

A Wakeup Call and 9-11 is a Joke

Flight 1053

Well, one could hope it is. Patrick Smith of Salon.com has a few points to make about terrorism theatre…

For example, how is it that our sworn protectors manage to spend tens of billions of dollars each year, yet failed to stop an extremist saboteur whose own father had contacted officials to alert them to his son’s behavior and potential violence?

Well, it’s partly because the government’s list of known or suspected terrorists — the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE — contains more than half a million names. Abdulmutallab himself had been added to this list, but at a certain point a database this vast and unwieldy does more harm than good.

And although he’d been added to TIDE, Abdulmutallab had not been placed on any active watch lists or the so-called no-fly list — a failure of government intelligence sharing eerily reminiscent of the FBI-CIA disconnect that helped facilitate the 9/11 plot.

Here we are at a point where innocent preschoolers or entertainers (Cat Stevens) are denied boarding because of confusion over names, but somebody like Abdulmutallab steps onto a plane with no trouble. Our overzealous obsession with terrorism, together with bureaucratic bungling, has, predictably, bit us in the rear end.

Speaking of predictable, down on the front lines, our beleaguered Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rushed to action. The agency’s first mandate was a nonsensical and short-lived requirement that all passengers on flights over U.S. soil remain seated for the final hour of flight, with no personal belongings (personal computers, etc.) in their laps or on tray tables. The thinking here was difficult to fathom. Presumably a bomber can only act while standing up? And presumably he would call off the attack if he had to detonate, say, 70 minutes from landing instead of 60, or out over the ocean? Funny, I remember Pan Am 103 exploding in the first hour of flight, not the last.

[Click to continue reading Ask the Pilot – Salon.com]

Does the TSA do more harm than good? Is the agency’s existence just to feather the nest of security consultants and corporations such as Chertoff’s good buddy, Rapiscan?

Since the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports.

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. The relationship drew attention after Chertoff disclosed it on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

[Click to continue reading Ex-Homeland Security chief head said to abuse public trust by touting body scanners – washingtonpost.com]

Especially since jerk-store politicians like Rudy 9-11 Giuliani deny that any acts of terrorism even happened when a Republican was in the Presidency! Rudy G must actually believe that 9-11 is a joke in his town.

Rudy Giuliani on one of the morning shows today:

On “Good Morning America” Friday, the former New York mayor declared, “We had no domestic attacks under Bush; we’ve had one under Obama.”

Hmmm. He didn’t misspeak, I don’t think. It’s likely quite intentional. It’s entirely of a piece with the the whole “we kept America safe” line that Cheney and others were trumpeting as the Bushies left office, trying to think of one positive thing they could say about an administration that ruined the country in most important respects.

The idea being implanted here is that 9-11 somehow didn’t count; that it was some kind of gimme. Because it was first, and it was a surprise, and unexpected. But as we know there were plenty of warnings, and plenty of signs that were ignored. The argument takes cynical advantage of the fact that flying planes into buildings was a complete shock to your average person. But it was not a shock to the people who are paid to think about these things.

It’s quite remarkable the success this line has enjoyed, though. You’ll see a fair number of pundits on TV and the like nodding in earnest assent that the Bush administration “kept us safe after 9-11” as if 9-11 was a freebie.

[Click to continue reading 9-11 Doesn’t Count | Michael Tomasky | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk ]

Categories
Links Music

Reading Around on January 5th through January 8th

A few interesting links collected January 5th through January 8th:

  • Letters of Note: Art is useless because… – Included in the preface to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is the now famous and often misconstrued line, ‘All art is quite useless’. In fact, following the novel’s original publication in 1890, Oxford undergraduate Bernulf Clegg was so intrigued by the claim that he wrote to Wilde and asked him to elaborate. The following handwritten letter was Wilde’s response.
  • The Airport Scanner Scam | Mother Jones – Beyond privacy issues, however, are questions about whether these machines really work—and about who stands to benefit most from their use. When it comes to high-tech screening methods, the TSA has a dismal record of enriching private corporations with failed technologies, and there are signs that the latest miracle device may just bring more of the same.
  • Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People
  • Buddyhead’s Best and Worst Records Of 2009 | BUDDYHEAD – Animal Collective – “Merriweather Post Pavilion”Lazy music journalists tried to act like these nerds armed with bongos and delay pedals were the second coming of The Beatles or some shit. Everyone from Mojo to Rolling Stone to Pitchdork seemed to have these fruitcakes somewhere in their top five records for 2009. These dudes couldn’t write a song if their lives depended on it, they are to songwriting what “Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” is to cinema.

