Tag Archives: security


18 Feb

Either everyone gets security or no one does.
Bruce Schneier

Lawrence Lessig Interviews Edward Snowden

17 Nov

Edward Snowden, in his own words.


Saddam’s blood Qur’an

22 Dec

Forget the trumped up WMD reports, if they wanted to rally the nation around invading Iraq all they needed to do was tell everyone about this.

Over the course of two painstaking years in the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein had sat regularly with a nurse and an Islamic calligrapher; the former drawing 27 litres of his blood and the latter using it as a macabre ink to transcribe a Qur’an.

[via Kottke]


The most heinous of Wikileaks cables

10 Dec

Regardless of what you think of WikiLeaks, discount Julian Assange and PFC Bradley Manning I think we can all agree that this is easily the worst of the worst when it comes to damaging secret cables.

[via clusterflock]


Why obesity is a national security threat

6 Dec

A refreshingly honest look at the impact obesity is having on our military and young people in general from David Frum. He also offers some suggestions and even throws some support to Michelle Obama and the efforts First lady has undertaken.

In 2008, some 634 military personnel were discharged for transgressing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” That same year, 4,555 were discharged for failing to meet military weight standards.

Military weight standards are not especially demanding. Male recruits younger than 27 must have a body-fat percentage below 26%. That’s twice the fat you’d expect in a young man in peak physical condition.

Yet even the relaxed 26% standard is too stringent for modern America. More than 9 million young Americans — about one in four — are too overweight to enlist, a recent report found.

So the military has adjusted its expectations.

Otherwise qualified young men with body fat of 30% (the boundary between “overweight” and “obese”) can be conditionally recruited if they can perform a basic workout and then commit to reduce their weight within one year.


The new Amazon Web Services

2 Dec

After Amazon Web Services (AWS) cut off the controversial website WikiLeaks, many spurned politicians around the world rejoiced, while web developers were left to wonder “Who’s next?” In the wake of AWS’ unprecedented censorship they’ve released a statement that creates more questions than answers.

There were several parts [of the AWS terms of service] they [WikiLeaks] were violating. For example, our terms of service state that “you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content… that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.” It’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content. Further, it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren’t putting innocent people in jeopardy.

The most concerning part about this statement is not the actual censorship, but just how arbitrary and subjective their stated causes for termination are. Not an encouraging precedent.

[via Dustin Curtis]


Happy Porno-Scanner Opt-Out Day

24 Nov

Seeing as how today is National Porno-Scanner Opt-Out Day (don’t forget to request your pat-down if you’re traveling today) I’ve got a TSA ridiculousness double-feature.

Mythbusters Adam Savage reminds us that the failures of the TSA and the Porno-Scanners are not a recent revelation.


TSA porno-scanner round-up

24 Nov

The hits just keep on coming. Now we’re hearing that the new TSA x-ray scanners may be even less effective than we’ve been lead to believe. And not just less effective, but essentially worthless. Fantastic.

Eliot Spitzer introduces us to “Operation Hemorrhage” and goes on to explain how the Porno-Scanners are just one more indication that the terrorists are winning and “mocking us.”

A month after Tom Sawyer was forced to board a flight humiliated and soaked in his own urine he finally received an apology from the TSA.

“They need to know what it looks like, how it functions. They obviously do not know,” Sawyer told the newspaper, adding that he refused to fly again for the time being.

“No, no, no. Now a thousand times, no,” he said. “Not until I can get my head around all this.”

[TSA chief John] Pistole vowed to discuss the issue with TSA supervisors to determine what kind of training should be implemented.

So what Pistole is saying is that the agency gave little to no attention to the sensitivities of children, seniors and the disabled when planning the implementation of these policies? Nice.

As Mike Davidson said, “It’s official: it’s not a real scandal unless NMA animates it.”


TSA porno-scanner round-up

23 Nov

Another day, more TSA instigated ridiculousness.

No x-ray, no pat-down, come on through

I asked The Supervisor, “Per my constitutional rights, I am not allowed to be detained without reasonable cause for arrest.  Now, am I free to go?”

He answered, “If you leave, we will call the APA.”

I asked, “Who is the APA?”

“The Airport Police.”

I said, “Actually, that’s probably a good idea.  Let’s call them and your manager.”

Why Cavity Bombs Would Make the TSA Irrelevant

Three experts I spoke to this weekend — two of whom are currently serving in government in counter-terrorism capacities — believe it is only a matter of time before the technique is tried here. “We have nothing in our arsenal that would detect these bombs,” one told me. “There is no taboo that we can see against this technique. Suicide is suicide, it doesn’t matter how gross it is.”

A Massive Terrorist Target

By attempting to protect one high-value target, the TSA is creating another.

The occasional voices of reason are what I enjoy most about this entire saga. A security official in Amsterdam has called for what other security experts have been begging for during the last decade.

“If you look at all the recent terrorist incidents, the bombs were detected because of human intelligence not because of screening … If even a fraction of what is spent on screening was invested in the intelligence services we would take a real step toward making air travel safer and more pleasant.”

— Marijn Ornstein, chief of security, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam


TSA Enhanced Pat Downs : The Screeners Point Of View

22 Nov

I left this out of the TSA porno-scanner round-up because I thought it deserved it was more significant than the others. Much of the discussion has centered around the humiliation of passengers, the trampling of the rights of U.S. citizens, the poor planning, communication and response of the TSA and the resulting public outrage. But prior to today I hadn’t read anything about the TSA screeners, who are often receive the brunt of the outrage.

A small survey was conducted asking 20 TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSO) about their thoughts and experiences as they relate to these new tools and procedures. The responses are unanimous in their disapproval of the new procedures, their extreme level of discomfort in performing the pat-downs and the embarassment they’re subjected to at the hands of justifiably enraged passengers.

“Molester, pervert, disgusting, an embarrassment, creep. These are all words I have heard today at work describing me, said in my presence as I patted passengers down. These comments are painful and demoralizing, one day is bad enough, but I have to come back tomorrow, the next day and the day after that to keep hearing these comments. If something doesn’t change in the next two weeks I don’t know how much longer I can withstand this taunting. I go home and I cry. I am serving my country, I should not have to go home and cry after a day of honorably serving my country.”

“I served a tour in Afghanistan followed by a tour in Iraq. I have been hardened by war and in the past week I am slowly being broken by the constant diatribe of hateful comments being lobbed at me. While many just see a uniform with gloves feeling them for concealed items I am a person, I am a person who has feelings. I am a person who has served this country. I am a person who wants to continue serving his country. The constant run of hateful comments while I perform my job will break me down faster and harder than anything I encountered while in combat in the Army.”

Speaking from recent air travel experience, it’s hard to be respectful when a strange man’s hands are down your pants, against your will. But I doubt he wanted his hands their either.