Homeland Security

Homeland Security31 Mar 2007 02:09 pm

I keep waiting for somebody to point out the larger issue arising from the tragic pet food poisoning story. One supplier with a tainted product has manged to kill several hundred pets, sicken thousands, and cripple a huge chunk of the pet food market.

All indicators are that this was an accident. Just think if somebody did it on purpose and did it in a more nefarious way… and did it to some additive in the human food supply. What kind of disaster could be wrought?

Our food supply is the terrorism risk that nobody ever wants to talk about because it’s so scary. We rely on so few processors and vendors for certain things, such as processed corn syrup (a food stuff nearly unknown before the 1950s), that one bad actor with a devious plan could make us afraid to eat or drink nearly anything.

I am deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of so many dogs and cats. But their deaths won’t have been meaningless if we use this opportunity to focus on the risks to our food supply.

Homeland Security & Law & Religion14 Nov 2005 03:26 pm

My Bible tells me it was the evil Roman Empire who used torture to oppress those sharing truth and knowledge. The evil Soviet Empire built gulags to torture and oppress those seeking truth and justice too. Now we learn that the Bush Administration is using former Soviet gulags as secret torture prisons?

Do these twits not understand irony? Actually, irony isn’t the right word. What is the word for something that is ironic, appalling, immoral, unconscionable, and may even border on crimes against humanity? The closest term I can think of is: the official policy promoted by Vice President Cheney.

The hubris, the unmitigated and unbridled gall of Dick “I had other priorities than serving during Vietnam” Cheney going to the U.S. Senate and fighting against a bill written by torture victim John McCain. It really takes some balls to stand before McCain and say that torture should be a legitimate option for interrogating terrorists.

Well, if the Vice President does have such durable testicles, perhaps they might come in handy to prove a point. If our esteemed vice-leader truly thinks torture is useful and in the best interests of the United States, it would be an interesting experiment to have a CIA interrogator drop by the Veep’s office and show him how easy it is to get bad intelligence through torture.

My bet is that if someone attached some electrodes to Mr. Cheney’s testicles, he’d give up every secret he had, confess to the Natalie Holloway murder, and offer to to do Rockette kicks while singing “Happy Days are Here Again”… all before a single volt is ever applied. I’m guessing this because it’s my theory that only cowards would prescribe torture.

Yes, I’m saying that the Vice President is what folks down in Texas would call a “yellow-bellied sum-bitch.” And if the President thinks torture is acceptable, then he’s one too.

Sorry my argument isn’t more fleshed out… still kinda flabbergasted by the brazen obscenity of our country’s leadership.

Homeland Security & Privacy20 Jun 2005 06:15 pm

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the people who rifle through your unmentionables and make you take off your shoes at the airport, were told by Congress that they should not build an airline passenger database for use in profiling.

“Oh, no! Of course we won’t!” the agency is reported to have responded. But what TSA can’t do, apparently contractors can.

According to an AP news item cited at HuffPost, the TSA hired a contractor who, in turn, hired three data brokers to gather detailed dossiers on U.S. citizens. The details of the program, called Secure Flight, are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register later this week.

According to the wire service story, the TSA obtained names from the airlines and then turned them over to a contractor, EagleForce Associates, who then used data brokerage firms to scrape together a more complete profile on each passenger, including:

[F]irst, last and middle names, home address and phone number, birthdate, name suffix, second surname, spouse first name, gender, second address, third address, ZIP code and latitude and longitude of address.

This is not the first time I’ve written about government agencies using private companies to do what the agency is prohibited from doing. Back in March, I was even quoted in a News.com piece about the embattled data brokerage firm ChoicePoint pitching itself to the FBI as being able to do what the agency was prohibited from doing.

I learned long ago in law school that you can’t hire somebody to do what you’re prohibited by law from doing. When you hire an assassin, you’re just as culpable. How these agencies intend to escape responsibility is unclear. But rest assured, the more the world looks into the work of data brokerage firms like ChoicePoint — and the organizations who hire them — the more difficult it will be for anybody to defend their practices.

Homeland Security & Politics28 Apr 2005 04:17 pm

Friends Helping FriendsMany people like the President because he’s such a tough guy. Just not with the right people, apparently. As gas prices skyrocket, and the Saudis make record profits, Bush walks around holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. Crude oil prices fell a tick after Bush got a small concession from Abdullah, but that’ll take weeks to show up in the numbers you see in the picture on the bottom.

In the top photo, Abdullah has Bush by the hand — a traditional gesture of trust and friendship among Saudis. But shouldn’t our President have his hand somewhere around the Saudis’ testicular regions? The U.S. is helping to prop up this corrupt and barbaric dictatorship, and we pay them billions in cash and military protection for the privilege.

During the administration of Bush the Elder, there were proposals to increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards over a 10-year period that would have insured America’s energy independence from unstable regimes in terrorist-producing corners of the world. But the administration of Bush the Elder, many of whom were clearly interested in high-paying jobs in the oil business (e.g., Dick Cheney leaving the Defense Department for oil services firm Halliburton), saw to it that energy independence efforts were quashed.

Now, Bush the Younger is touting energy independence, not through efficiency, but through less dependence on fossil fuels (well, except for coal. Oh, and we need to build more refineries. Yeah. And nukular, er, nuclear. Lovely.

Our lack of energy independence is exactly why we find ourselves mired in the Middle East, beholden to despots, and targets of terror. It’s in our vital national security interests to be energy independent, but its not a problem that we can drill or mine our way out of. Energy independence requires a holistic approach, from energy efficiency to real transportation alternatives.

Until the Republican leadership — which controls two of the three branches of government — understands those facts and acts upon them, their negligence gives aid to our enemies and abets our national insecurity.

Homeland Security25 Apr 2005 09:53 pm

Suspicious PenguinsDid you hear the one about the two penguins going through airport security? It’s not a joke… Film at 11.

Seriously, though, I’ve been in the huge security lines at Denver International Airport on more than a few occasions and I can only hope that they picked an “off-hour” to do this little stunt. If they picked a busy time, there could have been a riot.

But it’s still cute. :-)