Your Security Theatre at work

High quality “security”.

Travelers in Sacramento, Calif., got a surprise when they approached airport security and no one was at the metal detector. Five passengers went on through without any screening. Finally, officials noticed the unattended metal detector and shut down the terminal until the passengers were found and screened.

[NPR summary quoted in full because it is so short that any omissions would lose critical information. Full audio of the story is available here.]

TSA is a sham. They have yet to actually catch a single terrorist, while constantly violating people’s Fourth Amendment Rights against unreasonable searches (even at border checkpoints, agents must have reasonable suspicion to conduct a body search), and while performing actions that would be considered sexual assault if done by anyone else.

Disband TSA yesterday.


[Source: NPR Morning Edition story, retrieved 2/27/12]

The American Gestapo is here.

TSA conducting random vehicle searches in Tennessee.

Via Oleg Volk. More commentary later, when I’m not trying to post from my phone.


Update: Maybe not today,though. I’m still letting this percolate in my head as I try to figure out what I want to commit to pixels.

(h/t SayUncle)

Community policing, or Police State?

Yesterday, the on-campus students started moving into the dorms here at Virginia Tech. The local bird cage liner tends to run a story or two on this every year, since it creates a pretty significant disruption to traffic. In this year’s story, I noticed something new, and today they ran a story with more detail.

[T]his year a special unit of police officers assigned to the dorms will work to prevent those problems, if they can, said Morgan, who oversees the new unit.

If they can’t, “we’ll be there to help those students get back on track,” officer Nicole Viers said.

Viers is one of three Tech officers assigned to the new Residence Life Resource Officer program, a joint project between the residence life division of student affairs and the police department. Officers John Tarter and Dallas Leamon are also assigned to the new unit.

All three were dressed casually last week in the attire they will wear on the job: maroon polo shirts and blue jeans, their firearms and badges clipped to their belts and ready smiles spread across their faces. […]

The resource officers replace several part-time security guards that used to patrol dormitories under Tech’s Campus Watch program, Morgan said.

But high turnover among those guards stymied the strong relationships officials hoped to build with students. So, more than a year ago, they came up with a new plan to put full time, sworn police officers in the dorms. […]

The idea for dorm resource officers is similar to resource officers deployed in middle and high school: prevent trouble by building trust.

In law enforcement, this is known as community policing, a strategy that enlists residents to work with officers to prevent crime. But it requires a high level of trust between police and the people they protect. Building that trust takes time and consistency.

It’s hoped that dorm resource officers can build stronger bonds with residence hall advisers and students than have been possible in the past. The officers will also provide programs and training in the dorms, including substance abuse prevention and the popular Rape Aggression Defense course for women, Leamon said.

Well, I know one way to reduce crime on campus, but that’s a bit off-topic in this case.

I’m a bit torn on this. I certainly favour community policing over the growing militarization of police that is happening in our country. But the dorms are the students’ homes. The division between public and private in many dorms is questionable – just as one example, simply going to the bathroom can require wandering through the halls, and places you in the public eye. Now, the police could already could legally (as far as I know) simply come in at random and walk the halls, but as far as I know they normally would only go into the residential areas if they were called – whether this was due to some legal requirement or simply a policy in place for respecting students’ privacy I don’t know. But the idea of having a police officer specifically assigned to one’s dorm, specifically to check up on whether those students are breaking or about to break the law (rather than to watch for danger), who could be wandering those semi-private areas at any time, brings to mind the intrusiveness of the classical police state.

So, I don’t know what to think of this new initiative. What say you, dear readers?


[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 8/18/11]

XKCD does Information Security

XKCD hits one out of the park, yet again.

To anyone who understands information theory and security and is in an infuriating argument with someone who does not (possibly involving mixed case), I sincerely apologize.

