Showing posts with label Security. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Security. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Ottawa is under attack:

The Canadian government has informed the United States that one shooter is dead in Ottawa, a senior U.S. official said. So far, there is "no indication the shooter has ties to violent Islamic extremism," but it is still extremely early in the investigation, the source said.

In response to the ongoing situation at Canada's Parliament, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has increased its alert posture, CNN has learned. That means that it has increased the number of planes on a higher alert status ready to respond if needed. NORAD and Canadian authorities are in contact, an official told CNN.

Never underestimate America's ability to panic and make something worse than it is. The media will go nuts with this until the facts are in. If this is domestic Canadian terrorism, the American opportunists will use this to attack President Obama. It is entirely possible that this attack on Canadian soil will be viewed as an attempt to attack America and panic will take hold in places like New York City or Chicago and you'll see armed men everywhere in response to absolutely no threat whatsoever. This will be done because to be seen doing nothing is politically untenable.

One disaffected loner with a grudge against women can trigger a massive counter-terrorism response. We don't know if there actually are multiple shooters or if this is a Mumbai-styled attack. We don't know anything, other than the fact that this will be "Obama's Katrina."

And no, none of this is supposed to make any sense. Fear is the only partisan tool the Republican Party is eager to use on a regular basis.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Armed and Armed Some More

The militarization of the police continues unabated:

During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.”

What was high satire thirty years ago with Lt. Hunter getting a tank to use against criminals on Hill Street Blues has become commonplace reality for podunk police departments all across the land. At some point, the police will be as well armed as any military unit. At some point, we will not see police but a de facto military presence everywhere and we're seeing it more and more. There's no rolling back on this--once you give the police military equipment, you have to keep giving it to them because that's what they will train with and that's what they will respond with. 

Guns drawn while carrying out raids on establishments that are barbering without a license? What the hell is that but a complete and utter militarization of the police gone horribly wrong. Policing is about a measured response to crime that serves the needs of the community. Body armor is something I completely understand but tanks and drones and SWAT teams converging on permit violators? Come on.

Camouflage, by the way? Really? I thought you had to announce the presence of law enforcement. I thought that a police officer had to identify themselves. Apparently not if they're wearing military grade camouflage.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Edward Snowden's Delusions of Adequacy

The fact that runs counter to everything that has been said about Edward Snowden is this one--he's not dead. No one has assassinated him. No one has shot him behind the ear. No one has given him poison. He's alive and flush with cash, somewhere in Mother Russia.

Secretary of State Kerry is absolutely right--Snowden should "man up" and face American justice. If his contention is that the American people need to know what their government is doing, his efforts should include making everything about the rule of law and not simply about the leaking and bragging he has done so far.

The problem is, Snowden knows that he likely stole military secrets and gave them to foreign governments in exchange for money, access, or security. He knows he successfully conned others into believing he actually cared about privacy because that is the veil he decided to hide behind. But his most recent interview betrays all of that--he was someone who wanted to BE SOMEONE rather than just do something. He has inflated his resume in order to improve his standing with his foreign handlers. That's what megalomaniacs prefer, especially on their Twitter feeds.

Clearly, there have been doubts as to his ability. Deception? Sure. He is very good at lying to people. Everything else? Not so much for this systems administrator gone rogue. It is quite common for people to travel under some kind of cover or with some measure of identity protection when they work for the United States government. That's not spying. That's force protection.

Snowden remains the greatest fraud of the decade so far.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who is Running the Secret Service?

I mean, what the hell?

Three Secret Service agents on President Obama's Amsterdam trip were sent home after they partied so hard Saturday that one agent ended up passed out drunk in a hotel hallway.

Unlike a certain Cartagena trip, the misconduct here appears to be technical—Secret Service regulations say that agents on official trips are prohibited from drinking alcohol within 10 hours of duty. Although Obama didn't arrive in the Netherlands until Monday, the agents violated the rule drinking late Saturday night because they had a classified briefing on Sunday.

Standards are really that low, huh?

Well, these elite young agents can now find jobs elsewhere. If everything that happened in Colombia didn't wake them up to the consequences of losing their mud in public while on foreign security details, what could possibly do the trick?

I have no way of knowing if they went to Bananenbar, but it would be a shame if they didn't get to go there before being out of work and being forced to revise their resumes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rand Paul Forgot He Was a Republican

Senator Rand Paul is running for president as an alternative to the tired old bags of wind who have spent their careers pretending to be outraged by things no one cares about. He represents the segment of the population that twists in the wind and follows all of the latest fads.

