In the days before the 2004 Presidential Election, Osama Bin Laden released a videotaped message that essentially told the world what he was up to. Within his remarks there was one sentence that has stayed with me: “We are continuing a policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.” After taking a look at our country’s financial situation and continuing explosive debt, it might be easy to declare that Bin Laden and his cronies can celebrate in their caves in “where-ever-istan” they might be currently residing. At least that is the conclusion you might derive from the recently released report of the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
Ideology and Public Diplomacy
November 24th, 2010 -
By Kate Kennedy
Oh TSA. In the current aviation security environment, that sentiment almost speaks for itself. We’ve got screaming toddlers, screaming more than usual. We’ve got publically humiliated cancer survivors, forced to remove prosthetics in public. We’ve got a passenger stripping to his underwear to prove he is not a threat, only to get arrested anyway. All of this could have been avoided. The national uproar over the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new pat-down procedures and Advanced Imagine Technology (AIT) machines is a perfect example of what happens when you leapfrog over the necessary step of building and launching a strategic communications plan.
November 22nd, 2010 - by Rich Cooper
After what can only be described as an endless barrage of horror stories, TSA Administrator John Pistole has blinked when it comes to the less-than-comfortable pat-downs that the air-traveling public has experienced over the past few weeks. After stating in recent congressional hearings, cable TV interviews and to just about any other available forum that the pat-down procedures were here to stay, Pistole has cried “uncle” and thrown in the towel. As this debate continues to unfold, it plays to the extremes, rather than the real risks and realities that have to be dealt with daily in a dangerous security environment. Pandering to fears about health and privacy certainly makes great politics and great cable news content, but it doesn’t necessarily deal with reality. Our level of respect in the debate seems to be going down hill at a faster rate.
November 19th, 2010 -
The results are in from our reader survey. Have a look at what other readers think about TSA pat-downs and Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). Where do you come down on the issue?
The uproar or apparent uproar of scores or maybe even several hundred travelers, several of whom may have actually visited a TSA checkpoint recently, has refocused media attention on full body scanners. Those worried that TSA really wants to see or feel their junk should take pause. The narcissistic paranoia gripping the country, fueled by cable news, has distracted us from the reasons for the more thorough screening. Finding new, creative ways to deliver opinions helps to cut through the noise and get noticed. Animated bears – or dogs, I can’t tell – seems to be the latest fad. All the kids are doing it. Now for something completely different here is an attempted defense of TSA in animated form. Enjoy.
November 17th, 2010 - by David Olive
We have all heard that the best leaders in the private sector, as well as those in government, are those who “lead by example.” That thought sticks in my mind as DHS and TSA attempt to defend the use of advanced imaging technologies or, in the alternative, more thorough physical inspections. One way Secretary Napolitano and TSA Administrator Pistole could help allay the public’s fear would be for each of them to go through the enhanced screening process and do it in front of the television cameras for the whole world to see.
November 17th, 2010 -
There has been an active and passionate public debate over the use of Advanced Imaging Machines (AIT) and TSA pat-down techniques at airport security checkpoints. Some think the whole body scanners and pat-downs are just what’s needed for aviation security; others think the pat-downs and imaging machines infringe on personal privacy and may not be safe (the machines, that is). But which side holds the majority? Are the machines and pat-downs keeping us safe or do they tread on personal liberty? Take this anonymous Security Debrief survey, and let us know where you stand.
In watching the news stories, one has to wonder if the TSA is doing Security Theater or do they really believe they are protecting our nation. The basic flaw I see with today’s screening system is that we are looking for bad things instead of bad people. Our focus is on many inanimate objects, which in and of themselves are not likely to pose a threat to airliners. The terrorists of 9/11 did not carry any banned items onto their flights. In fact, the only illegal thing they carried was the intent to do grave bodily harm.
Much has been made of late about the new “hands-on” approach TSA Screeners are applying to passengers at the nation’s airports. With a flood of vocal protests coming from the various unions representing airline pilots and flight attendants, as well as religious groups and the travelling public, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole have the distinction of owning what can only be called the worst of In-Boxes. I guess there are lots of ways to get your hands around this hot issue and feel your way through it, but the good people at Despair, Inc. have the answers and messaging that say it all.