I’ve been pointing this principle out for years, but it seems like the people actually responsible for information security don’t seem to care, because they keep requiring people to use the “8-12 characters, at least 1 uppercase, 1 number or symbol” format like what’s shown in the first panel, rather than arbitrary length passphrases that are so much more secure.


Red haze of Rage – TSA ruins 6 year old’s Disney vacation

Boy to TSA: “I don’t want to go to Disneyland anymore.” (Video story only, so far.)

Two things need to be done:

  1. Disband the TSA NOW!
  2. Take every TSA agent who has done a pat-down of a child and charge them with sexual assault of a minor, and charge any agent or supervisor who has either ordered or allowed such a search as an accessory.
  3. Charge every TSA agent with violation of civil rights under colour of law.
  4. Throw them all in jail.

“I was just following orders” is no excuse for traumatizing a child.

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.

United States Constitution, Amendment IV


(h/t SayUncle)

If you thought the TSA was bad before…

then take a look at this.

The Los Angeles Times said the US administration had warned airlines that extremist groups were considering surgically implanting explosives into people to try to beat enhanced airport security measures.

Passengers flying to the United States could now face even tougher screening procedures, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, Nicholas Kimball, told the daily.

Of course, anyone with two brain cells to rub together has known this was coming for at least the last ten years (which means the government probably only figured it out last week). And $deity help anyone flying shortly after any kind of surgery.

I expect that this will not end well.


[Source: AFP article on Yahoo! News, retrieved 7/6/11]

TSA’s Jack-booted thugs – Not just for airports, anymore

Courtesy of Firehand at Irons in the Fire (now added to the blogroll), we have a new tale of the TSA out of control.

Bus travelers were shocked when jackbooted TSA officers in black SWAT-style uniforms descended unannounced upon the Tampa Greyhound bus station in April with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and federal bureaucrats in tow.

A news report by ABC Action News in Tampa showed passengers being given the signature pat downs Americans are used to watching the Transportation Security Administration screeners perform at our airports. Canine teams sniffed their bags and the buses they rode. Immigration officials hunted for large sums of cash as part of an anti-smuggling initiative.


The TSA has conducted 8,000 of these security sweeps across the country in the past year alone, TSA chief John Pistole told a Senate committee June 14.  They are part of its VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) program, which targets public transit related places.

The only coherent response to this sort of police-state activity that I can come up with at the moment is a simple quote.

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.

Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment IV


[Source: American Thinker article online, retrieved 6/21/11]

(h/t Firehand at Irons in the Fire)

Appropriately handling the TSA: Quote of the Day – 2011-05-16

Stingray over at Atomic Nerds tells us about his excellent response to a TSA thug trying to assert his Authoritah!.

Yesterday involved taking LabRat to the airport so she could go look after her mother for a bit. […] Expecting the highest professionalism the TSA is capable of, I opted to come in and watch her clear security to make sure they didn’t discover that my Kindle was suddenly on the banned objects list, or some similar effort to make the skies safer. With a mid-week mid-afternoon flight, the lines weren’t too bad, so I picked a vantage spot where I could see the goons and watch with quiet anger the violation of my wife near the entrance point to the maze-like line path.

As she was approaching the grope-or-ogle point, a young TSA lackey approached him, and demanded he either get in line himself or leave. Stingray’s explanation that he was simply waiting to make sure that his wife cleared the checkpoint without incident fell upon deaf ears, and the skinny little thug-wannabe repeated his demand.

Stingray’s response, while entirely appropriate and satisfying, is not quite Family Friendly, so I’m putting it after a break.


Irony, thy name is Barcelona

I mean, really?


Barcelona City Council. 500 meter zone under surveillance. George Orwell Square.

All that watching, and it seems that someone just wasn’t paying attention.


(h/t Tam)

A note to narcotics officers everywhere.

If you’re going to go ahead and execute an obviously fatally flawed search warrant, you probably shouldn’t do it at the home of a law professor.

Just sayin’.


(h/t SayUncle)

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