You won't read anything more naive than this:

We are told that these intrusive and unconstitutional measures are necessary to protect us from the forces of international terrorism. We are told that a surrender of our privacy rights is a small price to pay for the knowledge that we can sleep safe and secure in our beds.

We reject this premise. We are committed to a safe America, but we do not accept the notion that a surveillance state is necessary to safeguard the lives and liberty of American citizens.

These assurances of the necessity to give up a little privacy for the sake of safety are made all the less convincing by the fact that, after more than seven years, the NSA has been unable to provide any evidence that the collection of telephone metadata from Americans has led to the prevention of even a single terrorist attack.

There can be no justification for the preservation of a domestic surveillance program that has utterly failed in its stated goals.

The stated goal was to protect America, and, for the last seven years, the "homeland" has been protected quite well, thank you very much. Paul knows exactly why he has to identify with that "seven" year benchmark  (Obama! Benghazi! Republican Primary Voters!) because we're really talking about a thirteen year program and not the Obama Administration alone. It was September 11, 2001 that stampeded the country towards surveillance but, really, we have been subjected to far more surveillance from the commercial world than the government world. It was due entirely to the futile efforts of Senator Russ Feingold that there even was limited scrutiny of the Patriot Act (Feingold was rewarded with electoral defeat, thank you very much), and there was virtually no fuss when the act was renewed.

Democrats who questioned the Patriot Act or the war with Iraq had their patriotism questioned again and again. Rand Paul benefits from the fact that he has virtually no Congressional record and he revels in that fact. On the big questions, he has nothing that drags him down. He does have a desire to be President. The problem is, if he was the President, he'd realize that the law is controlled by Congress and that the Executive has to defend America and accept blame for everything that happens without being able to adapt and adjust to the lawlessness of our enemies.

Paul wants you, the American people, to hate Obama for all of the surveillance that's been going on. In this effort, he aligns himself with the privacy radicals who want the focus to be on the government and not on the private companies that routinely violate the privacy of Americans for commercial gain. He simply cannot accept the idea that the Congress writes the laws and that this Congress is too dysfunctional to pass laws that will safeguard the privacy of the American people. The lack of adequate Congressional oversight caused this problem but you'll never hear that spoken out loud--they need to look at everyone who conducts surveillance, up to and including the very platform on which this is published.

You are far more likely to have your privacy abused by a traffic cop than anyone who works in the U.S. intelligence community.

Intelligence gathering is about social relationships and analyzing the importance and relevance of what is found. This is done by combining as many different disciplines as possible. We routinely take photographs of large areas of the world. Who is complaining about the voluminous amount of imagery captured every moment of every day? If your complaint is about how we are caught up in cell phone metadata collection, why are you silent about the fact that you are inevitably photographed from above when you travel overseas? Privacy extends to being free from all forms of surveillance, not just telecommunications.

Privacy advocates are eager to condemn the easiest thing in the world--no one wants to be faced with the fact that their phone has been tapped and now someone knows how stupid/racist/boring they are in real life. They don't rail against video surveillance; they don't complain about the GPS chip in their phone or the incredibly complex financial surveillance being carried out by credit card companies that track and analyze every single purchase. This is disguised as fraud prevention, but doubles as marketing research. It's impossible for a person to drive through any major American city without being tracked by speed cameras, traffic flow cameras, or security cameras.

To me, it's just another thing where people need to grow up. The only real threat that exists is if someone in law enforcement were to use surveillance information to abuse their power. We do not have anywhere near enough oversight of law enforcement because we don't have a functioning Congress. You are far more likely to have your privacy abused by a traffic cop than anyone who works in the U.S. intelligence community. A traffic cop has to meet a quota and that's why they'll harass you and prevail. An intelligence analyst has to produce a product based on whatever mission they're assigned; if they don't produce, they won't get promoted. No one is going to advance their career by writing reports about Joe Blow in Ohio and his endlessly self-absorbed conversations about why he needs a better girlfriend and a newer phone. I hate to break it to you, but you're boring; we're all boring unless we're part of an organization that is structured in such a way as to facilitate an attack on American interests.

Rand Paul wants to score points but he will develop institutional amnesia if it ever comes to pass that his Congressional efforts have thwarted the intelligence gathering apparatus of this country. If his rhetoric goes against conventional wisdom, he'll rely on the useless media establishment to help him paper over being on the wrong side of history.