In the days after any election, there is what you can call the CSI forensics analysis. Analysts of every stripe go around and pick up the pieces of what’s left of the election’s victorious and vanquished and tell you what it all means. I guess I could do that, but rather than beat a horse already turned to glue, I’d rather share with you my wish list for the new Congress.
October 27th, 2010 - by Chris Battle
If journalists are going to maintain intellectual integrity, then they must objectively acknowledge–whether they like it or not–that there are indeed Americans still traumatized by the murder of some 3,000 Americans by Islamic extremists who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
October 21st, 2010 -
NPR news analyst Juan Williams was recently fired after making controversial remarks on The O’Reilly Factor. Here is a brief video of Williams talking about why he was fired and elaborating on his initial comments. What say you, reader? Was Williams out of line or does he offer sound insight?
Security Debrief founder/editor Chris Battle and I took to the skies today in search of homeland security adventure – well, actually just a 6:00 AM flight to Dallas/Fort Worth on business. While the terrorist threat is lethal, the day-to-day impact of the War on Terror most felt by Americans is our airport experience. When I compare my checkpoint experience from this morning with some I’ve had over the last decade, I’ve got to hand it to TSA. A sense of humor can make all the difference.
October 14th, 2010 - by Steven Bucci
A week or so ago, I did a post on 5th Generation Warfare (5GW), and it apparently stirred up some interest among the readers of Security Debrief. Given that interest, I thought I would look a little deeper into this subject. My title will probably bother some. Isn’t it always about “winning?” Actually, life would be much simpler if it were. Vince Lombardi’s famous quote (“Winning isn’t everything, it is the ONLY thing.”) works for football but not for 5GW. As much as Americans love a winner, in 5GW it will not be quite so clear cut.
September 28th, 2010 - by Sam Rosenfeld
The ITRR controversy in Pennsylvania raises important questions about protesters, free speech, free assembly, the relationship between protesters and threats to critical infrastructure, and the quality of contractor support to government entities. An argument can certainly be made in this instance that the Governor threw out the baby with the bathwater. The provision of intelligence services to protect critical infrastructure and key resources is essential, but so is a fundamental understanding of the types of threats and the risks that they pose, including being able to distinguish threats from opportunities.
September 14th, 2010 -
By Justin Hienz
This past weekend was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and I was relieved that the date passed without incident. I was also pleased to see it come and go without the Quran burning that had been planned by a congregation in Gainesville, FL. That Nazi-like spectacle would have created endless fodder for terrorist propaganda. But it would have achieved something else. In usurping attention with an inflammatory stunt, Jones and his followers would have revealed their ignorance of Islam, ignorance beyond the trite Islamophobic rhetoric all too common these days. Here’s why.
It is now nine years since we suffered the huge tragedy of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. A hand full of very dedicated killers took the lives of thousands, grounded the entire U.S. commercial Air Industry and paralyzed our Nation. As the time between 9/11 and the present lengthens, people forget. It is a natural human reaction and typically American. We forget that we were attacked, that Afghanistan and Iraq were reactions to 9/11 and the war that Al Qaeda declared on us and which Saddam Hussein cheered – they were not unprovoked assaults on innocent regimes.
September 9th, 2010 - by Chris Battle
When I’m listening to two guys with guns–one a four-star general leading our troops in Afghanistan and the other a holster-packing freak who thinks he’s Abraham ready to sacrifice his own –I think I’ll go with the general. Listen to Patraeus: Drop the Koran-burning idiocy.
It never ceases to amaze me the people who proclaim to be representatives of God but are so willing to unleash hate. Such is the ministry of Rev. Terry Jones and his Gainesville, FL church. In what can only be accurately described as an incendiary act, on Saturday evening, September 11, Jones and his church will burn copies of the Quran, the holy book of Islam.
A recent blog post on Wire.com “Cyberwar Against Wikileaks? Good Luck With That” was brought to my attention by a good friend. She nominally just wanted my thoughts on the provocative article, but in effect, challenged me to blog on the subject. Some have argued that the U.S. Government could levy its cyber capabilities to stop WikiLeaks from sharing the classified information leaked to the online outlet by a young U.S. soldier. That defined a target is well within the capabilities of several different parts of the government, but it would be entirely self defeating. Using cyber capabilities to silence those with whom we disagree is exactly what privacy and civil liberties advocates fear most about the development of our cyber defenses.