Saturday, February 27, 2010

Obama Signs One-Year Extension of Patriot Act

The one "change" I was hoping for was the elimination of the Patriot Act. Looks like maybe next year, or the year after, or the year after that!

Newsmax - Obama Signs One-Year Extension of Patriot Act

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lack of Oversight

Public Integrity sent me a link to their site last week. They have some good articles on homeland security and encourage you to check them out by following the link at the bottom.

I found the article below particularly interesting as we had been discussing oversight of homeland security the other night in class. I was explaining to my students the function of oversight and audits is to insure agencies are operating in accordance within the applicable laws and regulations. At that's the theory but often politics or self-interest will overcome oversight. The reports of terrorists or disgruntled citizens flying their airplanes into buildings causes constituents to want more security. More funding is provided to the community. Rarely is there a re-look at how effective those dollars are in preventing an attack. TSA in my opinion is most guilty of not conducting appropriate oversight. Full body scanners are being fielded in 140 airports based on Adbulmutallab's failed attempted to detonate his underwear. The money is being spent on this new technology without seeming to acknowledge the failure was not in screening, rather the failure laid in Adbulmutallab's name not getting on the no fly list. Oversight should be addressing the lack of communication amongst intelligence agencies. Oversight should also point out the purchase of full body scanners will succeed only in forcing would-be terrorists to avoid those particular airports.

Homeland Security Marked by Waste, Lack of Oversight - Homeland Security: Boom and Bust

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Pilot Crashes Into Texas Building

There is an admonishment amongst military strategists not to fight the last war. TSA was created with one purpose in mind, to fight the last war. The agency was supposed to prevent another 9/11 by federalizing all personnel who would screen baggage and boarding passengers. The shortfall of course is would TSA have really be able to prevent 9/11 since the hijackers did not use explosives and carried items that would not have been suspicious prior to the hijackings. In theory, TSA screeners are supposed to prevent another large aircraft from being hijacked.

We now have this event in Austin showing that even light aircraft can be used as a type of cruise missile. Most people don't realize how many small airports, many unattended, operate within a few minutes flight time of their work or home. There is usually at least one municipal airport located in every county. Colleges and universities with aviation programs have airports. All of these are relatively quiet with small fixed base operations (FBO).

Having TSA in place at all of these airports would be cost-prohibitive and would not prevent this type of attack. Why? Remember the role of TSA is basically to screen for weapons and explosives. There is no way for them to determine the intention of a private pilot getting ready to take-off. We certainly don't need TSA or any other agency taking away more of our additional civil liberties by interviewing every pilot before they take off (but I won't be surprised if the President or Secretary Napolitano doesn't try to float this idea). Most small aircraft are parked at the airports with little to no security. The locks on these aircraft are easy for a pilot with a little lock picking skill to defeat. There are also countless farms with small aircraft stored in a barn or simple hangar.

The threat of a small aircraft being flown into a soft target will continue to challenge our safety and security for sometime. There is no easy solution without giving up even more of our freedom as well as our money.

Pilot Crashes Into Texas Building in Apparent Anti-IRS Suicide - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News -

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

TSA takes explosives screening to fliers

The reason Abdul Mutallab, better known as the "underwear bomber", was nearly able to accomplish his goal had much more to do with intelligence failures than the TSA lacking the ability to walk around airports to randomly swab people, From most open source accounts, Mutallab was known to be a threat who had become involved with an especially radical Islamic group out of Yemen. No less an authority than his own father came forward to express his concern that his son had become radicalized. According to press accounts, the CIA (and also the British MI-5) had sent a report to the National Counter-Terrorism Center to have Mutallab's name placed on the no-fly list, For some reason, that did not occur allowing Mutallab to fly to Amersterdam. Mutallab was apprehended overseas so why does TSA need to have "roaming" powers in domestic airports? The TSA has one of the worst reputations for customer service by any federal agency. The work is dull and monotonous, the pay is low, the promotion process is stressful, and dealing with angry passengers is no picnic. Roaming screenings will just add more opportunities for passengers and TSA screeners to clash with zero probability of catching the next "underwear bomber".

TSA takes explosives screening to fliers -

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What happens when your message is off

From what I gather out of this article, the police chief declared a state of emergency consistent with actions taken by the county. As a result, a state law kicked-in banning the possession of alcohol or firearms in automobiles from 12AM to 5AM. On the face of it, the police chief seems to have been only interested in protecting the community through the emergency declaration. Unfortunately, she did not understand or failed to consider how the residents would react. She has did not do a very good job before or after of getting her message across. The case is a good example for community leaders and corporate executives alike; intentions will be interpreted as malicious if you don't get your message out. People will make-up stuff to fill in gaps of information. Very rarely will the company owner, fire chief, police chief, or mayor come out smelling like a rose under such circumstances.

Residents Fumed Over Weekend Alcohol, Firearm Ban - Winston-Salem News Story - WXII The Triad

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Monday, February 8, 2010

More stupidity

I was assigned to a USAF Special Operations unit. Special Ops in the Air Force have two mission; one of course is special operations but the other mission is air rescue. Rescue pilots in the USAF wear a pair of green feet on their name tags to signify the "Jolly Green Giant", the nickname of the first major rescue helicopter. There was a time that no rescue pilot upon entering the officer's club ever had to buy a drink. We have fallen very far from that nobler time...

From the Air Force Association magazine: R.I.P. CSAR-X: The Air Force on Tuesday pounded another nail in the coffin of its now-cancelled CSAR-X program, by “terminating for convenience” its $712 million contract with Boeing from 2006 for the system development and demonstration phase of the HH-47 rescue helicopter. “This contract termination is a result of the CSAR-X program cancellation directed by the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics,” the Air Force wrote in its brief statement, which appeared in the June 2 list of new Pentagon contracts. Why the need for this step, if the CSAR-X program is already history? Well, Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Karen Platt told the Daily Report yesterday that, technically speaking, the stop-work order from Nov. 22, 2006, had still been in effect for the contract that Boeing received from the Air Force for HH-47 work on Nov. 9, 2006, when it won the original CSAR-X competition over Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky. That stop-work order was never lifted as the CSAR-X program remained bogged down in legal protests and the Air Force’s efforts to resolve them up until Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ April 6 announcement that he was killing the program. But just because the original CSAR-X contract is now officially toast doesn’t mean that the need for a new rescue platform has gone away, and the Air Force leadership is working to convince Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a new USAF rescue bird would not be a single-service platform for an inherently joint mission, as Gates maintains.