Robot and Mary Anne

Categories
Links

Reading Around on December 29th

Some additional reading December 29th from 17:09 to 23:39:


“The Philip K. Dick Collection” (Philip K. Dick)

  • Gregg Rickman- The Nature of Dick’s Fantasies – –None of Dick’s 1974 letters to the FBI appear in any of the FBI’s files on him (in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington). He received a polite brush-off response to his first letter, of March 20; it is likely that the FBI ignored his later letters entirely.–There is, moreover, good reason to doubt that many of these letters were ever sent. According to his wife at the time, Tessa Dick, “Phil told me he’d only sent the first three or four letters, and he stopped mailing them, because the FBI had lost interest (or perhaps never had any interest) in the case…” (letter to author, 6/6/91). Asked why, if this were so, so many letters existed not in originals but in carbons, she replied that Dick’s procedure was to “write a letter, address and stamp an envelope, go out in the back alley, and drop the letter in the trash bin.” Dick’s reasoning was that “The authorities will receive the letter if, and only if, they are spying on him”
  • Total Dick-Head: Merry Christmas To Me! – As a scholar I think these letters are a bit dangerous (as is any piece of evidence however small and seemingly innocuous in the Case of Philip K Dick); as they are the ‘Selected Letters’ I wonder who selected them (that’s probably in an introduction I skipped), what was left out, and why. I have lots of questions, like why does Phil refer to Tessa in one letter as Leslie? Who exactly is ‘Kathy’? And why in the world did PKD write that letter to the FBI about Disch’s Camp Concentration?
  • Transcript: Climbing Mount Criterion – Roger Ebert’s Journal – I’m extremely lazy in my film reviews, but Matthew Dessem is not. His blog is in-depth reviews of every Criterion Collection film released. Roger Ebert interviewed him: Here is the complete transcript of my Q&A with Matthew Dessum, in which he goes into much greater detail about his adventure that I had room for in the paper. The photo is by Yasmin Damshenas
  • Is aviation security mostly for show? – CNN.com – “Security theater” refers to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security. An example: the photo ID checks that have sprung up in office buildings. No one has ever explained why verifying that someone has a photo ID provides any actual security, but it looks like security to have a uniformed guard-for-hire looking at ID cards. Airport-security examples include the National Guard troops stationed at U.S. airports in the months after 9/11 — their guns had no bullets. The U.S. color-coded system of threat levels, the pervasive harassment of photographers, and the metal detectors that are increasingly common in hotels and office buildings since the Mumbai terrorist attacks, are additional examples.
Categories
Links politics

Reading Around on December 6th through December 7th

A few interesting links collected December 6th through December 7th:

  • “Do I have the right to refuse this search?” | Homeland Security Watch – TSA Terrorism Theater is a Joke, and not the 911 kind1 “Within the last few months, I have been singled out for “additional screening” roughly half the time I step into an airport security line. On Friday, October 9, as I stepped out of the full-body scanning device at BWI, I decided I needed more information to identify why it is that I have become such an appealing candidate for secondary screening.

    Little did I know this would be only the first of many questions I now have regarding my airport experiences.

    Over these last few months, I have grown increasingly frustrated with what I view as an unjustifiable intrusion on my privacy. It was not so much the search (then) as it was the embarrassment of being singled out, effectively being told “You are different,” but getting no explanation as to why.”

  • Mark the Spot: Tell AT&T where the iPhone sucks – Well now there is an electronic version of that crosswalk button for me to push whenever my signal degrades. This app, free in the App Store lets you pinpoint your location when the call was dropped. Expect a good constellation of points around my house
  • Oxford American – The Southern Magazine of Good Writing :: Ode to a Pecan Pie – The pecan pie has been on the Brigtsen’s menu for all twenty-three years of the restaurant’s history. It is evidence of Brigtsen’s broader philosophy.

    “I wanted it to be just that: a classic Southern dessert. I am not out to change the world with my food. I am not out to reinvent the wheel. I’m only here to make people happy. And whatever it takes to do that is my goal. I also believe that just because something is one hundred years old or twenty-three years old doesn’t mean it isn’t good anymore.”

Footnotes:
  1. or the 9/11 kind []
Categories
politics

Terrorism Theater Cost Chicago 2016 Bid

Nobody will exactly say this was the one thing, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit that the out-of-control US airline security theater was a large factor in the decision to award Rio with the 2016 Games.

Poor Boy Long Way from Home

Did Chicago lose the chance to host the 2016 Olympics because of airport security issues?

Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”

[Click to continue reading Chicago’s Loss: Is Passport Control to Blame? – In Transit Blog – NYTimes.com]

and some noticed:

Once the news came out that Chicago lost its Olympic bid, the U.S. Travel Association didn’t miss an opportunity to point that out, sending out a critical press release within hours.

“It’s clear the United States still has a lot of work to do to restore its place as a premier travel destination,” Roger Dow, U.S. Travel’s president, said in the statement released today. “When IOC members are commenting to our President that foreign visitors find traveling to the United States a ‘pretty harrowing experience,’ we need to take seriously the challenge of reforming our entry process to ensure there is a welcome mat to our friends around the world, even as we ensure a secure system.”

That might help, but a bigger problem is the Bush Administration’s ridiculous terrorism theater policies, still in place.

Categories
government

Judge Rejects a Key Tactic in Terror Cases

Welcome news, some small steps back towards democracy and away from the Bush years and terrorism theatre.

In a ruling that threw into doubt one of the government’s main counterterrorism tools, a federal judge said the Treasury Department acted unconstitutionally three years ago when it froze the assets of an Ohio charity suspected of aiding terrorists.

The ruling challenged a key tactic used by the government under an emergency executive order signed by President George W. Bush two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. If upheld, the ruling could severely undercut the government’s authority and ultimately require it to get a warrant and submit to court review in moving against charities.

In the last eight years, the Treasury Department has used its broadened authority to freeze tens of millions of dollars in assets held by eight charities within the United States and hundreds of other groups and individuals outside this country, all without warrants and court approval.

[Click to continue reading Judge Rejects a Key Tactic in Terror Cases – NYTimes.com]

Meteors Hanging in the Gloom

The government should be required to follow all the rules and laws of due process, just like everyone else. Otherwise, we just live in a Constitutional Monarchy. The Fourth Amendment has been around for a while for good reason – remember the British?

A brief refresher of the text and meaning of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In Colonial America, legislation was explicitly written to enforce English revenue gathering policies on customs Until 1750, all handbooks for justices of the peace, the issuers of warrants, contained or described only general warrants. William Cuddihy, Ph.D. in his dissertation entitled The Fourth Amendment: Origins and Original Meaning, claims there existed a “colonial epidemic of general searches.” According to him, until the 1760s, a “man’s house was even less of a legal castle in America than in England” as the authorities possessed almost unlimited power and little oversight.

In 1756, the colony of Massachusetts enacted legislation that barred the use of general warrants. This represented the first law in American history curtailing the use of seizure power. Its creation largely stemmed from the great public outcry over the Excise Act of 1754, which gave tax collectors unlimited powers to interrogate colonists concerning their use of goods subject to customs and permitted the use of a general warrant known as a writ of assistance, allowing them to search the homes of colonists and seize “prohibited and uncustomed” goods.

A crisis erupted over the writs of assistance on December 27, 1760 when the news of King George II’s October 23 death arrived in Boston. All writs automatically expired six months after the death of the King and would have had to be re-issued under the name of the new King, George III, in order to remain valid.

In mid-January 1761, a group of over 50 merchants represented by James Otis, petitioned the court to have hearings on the issue. During the five hour hearing on February 23, 1761, Otis vehemently denounced English colonial policies, including their sanction of general warrants and writs of assistance. However, the court ruled against Otis. Because of the name he had made for himself in attacking the writs, he was elected to the Massachusetts General Assembly and helped pass legislation requiring that special writs of assistance be “granted by any judge or justice of the peace upon information under oath by any officer of the customs” and barring all other writs. The governor overturned the legislation, finding it contrary to British law and parliamentary sovereignty. John Adams, who was present in the courtroom when Otis spoke, viewed these events “as the spark in which originated the American Revolution.” Seeing the danger general warrants presented, the Virginia Declaration of Rights explicitly forbade the use of general warrants. This prohibition became precedent for the Fourth Amendment:

That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted

[Click to continue reading Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Eric Lichtblau adds:

[Judge Thomas Carr ]rejected the Justice Department’s contention that the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, did not apply to groups suspected of foreign terrorist ties because of the president’s separate national security authority.

Citing British seizures and searches without warrants in colonial America, Judge Carr called the Fourth Amendment “a bulwark against the abuses and excesses of unchecked government authority.”

He said that “nothing in our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence or constitutional tradition supports complete elimination” of the need for the government to establish probable cause, allow judicial review and use court warrants in such cases.

Judge Carr also said that the limited information that the Treasury Department provided to the charity about why its assets were frozen came only after “long, unexplained and inexplicable delay” and repeated requests from the group’s lawyers.