Paul has no solution. He wants to condemn one specific thing so he can damage the Obama Administration and better position himself for a primary against a similar bunch of forgetful Republicans. Instead of a lawsuit, come up with a law, Senator. Put your staff to better use. Sponsor legislation to change the laws you don't like. If there is an attack on American soil, it will be Obama's fault, thanks to our confused and inept media, and that's the way it should be. Pointing out that the Congress has shamefully abandoned its responsibilities won't ever be accepted as truth.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Which Police State Do You Live In?

Do you remember voting for this? 

Each and every time you voted since 2001, did you vote specifically for a candidate who would dismantle the Patriot Act? Did you vote in your local elections for a city or county government dedicated to controlling the militarization of the police? Did you sign up for Facebook years ago and forget to read the fine print? Too late now.

The police state arrived while no one was paying attention. Each and every time one of us steps into the world, we are under surveillance. We are being watched on our phones, our computers, and when we drive a car with a GPS device in it. We are being watched by cameras and readers and when we drive into urban areas, we are being watched at an unprecedented rate. When we buy things, we're being tallied and sold off to third party advertisers. Everything we do is under the watchful eye of a cop or a seller or a bureaucrat. So, you can crap yourself and stop living your life or go have a blast and say fuck it all anyway. 

Live weird. Confuse them. Buy things you throw away. Eat crap. Sing and dance like no one is recording. Breathe and enjoy this life.

You see, all is well.

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches, but put his decision on hold pending a near-certain government appeal. 

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, concluding they were likely to prevail in their constitutional challenge. 

Leon, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, ruled Monday that the two men are likely to be able to show that their privacy interests outweigh the government's interest in collecting the data. Leon says that means that massive collection program is an unreasonable search under the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

You don't have anything to worry about.

The Metropolitan Police Department is collecting images of license plates by the millions and storing them in a massive database with no regard to whether or not that person is under suspicion of anything, according to WAMU. 

WAMU's Martin Austermuhle reports that D.C. police cars which are equipped with Automatic License Plate Readers have collected more than 150 million images of license plates through this past September. 

They're generally used to match up the license plates with a list of vehicles that are known to be stolen and keeping tabs on high-crime areas, police officials tell WAMU, but civil liberties advocates believe that they can be used to track people who have done no wrong.

As described in "How we use the information we receive" we also put together data from the information we already have about you, your friends, and others, so we can offer and suggest a variety of services and features. For example, we may make friend suggestions, pick stories for your News Feed, or suggest people to tag in photos. We may put together your current city with GPS and other location information we have about you to, for example, tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you in which you might be interested. We may also put together data about you to serve you ads or other content that might be more relevant to you. 

When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city). But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications. 

We only provide data to our advertising partners or customers after we have removed your name and any other personally identifying information from it, or have combined it with other people's data in a way that it no longer personally identifies you.

We are already living in a surveillance state that is driven by paranoia and marketing. The only real difference here is that the Federal agency, which is part of the Department of Defense, that everyone is scared of is actually under far more rigorous oversight than your local cop shop or Facebook. But don't let that get in the way of being terrified. Everyone needs a bogeyman, and now that Osama is dead, why not use whatever is left over?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ukraine Turns to the West

There are a number of things happening in Eastern Europe right now. Ukraine is trying to align itself with the euro countries and turn its back on Russia, which is a smart thing for economic reasons but a dangerous thing for political reasons. There is no desire to see Russia become "Russia" again and no one much likes to live under Putin's heel.

Russia needs Ukraine as a cheap and friendly conduit for energy products. The more favorable the Ukrainians are, the cheaper it is for Russia to export critical things like natural gas to Europe. The problem is, Ukrainians hate their combined history with Russia and politicians who downplay such things run the risk of being consumed by the corruption that Russia is using to buy favors.

My first reaction to this was, why is there still a statue of Lenin in Kiev?

Monday, September 9, 2013


The U.S. military has seen fit to close the facility in Heidelberg, Germany. In reality, this means that there will be fewer Americans living and working in the Mannheim and Heidelberg areas. If you spent any time in Germany during the Cold War, this may come as a bit of a shock. If not, oh well.

My memories of these places are positive; the PX and the Food Court on Heidelberg were wonderfully retro in that they weren't "modernized" and ruined. They allowed you a glimpse of what was, and not what will be, which is nothing.

I agree with closing these bases and reducing our footprint overseas. But the closure of Heidelberg cuts to the bone.