Homeland Security

Two links on homeland security

Bruce Schneier in Salon talks about how lack of data collection is not our problem in thwarting terrorism, it is lack of analysis of that data:

Relying on computers to sift through enormous amounts of data, and investigators to act on every alarm the computers sound, is a bad security tradeoff. It’s going to cause an endless stream of false alarms, cost millions of dollars, unduly scare people, trample on individual rights and inure people to the real threats. Good intelligence involves finding meaning among enormous reams of irrelevant data, then organizing all those disparate pieces of information into coherent predictions about what will happen next. It requires smart people who can see connections, and access to information from many different branches of government. It can’t be seen by the various individual pieces of bureaucracy; the whole picture is larger than any of them.

On BoingBoing, Mark Freunfelder posts that his six year old daughter is on the CAPPS suspected terrorist list.

My daughter was scared and shaken up by the ordeal and told us that she “hated it.” At least the security people were polite to her. But they were like polite robots, unable to laugh at the fact that someone had mistakenly pegged a little girl as a potential terrorist. No, they insisted that she had to take off her shoes and get patted down and have a wand passed over her body and have her Hello Kitty suitcase opened and examined with a fine toothed comb.

When we got to the gate, I looked at one of the monitors, and I saw Sarina’s name on the list, along with one other person’s name. The list was titled “CAPPS.”

This is scary stuff. Has it occurred to anyone how easy it would be for a petty person somewhere in the airport security chain to really fuck with your life? If you made a gate agent or a security screener mad, they can just feed you into the system and think to themselves “That will teach them to mess with me!” You’ll get the extra special attention indefinitely and you’ll never know why you got flagged and never be able to get unflagged.